After both the Hamilton-Wenham and Pentucket football teams had the ball once, they each had scored. And with little difficulty.
It was the visiting Sachems’ next three times with the ball – a fumble at their own 20, a 50-yard kickoff return negated by a penalty and a fumble at their 34 - that made the difference in the game.
The Generals scored on two of the three opportunities to take a 22-7 lead with just over two minutes remaining in the first half, en route to a 30-7 Cape Ann League victory. The Generals beat Pentucket last season too on their trip to a Cape Ann Small title.
“We forced a couple turnovers and took advantage by putting points on the board,” said coach Andrew Morency. “We want to establish an identity by playing good football by taking advantage (of opportunities) and keeping the pressure on.”
A key to the Hamilton-Wenham offense turning turnover into points was changing on the fly.
The team likes to pound the ball with senior captain Elliot Burr and then mix it up with speedy quarterback Trevor Lyons. While Burr was gaining his yards and helping the Generals move the ball, it was Lyons who was getting his number called more as the game went on.
He had a gain of 26 yards on the final play of the first quarter to move the ball to the Pentucket 23, setting up Burr’s 23-yard rumble that resulted in a score. Then on the second possession, following a Sachems fumble, he picked up 9 yards on a keeper to set the ball up at the visitor’s 6 yard line. He found Mat Puter on a swing pass on the next play to give the Generals the lead. He two-point conversion rush made it 14-7.
“As the game went on – we were mostly running dives to pound the ball to start (the game) – it started to open it up for quarterback options,” said Lyons, a junior who finished with 81 yards on 13 carries.
Pentucket (1-1) coach Steve Hayden knew his team would have its hands full with the big Hamilton-Wenham offensive line of Ryan Foringer, Kevin Anthony, Shane Jenkins, Paul Kim and Matt Vogus, as well as Burr, a thick running back. But it was one of the smaller, albeit the quickest, player on the field that gave them fits.
“Their players took it to us on offense,” he said. “(Lyons) is very quick. We didn’t bottle him up.”
The Generals pushed their lead to 22-7 following the Sachems second fumble of the first half. The drive began with an incomplete pass but a personal foul moved the ball to the Pentucket 10. Four plays later Burr (14 carries, 95 yards) barreled in from the 1. Puter scored on a pass for the two-point conversion.
“When we were down 7-0 I think it woke the team up,” Morency said. “We knew Pentucket was formidable, and after the first drive it got the cobwebs out.”
Pentucket appeared ready to answer just before the half but Christian Ecker intercepted a Ryan Kuchar pass in the end zone as time wound down to zero.
The Generals defense made sure Pentucket didn’t get a chance to gain momentum in the second half and possibly get back in the game. On its first possession after the break, the Sachems had a nice drive going, moving to the Generals 36, but Taylor Drinkwater made back-to-back tackles to force a fourth-and-four play. An overthrown pass by Calvin Wiles gave the ball back to Hamilton-Wenham.
Lyons finally got his chance to get in the end zone when he scored on an 8-yard keeper, punctuated with a dive from the 1 over a defender. Burr’s two-point rush made it 30-7 with 10:09 left in the game.
“We are looking for Trevor to do things other quarterbacks can’t do,” Morency said. “His outside running with Burr’s inside complement each other.”
Pentucket’s Nolan Dragon was able to pick up big chunks of yardage for a 154-yard game on 19 carries, but the rest of the offense only gained 100 yards.