There is something about Thanksgiving Day football.
To a player, even if the Generals capture its first-ever Super Bowl victory – and there are still two more wins to complete that scenario – but it came after a loss to rival Ipswich, it would be like dry turkey even though the stuffing came out perfect.
That is how much a triumph before turkey and all the fixins’ means to the Generals.
Luckily they won’t have to endure “what ifs” had a loss to the host Tigers ruined the perfect season. Hamilton-Wenham (10-0) used two interceptions for touchdowns, three Trevor Lyons TD passes, and a stifling defense to churn out a 33-8 win.
“We knew if we end up winning (the Super Bowl) and we lost against Ipswich we would look back and hang our heads,” said senior tri-captain Elliot Burr. “This is our rival and we didn’t want our perfect season (to be ruined).”
“This is our biggest game of the year,” said sophomore Pete Duval, who had a pick-6 as well as a TD reception. “It would be incomplete had we not beaten Ipswich.”
The Generals next face Newburyport on Tuesday (time and place TBA) for a berth in Division 3A Super Bowl on Dec. 3.
“We were very focused this week (at practice),” said Lyons, whose first run, for 11 yards, broke the school record for rushing yards in a season, previously held by Corey Jackson in 1989. “We were looking at Ipswich, not Newburyport. As I’ve said all year, it is a step-by-step process, one game at a time.”
The visiting team essentially put the game away at the start of the second quarter on back-to-back possessions.
First, Duval cut in front of the intended receiver at picked off freshman QB Nick Andreas and went in for a 40-yard score untouched.
Two plays later Steve Turpin, a junior, anticipated the throw to his man and he out-muscled the Tigers target and sprinted down the sideline for 28 yards and the TD.
“(The defensive backs) worked hard all week on one-on-one coverage,” said coach Andrew Morency. “They were able to get a good jump on the ball.”
The score was 20-0 with 4:48 left in the half after the two returns. Though it was not insurmountable, the Hamilton-Wenham defense would not allow the Tigers to get back into the game.
Elliot Burr (six first-half tackles), Shane Jenkins, Luke Wendt and Kevin Anthony bottled up the running game for only 22 yards in the first half. Add in the DBs picking off Andreas three times before the break and Ipswich (3-7) had little chance.
“We were able to come out and take control early,” Morency said. “Offensively we all know Elliot is a workhorse, but on the defense he is a little unsung.”
Ipswich coach Ted Flaherty mentioned that his team was missing a few key players due to injuries suffered in its last game against North Reading, but he admitted the score was indicative of the play.
“The score reflected the game,” he said. “(Hamilton-Wenham) is that much better than us.
“I have to give them credit, they are a hard team to play.”
While the Tigers were able to keep the 1-2 punch of runners Lyons and Burr somewhat contained (combined 87 yards), it was the versatility of the unblemished team that came through on the sunny and chilly morning.
Lyons opened the scoring when he found a wide open Luke Wendt in stride for a 37-yard strike.
Christian Ecker got into the act just prior to halftime. The sophomore tight end took a swing pass on the left and turned the corner and had nothing but green between him and the end zone for a 55-yard TD hook-up. That pushed the score to 26-0.
The shutout was broken at with 2:27 remaining in the third quarter when Shane Jenkins’s punt was blocked. Nick Remy picked up the ball and went in fiveyards for the score.
The final points came on the only real sustained Generals drive. It went 50 yards in 12 plays and was culminated by Duval’s four-yard catch from Lyons (6-for-10, 135 yards). Lyons had plenty of time in the pocket and waited until Duval got open.
“That is out bread-and-butter play, the Spread Double Slice,” Duval said. “I just got open and it was an easy (pass for Trevor).”