LYNNFIELD — With his team holding a 13-0 lead over rival Hamilton-Wenham, Lynnfield senior Ryan Battaglia stood and waited for the second-half kickoff.
The kick was high and deep. Standing near the 10-yard line, Battaglia positioned himself for the catch. But the football slipped through his hands.
Quick to react, Battaglia picked up the bouncing ball and raced toward the middle of the field. He saw Matt Kramich make a block in front of him before he lowered his shoulder, expecting to be hit.
Instead, he bowled through the Generals’ last line of defense, and with nobody in front of him, Battaglia sprinted for daylight and the first touchdown of his high school career as Lynnfield went on to shut out the Generals, 34-0.
“That was amazing, especially with it being senior day,” said Battaglia. “This could be a moment that I’m going to remember for the rest of my life. It was awesome.”
Battaglia’s 86-yard score added to the comfortable lead for the Pioneers, who contained the Generals offense well into the second half. The victory locked up Lynnfield’s third Cape Ann title in five seasons.
“That was a huge play to start the second half,” said coach Neal Weidman. “He hit that thing hard. Those are the types of plays that turn games around.”
After turning the ball over on downs on its opening drive, Lynnfield (6-0, 4-0 Cape Ann) scored touchdowns on five of its next six possessions. With 1:01 remaining in the first quarter, Kramich capped a nine-play, 74-yard drive by sweeping left and high-stepping to a 23-yard touchdown.
Hamilton-Wenham (2-4, 2-2 Cape Ann) tested the Pioneer defense with a 10-play drive that took 6:40 off the clock, but the Generals were forced to punt facing a fourth and 12 from the Lynnfield 45. The Pioneers scored again less than four minutes later as Kyle McGah ran for 5 of his 64 yards on the afternoon up the middle and into the end zone, pushing the hosts’ lead to 13-0.
Following Battaglia’s return, Lynnfield senior captain Anthony Costa intercepted Jack Clay on his second play from scrimmage. Six plays later, McGah’s second effort pushed him through the General defense and into the end zone for a 21-0 Pioneer advantage.
On defense, Costa caught H-W’s Ian Dickey in the backfield before fellow senior Alexander Ganter sacked Clay on fourth and 12 with 3:14 left in the third quarter. Aided by a 24-yard rush by quarterback Dan Sullivan (206 yards from scrimmage), Lynnfield marched 55 yards in a minute and a half, capped by a 12-yard dash by junior Jake Rourke.
H-W mounted one final offensive thrust in the game’s final minutes as running back Jimmy Littlefield carried the Generals inside the Lynnfield 5-yard line, but on fourth and goal, Ryan Gray was tackled in the backfield by a host of Pioneers.