MALDEN — The Medford cheering section was as loud as it had been all day as the final seconds ticked off the clock, finalizing a 36-12 Mustangs victory over the Golden Tornados, who had won the previous seven games in one of the country’s oldest Thanksgiving rivalries.
For Medford, which played Malden at Macdonald Stadium in the 127th Thanksgiving matchup between the teams, the plan all week was to rely on the passing game, and a thick blanket of snow covering the turf did nothing to change that.
“We’ve never been a solid running team on the ground,” said coach Jason Nascimento.
“So we said from the start that we were going to stick to what we were good at, and the kids executed.”
After each team scored two touchdowns apiece in the first quarter, the next three quarters belonged to Medford (2-9), and in particular, senior quarterback Adrian Pineda.
Pineda completed 5 of 13 passes for 239 yards and four touchdowns. His TD passes went for 35, 60, 63, and 37 respectively, connecting with senior wide receiver Jose Lopes and junior wide receiver Myles Olivier twice each.
His only other completion was a 46-yard pass to senior Damien Antoine.
“It was the best game of my life,” said Pineda, who also rushed for an 11-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. “But it took a whole group effort with everyone showing up and working hard. Heading into this week, [Nascimento] just told us that we had to want it more.”
The Mustangs’ defense was close to perfect, intercepting Malden quarterback Andrew Papa on the fourth play of the game, and three times overall.
Senior linebacker Matt Sullivan had an interception in the third quarter and a fumble recovery on Malden’s final possession.
Junior Anthony Derienzo added an interception, also in the third, and a sack that resulted in a 13-yard loss.
“The kids on defense really stepped up and played well,” said Nascimento. “That Malden team is very well coached.
“They’re explosive on offense and to hold them to 12 points was a credit to our defense.’’
While the win was just the Mustangs second of the season, the importance of a victory over Malden (6-5) — the first since 2006 — made up for an otherwise forgettable season, according to Nascimento.
“Regardless of records, this game is a Super Bowl,” said Nascimento.
“I’m not from Medford, I never had a rivalry as big as this, and to see how much it means to the community and the school and the kids is amazing.
“Any time we can bring that excitement to the program is a success for us.”