TOPSFIELD — Beverly found itself trailing for the first time this season as Masconomet surged to a 14-10 lead in the third quarter Friday night.
The deficit would last only 63 seconds.
Led by senior back Brendan Flaherty’s 234 yards rushing, the 14th-ranked Panthers overcame a sluggish start and scored 20 second-half points to defeat the host Chieftains, 30-14.
It was a frustrating first half for Beverly, which fumbled twice, committed five penalties, and had two scores wiped out because of infractions.
“We didn’t make it easy for ourselves, that’s for sure,” said Beverly coach Dan Bauer. “We had some opportunities in the first half that we didn’t take advantage of. But we settled down at the half. We kept an even keel, went back to work, and I think all the excitement and miscues from the first half wore off.”
The miscues did not immediately disappear, however, as Panthers quarterback Nick Manthorne was intercepted on the third snap of the third quarter by Chieftains linebacker Steve O’Reilly. That set up a 3-yard run by quarterback Chris Schleer to give Masconomet a 14-10 advantage.
The Panthers (6-0) turned to their workhorse, Flaherty, who ran up the middle, broke through six tackles, and kept his balance long enough to score on a 47-yard run to make it 17-14 only 1:03 later.
“Flaherty is a heck of a football player,” said Masconomet coach Jim Pugh. “We just wanted to hang tough, get some turnovers, but they’re just so explosive. You miss one tackle, soon it turns into five or six missed tackles.”
With teammate Kenny Pierce held out of the second half because of a possible concussion, Isaiah White gave the Panthers a second option in the backfield. White ran for 101 yards and scored from 11 yards to give Beverly a 24-14 lead early in the final quarter.
“The team fed off [Flaherty’s] energy and his determination, but it was important that Isaiah came through for us, too,” Bauer said. “He filled in for Kenny, and we’re lucky to have that luxury.”
The Chieftains (4-2) tried to mount a comeback, but Schleer was sacked on fourth down by Sam Mulumba to give Beverly the ball with 5:39 remaining. The visitors chewed up most of the clock, and Manthorne hit Brendan McGee on a 16-yard toss with 58 seconds remaining to seal the victory.
Beverly was in a hurry from the get go, as its no-huddle attack gashed the Masconomet defense. Flaherty finished a nine-play, 63-yard drive with a 6-yard run for a 7-0 lead.
Fumbles and penalties would be the story for the remainder of the half, though.
Masconomet took advantage of Beverly’s errors as Schleer sneaked in from 1 yard to tie the score at 7.
Panthers kicker Harry Brown booted a 25-yard field goal to give Beverly a 10-7 lead at the half.