After golf in the fall, hockey in the winter, and before the start of lacrosse, Brendan Fennell found time Saturday to do what he does best: lead another Melrose team to victory.
Fennell threw for one touchdown and ran for two more in leading Melrose past Wilmington, 21-7, in this pandemic-created football season in Fall II. The win was Melrose’s 18th straight going back to 2018 and improved the Red Raiders to 3-0 (2-0 in the Middlesex Freedom). Wilmington fell to 2-1 overall and in the league.
“He can run. He can throw. He’s a leader,” Melrose coach Tim Morris said of Fennell. “He tries to make plays sometimes a little too much. But those are things that winners do. They think they can make the big play in every situation and that’s what we love about him.”
Despite the double-digit win, it was anything but easy for Melrose.
Wilmington dominated the first half, running 30 plays to Melrose’s 15. Quarterback Stephen Smolinsky’s 4-yard run and his extra-point kick gave the visitors a 7-0 lead after one quarter.
Early in the second quarter Fennell (6-for-11 passing, 125 yards) missed a wide-open Charles Haggerty for what would have been an easy score. When the next play was a holding call on the Red Raiders, the socially-distanced home fans had reason to think the streak might come to an end. But on the next play Fennell and Haggerty tried again and the result was a 51-yard touchdown pass, Fennell’s sixth of the year. A missed extra point still left Melrose starring at 7-6 deficit with 9:46 to play in the half.
Wilmington then went on a 16-play drive that consumed more than 9 minutes and the Wildcats had the ball at the 4-yard line with 9.4 seconds left in the half. But Melrose junior Shea Fogarty intercepted Pedro Germano’s pass at the 2 with 2.2 seconds left and the Red Raiders had escaped, happy to be starring at just a one-point deficit at the break.
The third quarter was scoreless but the Melrose comeback started with 39 seconds left in the quarter when Matt Hickey jumped on a Wilmington fumble. On the second play, Fennell hit Liam Maher for a 67-yard completion to the Wilmington 1. On the second play of the fourth quarter, Fennell ran it in from 2 yards out and following the two-point conversion, Melrose had its first lead 14-7.
Wilmington was now in comeback mode but two penalties hurt the Wildcats. The first took away a Wilmington first down and the second set up Melrose for its last score, a 19-yard run by Fennell with 1:30 to play.
Amesbury 20, North Reading 0 — Kyle Donovan found the end zone twice in the first half with runs of 30 and 4 yards as host Amesbury (3-1) registered its second consecutive shutout in the Cape Ann League.
Bellingham 43, Dover-Sherborn 7 — The trio of Gavin Elder (18-for-25 passing, 257 yards, 3 TDs), Blake Simpson (191 all-purpose yards, 2 TDs) and Ty Warren (4 catches, 126 yards, 3 TDs) was unstoppable for the host Blackhawks, who improved to 3-0 in the Tri-Valley League.
Bishop Stang 27, Austin Prep 13 — Frankie Hernandez-Manon converted scoring runs of 1, 8, and 6 yards to guide the host Spartans (3-1) to the Catholic Central win.
Bridgewater-Raynham 48, Dartmouth 24 — Senior Anthony Morrison (16 carries, 297 yards, 5 TDs) scored on the first play of each half — a 73-yard run in the first and a 55-yarder to begin the third — to power the 11th-ranked Trojans (4-0) to the Southeast Conference win.
Brockton 41, New Bedford 0 — Senior Devonte Medley (8 carries, 109 yards; 8-of-11 passing, 142 yards) accounted for four touchdowns in the first half, rushing for two scores and passing for two more in the Southeast Conference victory.
Central Catholic 47, Billerica 6 — Ayden Pereira was 9-of-12 passing for 129 yards and two touchdowns as the third-ranked Raiders (4-0) rolled to a 27-0 cushion in the first quarter of the Merrimack Valley Conference win.
Dennis-Yarmouth 22, Nauset 20 — The Dolphins (2-2) stopped a potential game-tying two-point conversion in the fourth quarter to hold off the host Warriors’ second-half comeback attempt. Sophomore quarterback Henry Machnik threw three touchdowns in the first half for the visitors.
Hamilton-Wenham 21, Pentucket 14 — Carter Coffey scored once on the ground and threw for a pair of touchdowns, including a 7-yard connection with Markus Nordin in the third quarter that gave the host Generals (1-3) the Cape Ann League win.
Hopkinton 42, Medfield 36 — Senior quarterback Cole Salyards scrambled for a go-ahead 8-yard touchdown with 11 seconds left as the Hillers (1-2) pulled out the wild Tri-Valley League win. Less than two minutes earlier, the Warriors (1-2) looked to be headed toward a dramatic victory when quarterback Ryan Murray hit James Wilder for a 50-yard touchdown and Wilder rushed for a two-point conversion to put his side up by one. Cam Mulvaney rushed for three touchdowns for Hopkinton and Salyards threw for a touchdown and ran for two, including his winning score.
Lynnfield 29, Manchester Essex 0 — Austin Sutera threw three touchdown passes, two of which went to Blake Peters, who also had an interception for the visiting Pioneers (4-0). Jack Ford caught a touchdown pass and ran back a fumble 98 yards for a score in the second quarter of the Cape Ann League matchup.
Mansfield 28, King Philip 0 — The Hornets (3-0) racked up their entire offensive output in the first half, including a pair of Cincere Gill touchdown runs (5 yards, 59 yards) and two Everett Knowlton reception scores (11 yards, 10 yards) in the Hockomock League tilt.
Marblehead 35, Masconomet 19 — Joshua Robertson threw four touchdown passes — three to James Doody — as the 16th-ranked Magicians improve to 4-0 in the Northeastern Conference presented coach Jim Rudloff his 100th career win (in 128 games). “Having great players for 12 years really helped this happen,” Rudloff said. He also credited the coaching staff that’s been with him for the majority of his tenure at Marblehead: Mike Giardi, Tom Walsh, Steve Lewis, and Nick Broughton. The Magicians have reached the Super Bowl twice under Rudloff, first in 2009 and again in 2016.
Medway 38, Dedham 13 — The Mustangs (3-0) jumped out to a 28-point lead against the Marauders on their way to a Tri-Valley League road victory. Junior quarterback Sean Converse ran for two touchdowns and threw for another.
Milford 34, Franklin 27 — Two defensive touchdowns — a 32-yard fumble recovery by Evan Hazard in the second quarter and a 60-yard pick-6 from Kevin O’Connor in the fourth — helped the 12th-ranked Scarlet Hawks (3-1) escape Franklin (2-2) with the Hockomock win. UMass commit Brady Olson was stifled through the air but cashed in on a pair of 1-yard keepers for Milford.
Milton 35, Bedford 21 — Chase Vaughn rushed for a 1-yard score and threw a 61-yard touchdown pass to Cassius Touissaint as part of a 35-point unanswered run for the 19th-ranked Wildcats (3-1), who seized the nonconference victory on the road.
Reading 30, Belmont 7 — Lucas Fleming scored a pair of second-quarter touchdowns to lead the 9th-ranked Rockets to the home Middlesex League victory.
Rockland 21, Whitman-Hanson 0 — Joey Nguyen broke free for touchdown runs of 45 and 48 yards on his way to 154 yards rushing as the visiting Bulldogs (4-0) stayed unbeaten with the nonconference win.
St. John’s Prep 14, St. John’s (Shrewsbury) 7 — Jack Perry tossed a pair of touchdown passes, including a 74-yarder to Jesse Ofurie in the first and a 10-yard fade to Stephon Patrick in the fourth, to put the visiting Eagles (2-2) on top. James Guy piled up 183 yards on the ground for Prep in the Catholic Conference battle.
St. Mary’s 32, Millis 12 — Junior Ali Berry ran finished off three drives with short-yardage scoring runs and also threw a 38-yard TD to David Brown in the fourth quarter for the host Spartans (1-2) in the nonleague win.
Stoneham 42, Watertown 0 — Chris Dragone (37, 47 yards) and Jake Bruno (15, 12 yards) rushed for two touchdowns apiece as the visiting Spartans improved to 1-1 in the Middlesex League.
Upper Cape 7, Cape Cod Tech 0 — Senior quarterback Thomas Zine connected with senior Jonny Brightman in the second quarter for an 18-yard scoring pass in the Mayflower victory for the Rams (3-0).
Wakefield 9, Burlington 7 — Senior captain Danny Hurley booted three field goals and picked off a pass to lift the host Warriors to the Middlesex League win.
Winchester 20, Arlington 0 — Gabe Morris racked up three sacks and Camilo Vozzella made eight tackles and had an interception as Winchester (2-1) recorded its second consecutive shutout in the Middlesex League. Derek Gianci scored on runs of 7 and 3 yards in the first half.
Woburn 42, Lexington 7 — Symon Sathler rushed for 215 yards and four touchdowns on 15 carries through three quarters as the host Tanners (1-2) toppled the Minutemen in the Middlesex League victory.
Globe correspondents Colin Bannen, Ethan McDowell, Steven Sousa and Charlie Wolfson contributed to this report.