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HS Football | Marblehead 12, North Andover 7

Marblehead extends its state-best winning streak to 23 games in close call at North Andover

Marblehead’s Connor Cronin (right) celebrates his go-ahead 39-yard touchdown catch with teammate Ryan Commoss as North Andover’s Michael McNaught walks away at the end of the third quarter of the Magicians' 12-7 victory Friday night in North Andover.Winslow Townson for The Boston Globe

NORTH ANDOVER – Marblehead survived another close game Friday night to move to 3-0 and extend its state-best win streak to 23 games.

But veteran coach Jim Rudloff wasn’t satisfied with his players’ execution during a narrow 12-7 win at North Andover’s Joe Walsh Stadium.

“We’ve had frustrating games to this point,” said Rudloff, who steered his team to a comeback win over Lynnfield on an emotional night last Friday.

“We couldn’t get out of our own way. In the first half we were doing everything we possibly could to give the game away. It wasn’t a good night for Marblehead at all, fortunately things turned out well for us on the scoreboard.”


North Andover (2-1) forced several punts in the early going before sophomore quarterback Drew Fitzgerald hit Cam Partridge for a 28-yard touchdown to open the scoring in the second quarter.

Marblehead (3-0) responded quickly with junior quarterback Miles O’Neill (14-for-25, 188 yards, 2 TDs, INT) leading a two-minute drill that ended with a 9-yard touchdown strike to junior Ryan Commoss.

Marblehead quarterback Miles O'Neill, scrambling away from North Andover's Nathan Jacques, completed 14 of 25 passes for 188 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Friday night's 12-7 win over North Andover.Winslow Townson for The Boston Globe

Neither team could break through in the second half until Connor Cronin — who totaled over 200 receiving yards and three scores in the Division 3 Super Bowl last December — provided some magic.

O’Neill was able to extend a play before finding Cronin (6 receptions, 70 yards) for a 21-yard gain on third down, then found his senior captain for a 39-yard touchdown on fourth-and-14 to make it 12-7 Marblehead in the waning seconds of the third quarter.

“I love going for it on fourth down there,” said Cronin. “Great play call. I saw the space, Miles threw it up, and I was able to run under it.”

From there, Marblehead’s stifling defense sealed the deal, as junior linebacker Christian Pacheco made a pair of plays in the backfield to deny the Scarlet Knights any momentum on their final drive.


As his team moves into Northeastern Conference play and prepares for another tough game against No. 19 Peabody, Rudloff continues to look for ways to sharpen the Magicians’ attention.

“I’ve run out of things to do,” Rudloff said. “We’re trying to find little things, like today we had the Globe and Herald pick against us. That always helps. Every team has different things you come up with to [motivate them]. We seemed to be in a fog the whole game, though, it’s disappointing. We have a long way to go.”