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Tewksbury 28, Haverhill 14

Tewksbury nets MVC Div. 2 crown behind suffocating defense

TEWKSBURY — Playing under the lights for the first time ever at Doucette Field, it was the Tewksbury defense that shined brightest on Friday night.

Led by a stifling front seven, the No. 12 Redmen grinded out a 28-14 win over Haverhill (4-2) to clinch the Merrimack Valley Conference Division 2 title.

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“We knew we had all we could handle tonight,” said Tewksbury coach Brian Aylward. “Our guys made plays when they needed to.”

Tewksbury (6-0) scored two touchdowns in just over two minutes near the end of the first half for a 21-7 lead, which was enough to wrap up the win thanks to the stingy defense.

“That was huge,” Aylward said.

The Redmen used two key fourth-down conversions to sustain those scoring drives. The first came on fourth and 1 from their 49-yard line, when Tom Casey burst through the line for a 26-yard carry. Seven plays later, Casey powered into the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown.

After the defense forced a three-and-out in which the Hillies lost 25 yards, Tewksbury was driving again before running into trouble. Facing a fourth and 4 at the Haverhill 9-yard line, James Sullivan was able to convert with an 8-yard run.

He scored a 1-yard TD on the next play.

With the lead in hand, the Tewksbury defense took over. Casey and senior linebackers Eddie Matovu and John Saunders often got into the Haverhill backfield for losses.

Ian Kessel was the only Hillie to find the end zone.

Quarterback Johnny Aylward also threw for two touchdowns for the Redmen.

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