TEWKSBURY — In a game that featured 13 touchdown drives, a series that did not result in points decided the victor.
Clinging to a touchdown lead with 7:38 remaining, Tewksbury overcame back-to-back holding penalties and moved the chains four times to run out the clock, defeating North Andover, 49-42, at Doucette Stadium Saturday afternoon.
The Redmen, who led, 21-0, in the second quarter, had to hold off a furious comeback from the Scarlet Knights, who scored on all four of their second-half possessions.
“I’m going to be the baldest guy in the league by the end of the year with games like that,” joked Tewksbury coach Brian Aylward. “Both teams had times when they really needed to make plays, and our guys ended up making more of them than the other guys.”
Trailing, 33-14, at halftime, North Andover (3-4, 2-1 Merrimack Valley) got right to work in the third quarter, needing only three plays to travel 62 yards. Quarterback Casey Walsh found Tyler Whitley in the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown strike only 32 seconds into the third frame to cut the deficit to 12.
After a three and out by the Redmen, Walsh led an 11-play, 80-yard drive for another score, this time finished off with a 23-yard pass to Matt Iannone to make it 33-28 Tewksbury.
“Casey played inspired,” said North Andover coach John Rafferty. “He did a great job trying to lead us right out of the bad hole. He’s a tough kid.”
Tewksbury pushed the lead to 41-28 on the next series when James Sullivan swept around the right end and dove across the goal line on a 26-yard score, and QB Johnny Aylward added the two-point conversion.
The Scarlet Knights again cruised down the field, reaching the end zone with a 32-yard hookup from Walsh to Whitley on a go route to cut the lead to 41-35.
Aylward scored his second rushing TD of the contest on the next series, this from three yards away, pushing the Redmen up, 49-35. Three plays and 28 seconds later, North Andover responded as Walsh sneaked in from two yards away for a 49-42 deficit. Though nearly eight minutes remained, North Andover did not see the ball again.
“We put ourselves in a bad hole, down three scores like that,” Rafferty said. “We just needed a stop on defense, maybe once, maybe twice. We didn’t get it done.”
The hosts jumped to a 14-0 first quarter lead thanks to a 6-yard toss from Aylward to Kevin Dick and a 47-yard scamper up the middle from Tom Casey. After Ed Matovu’s 1-yard run made it 21-0, North Andover got on the board with a 21-yard toss from Walsh to Robert Schkliew.
The Redmen (4-4, 3-0 MVC) take over first place in the league.