BEVERLY — Beverly football coach Andrew Morency knows that a good defense can make up for a lot in high school football.
A week after a shutout win over Wakefield, Beverly held Gloucester, the defending Northeastern Conference South champion, scoreless until late in the third quarter en route to a 28-12 victory at Hurd Stadium on Saturday.
“So far the trademark of our team has been play good defense and see if our offense can plug away and get scores when we need them,” Morency said.
With less than a minute to go until halftime and the Fishermen trailing by 21, they elected to try and squeak out some points before the break.
Gloucester senior quarterback Nate Young threw a pass down the middle of the field that was intercepted by Beverly senior Hugh Calice. Two plays later, senior quarterback Kevin Morency connected with Calice for the second time in the game, this time for a 24-yard touchdown pass that gave the Panthers all the cushion they needed.
“[Calice] is a sound, all-around football player,” Coach Morency said. “I am just lucky he is on my team because he can do it all.”
Beverly (2-0) wasted no time in jumping out to a lead on the opening drive. Morency found Calice on a quick slant and let the 6-foot wideout do the rest from 42 yards out.
After a short drive and punt by the Fishermen, Beverly senior tailback Sam Abate took the second play of the series 43 yards to build the lead to two scores.
Feeling the pressure of a 14-point deficit, Gloucester later went for it on fourth and 2 at the 45-yard line. As senior running back Jermaine Edward took the ball, he was met and denied by a pack of Panthers short of the first down.
Four plays later, Beverly made the Fishermen pay. Morency evaded a sack at the 33-yard line and bounced off a couple more defenders down the left side before diving inside the pylon.
Gloucester (1-1) finally broke through with 1:10 left in the third quarter as senior Marc Smith went 19 yards to paydirt on fourth down.
The Fishermen and Smith scored again on a 1-yard run after recovering a Beverly fumble at the 4-yard line.
But as the clock ticked under three minutes, the hole was too big for Gloucester to climb out.
“That first half we showed our potential that we can pass and run,” said Coach Morency. “I think that is the sign of a good football team.”
Karl Capen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.