BEVERLY — The final snap of Clayton McAlpine’s high school football career was a special one.
With his team ahead by a touchdown and Salem driving, the Beverly senior blitzed off the left edge, sacking quarterback Nate Minaya for a 15-yard loss.
The clock dwindled to zero before the Witches could run another play, McAlpine’s sack sealing the 14-7 win for host Beverly in the 120th meeting between the Northeast Conference rivals on Thanksgiving Day.
“Before the play even started I went to Coach and I’m just like, ‘Let me fly, let me fly,” McAlpine said. “I went and I was able to do it. It was good to come out on top this year.”
Salem (5-6) had a pair of opportunities to tie the game in the fourth quarter, but both times the defense of Beverly (6-5) rose to the occasion.
After Salem scored and recovered an onside kick, senior Mikey Andersen picked off Minaya to halt the momentum. On the next drive, McAlpine delivered the winning sack at midfield as time expired.
“On a day like this you expect the defense to have a huge part of the outcome and I think that’s what you saw,” coach Andrew Morency said. “We were able to make Salem earn every yard and make that big play at the end.”
McAlpine (23 carries, 80 yards, 1 TD) put Beverly ahead in the second quarter when he capped off a nine-play, 55-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. The senior converted the 2-point conversion to make it 8-0.
Quarterback Ryan Barror, who completed 2 of his 4 pass attempts, found receiver Patrick Parsons on an 11-yard touchdown pass, giving Beverly a 14-0 advantage with 1:55 left in the third quarter.
But Salem controlled the fourth quarter. Junior Jaydrian Garcia took a double-reverse handoff and rumbled into the end zone from 9 yards with 6:29 left to cut the Beverly lead in half.
“It’s huge, it’s how everyone wants to end it,” McAlpine said. “We’ll remember this one.”Matthew Doherty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org