SAUGUS - Beverly's 1-point halftime lead left much to the imagination but the Panthers left nothing to chance in the third quarter, scoring 21 points to pull away en route to a 35-13 Northeastern Small victory over Saugus yesterday.
"It was a battle during the first half," said Beverly coach Dan Bauer. "But the second half I really thought our kids came out and played hard. I thought we played much better and much sharper."
Senior running back Rashad Sims and junior quarterback Mark Hannable were the catalysts for Beverly (6-1, 1-0) in the third quarter, Sims running for two touchdowns and Hannable throwing the second of his two touchdown passes. Hannable, who ran for 70 yards and passed for 165, got the ball rolling for the Panthers in the first quarter with a 36-yard touchdown run.
Saugus (4-2, 0-2) came on strong in the second quarter. Shamir Guillame capped a drive with a 15-yard run, but the PAT was unsuccessful.
The Sachems capitalized again five minutes later, Brett Reid scoring on a 2-yard keeper. Alex DiPesa added the extra point, giving Saugus a lead that lasted just short of a minute.
Hannable connected with Justin Marrs from 26 yards out, where Marrs ran up the right sideline with no coverage to tie the game at 13-13. George Louis's second PAT kick gave the Panthers a 14-13 lead with nine seconds left in the half.
"The drive before the half was tremendous," Bauer said. "Any time you score right before the half you get the momentum you need in the second half to play the offense."
The Sachems hoped to pick up momentum on the first drive of the second half but Saugus was forced to punt and the Panthers began their drive at the Saugus 40.
Sims, who had 139 yards on 11 carries, scored from the 40 on the first play from scrimmage for Beverly, giving the Panthers a 20-13 lead.
After forcing a three-and-out, the Panthers started at their 36. Hannable rushed to the Saugus 46, then handed the ball to Sims on the next play for another Beverly touchdown. A 2-point conversion pass from Hannable to running back Dylan Terry made it 28-13 with half of the third quarter remaining.
With less than a minute left in the third, Beverly took over on downs at its 40, setting up the Panthers' third touchdown of the third quarter. A Sims carry gave the Panthers a first down at midfield. Hannable then aired it out, tight end Steve Dubois going long for the final Beverly TD.