Raiders conquer Lions
Central Catholic beats rival to stay on top of the MVC
LAWRENCE — Backed by 122 rushing yards and two touchdowns by Trae Musumarra and a fourth-quarter safety from Jaycob Morales, Central Catholic (6-2, 2-0 MVC) remained atop the Merrimack Valley Conference Large Division with a 23-21 win over Chelmsford (5-3, 1-1) yesterday.
“It’s huge — I’m telling you,’’ Morales said. “Coach was saying it all week — this win really puts us in the driver’s seat.’’
The teams went into the fourth quarter tied at 14. Early in the final frame, Central punter Ben Onett boomed a 69-yard punt that the Raiders downed inside the Chelmsford 1-yard line.
On the second play of the drive, Morales scored a safety when he brought down Chelmsford backup quarterback Colby Emanouil — in for injured AJ Rotella (sprained ankle).
“Coach [Chuck Adamopoulos] told me he was going to roll out,’’ Morales said. “I saw the quarterback roll out. He had the ball in his hand, and I knew it was going to be a safety all along.’’
Central returned the ensuing kickoff to midfield, and three plays later, Musumarra punched in from the 2-yard line to extend the lead to 23-14 with just over five minutes to play.
The score was Musumarra’s second — his first came on an 82-yard toss with 6:03 left in the second quarter. The senior carried the ball eight times for 114 yards in the first half before an ankle injury limited him to just three carries and 8 yards in the second. Adamopolous said Musumarra’s status was unknown.
“He’s been doing that stuff all year for us,’’ Adamopoulos said. “He’s a good player. I think he’s one of the top guys in the league. When they discuss top guys in this league, he should be in the discussion.’’
The Lions picked up just one first down before turning the ball over on downs on their next possession, giving Central the ball at midfield.
However, Central would go three-and-out, leading to another Onett punt.
The junior again punted the ball near the Chelmsford goal line, but returner Zach Hayes picked the ball up at his own 1-yard line, avoided two defenders and barrelled 99 yards down the sideline for a touchdown, trimming the lead to 23-21.
“We tell him if he goes back and he can pick that ball up and he’s the first one there, he’s a great playmaker and he’s been doing that all year,’’ Chelmsford coach Bruce Rich said. “It’s not a bad risk, especially inside the red zone.’’
Chelmsford failed to recover the ensuing onside kick, however, ending the comeback effort. The Lions regained possession with :47.1 left to play, but didn’t threaten to score.