Beverly ends Peabody’s surge
PEABODY - Peabody football has been synonymous with mediocrity for the better part of a decade - their last winning season came in 2004 - but after the Tanners’ 3-0 start this season, it looked as though they were ready for prime time.
Then they met defending Division 3 Super Bowl champion Beverly yesterday afternoon. The No. 14 Panthers (4-1) quickly took control, relying on their prolific running corps to bury the Tanners, 34-0.
Brendan Flaherty led the Panthers, running for 105 yards and two touchdowns and returning an interception for a third.
“Every week somebody else has stepped up to the plate,’’ said Beverly coach Dan Bauer. “[Flaherty] stepped up to the plate and made some big plays. The other guys did a lot of the dirty work too - Dom [Abate], Kenny [Pierce], and Nick [Theriault] - they all had their yards in there and you’ve got to respect all those players.’’
Peabody’s opening drive stalled just past midfield, and after a botched punt - the snap was mishandled, with the punter barely getting the kick off - the Panthers took over on their 40.
Beverly had no trouble moving the ball, picking up 46 yards in just seven plays, but Abate fumbled on the 14-yard line, and the Tanners recovered. Peabody running back Nat Gaye returned the favor three plays later, however, and the Panthers didn’t waste their second opportunity.
Dave Rollins ran in a quarterback sneak to put Beverly up, 7-0.
It was the first of three first-half touchdowns by the Panthers, who got a pair of dazzling TD runs from Flaherty, a 60-yarder and a 16-yarder, in the second quarter to build a 21-0 halftime edge. The Tanners, by contrast, had just three first downs in the opening half.
And Beverly wasn’t done.
Abate took the second-half kickoff 48 yards to the Peabody 33. Rollins connected with Abate for a 20-yard TD on the Panthers’ only pass of the game.
Peabody made its first incursion into the red zone on its ensuing possession, but Jason Hiou’s pass was picked off by Flaherty, who returned it 85 yards for the final tally.
Pierce was the Panthers’ second-leading rusher with 90 yards. Abate had 52 rushing yards and a 2-point conversion in addition to his touchdown. Gaye led Peabody with 62 yards.