After seeing red, Marblehead rolls
Defense, Quigley beat Swampscott
MARBLEHEAD - Marblehead coach Jim Rudloff knew what he had going into his Thanksgiving game against No. 16 Swampscott yesterday - a resilient team with a good running game and, most importantly when facing a team like the Big Blue, a strong defense.
But he had a little something else up his sleeve, too. On a day when tradition is usually embraced, the Magicians changed it up, sporting red jerseys that Rudloff purchased with extra money from school fund-raising programs.
“I didn’t tell a soul. We warmed up in our black uniforms [today], we went in the field house, I took the captains into the coach’s office, the shirts were sitting there and the kids went bananas . . . they went nuts. I knew somehow or another on this day it would be special to do something for this group and it worked.’’
It was a way for Rudloff to thank his players for all their hard work on a day that is dedicated to giving thanks, and the squad’s hard work paid off as the Magicians’ defense put on its most stellar performance of the season, shutting down Swampscott’s high-flying offense and league MVP Michael Walsh in a 21-7 win to secure the CAL/NEC Division 2 title and their second Division 2A playoff berth in three years. The Magicians will play Wakefield Tuesday.
“We thought we could win a 24-21 game, that’s kind of what the plan was during the week,’’ Rudloff said. “We knew if it got up any higher than that we wouldn’t win. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we could hold them below 14 points.’’
Swampscott (9-2, 4-1) ran into trouble early. Aiden Lang lost a fumble on the first offensive play of the game and the Big Blue went three-and-out on two of their next three possessions before halftime. The Magicians (8-2, 5-0) held Swampscott to 14 plays and 51 yards in the first half, and entered the break leading, 6-0, on a 3-yard run by quarterback Ian Maag (5-for-9 passing, 15 carries for 58 yards).
“That’s the best defense, keep Walsh off the field,’’ Rudloff said. “Nobody scared us more than Walsh, to defend him is almost an impossibility, but our kids stepped up and did great.’’
Swampscott opened the second half with a 54-yard drive, but Marblehead shut the door on four attempts by the Big Blue inside the 10.
On fourth-and-goal at the 4, Will Quigley took down Richard Sullivan for a 5-yard loss on a swing pass to give the Magicians the ball.
“We didn’t make plays,’’ Swampscott coach Steve Dembowski said. “The bottom line is we dropped passes, we fumbled, we had to punt . . . I think Marblehead did exactly what they’ve done all year, they played good defense, ran the ball with Quigley . . . we didn’t make the plays today and they made them, so they won.’’
Quigley (139 yards on 15 carries), who entered tied for third in Division 2 with 17 touchdowns, put Marblehead on the board twice in the second half. He ran 66 yards for a TD in the third quarter to make it 14-0.
After Walsh scored on a 1-yard run, Quigley answered with a 39-yard TD with 1:30 remaining and Cam Frary sealed the win when he intercepted Walsh on the first play of the next drive.
“What’s more amazing than the season he’s had is that everybody knows he’s getting the ball,’’ Rudloff said of Quigley. “Everybody knows you have to stop him and he’s still able to do the things that he does.’’