The Tewksbury High offense exploded for 49 points in the biggest win of their season, a 49-42 barnburner against North Andover on Saturday at Doucette Field.
Both teams came into the game with 2-0 records in the Merrimack Valley Small Conference. The winner ended up with a clear path to the MVC Small title.
“We have an opportunity to leave our mark here as a group,” said an exasperated head coach Brian Aylward after the bout.
“I’m going to be the baldest guy in the league by the end of the year,” he joked, after another high scoring shootout that was memorable experience for spectators.
“Both teams had times when they really needed to make plays,” said Aylward. “Our guys ended up making more than the other guys, and that’s what it always boils down to.”
Tewksbury jumped out to a 21-0 lead with a Kevin Dick touchdown catch, a 47 yard touchdown run by Tom Casey, and Eddie Matovu’s first of two touchdown runs.
North Andover found its groove in the second quarter when Casey Walsh threw a touchdown and ran for a touchdown, but Tewksbury got three rushing scores, two from Matovu and one from Johnny Aylward.
The third quarter saw the Knights score three touchdowns (two catches by Tyler Whitley and one to Matt Iannone) to Tewksbury’s one, a 26 yard rush by James Sullivan.
In the fourth, Johnny Aylward and Casey Walsh each had a touchdown rush before the Redmen clinically killed the clock and destroyed North Andover’s hopes of winning the conference.
Tewksbury (4-4 overall, 3-0 MVC Small) can now clinch their conference championship with wins in either of next two games against Methuen and Dracut.
In his biggest game of his high school career, Tewksbury quarterback Johnny Aylward shined. His three touchdowns (two rushing, one passing) paced the Redmen who held the ball for the final 7:44 of the game.
On the final drive, Aylward and his offense picked up one clutch first down after another.
“He wants the ball in those situations,” said his father and coach. “He’s showing a lot of poise and that’s what we’re asking of him.”
Eddie Matovu continued his phenomenal offensive play with a pair of first half touchdown runs. Fellow running back James Sullivan had a touchdown and numerous runs that crushed the will of the North Andover defense.
“Sully I thought had his best game for us, and he’s just a sophomore,” Aylward said of Sullivan.
Tewksbury had the ball and seven point lead and 7:44 left in the fourth. Consecutive holding penalties made it look like the hot North Andover offensive would get a final chance to tie up the game.
“That was just another challenge that they had to overcome with the back to back penalties,” Aylward said. “What a shame it would have been to lose it because of mental mistakes in the end.”
The Redmen offense pulled out key play after key play to clinch the game. Matovu made a huge third down conversion, Aylward rushed for another one, and after a tense measurement, Matovu picked up the game clinching first down on a hard fought rush up the gut.
“We beat up the clock on that drive,” Aylward said.
North Andover quarterback Casey Walsh put together one of his best career game’s in the losing effort. His four passing touchdowns and two rushing touchdowns humbled the Tewksbury defense.
“Their quarterback’s a tremendous player,” Aylward said of Walsh. “Every quarterback on our schedule has been outstanding,” he pointed out.
On Friday night, the Redmen travel to Methuen (2-6), who will be trying to play the spoiler role.
“I don’t care if it’s Methuen’s Super Bowl, it’s our Super Bowl,” declared Aylward.
The Redmen would clinch the MVC Small title with a road win. They can also clinch in two weeks when they host Dracut.