Winthrop High head football coach Sean Driscoll didn’t have to look at the rushing statistics to know that the Danvers running backs had been very effective against the Vikings’ defense in the season opener.
In fact, the host Falcons amassed 383 yards rushing, including two players breaking the 100-yard barrier, as Winthrop fell short by a 23-18 score Friday night at Dr. Deering Stadium.
Though Danvers had an edge in the rushing game, Winthrop’s own offensive firepower in the second half produced a furious rally and a last-ditch drive that almost resulted in the go-ahead touchdown in the final minute.
Junior running back Jordan Corbett-Frank (14 carries for 90 yards), senior David Gallo (two touchdowns), and freshman Reise Turransky (4 carries for 22 yards) helped Winthrop twice advance to within one score of the lead.
After a 35-yard field goal by Danvers’ Anthony Garron made it 23-18 with 2:07 left, sophomore quarterback Dylan Driscoll and the resurgent ground game put Winthrop in a place to win it.
But Winthrop’s final possession ended when Driscoll’s pass was tipped into the arms of Danvers linebacker Jake Cawlina. Senior back Bo Diaz appeared to be open for a pass beyond the Danvers secondary for what could have been a dramatic TD connection.
Driscoll was pleased with his team’s second-half showing.
“I challenged the team at halftime and I thought we made some pretty good adjustments up front,” said Driscoll. “I think we moved the ball, looked very good at times, and wore them down in the second half.”
However, the Vikings’ inability to stop the run was foremost on Driscoll’s “things we must improve upon” list.
“It seemed like we were always playing catch-up in the second half,” said Driscoll. “Our biggest problems were defense and tackling. Danvers has some really good backs and their quarterback led them. But we have to play better than we were up front. It’s disappointing because we’re a better team than we showed tonight. I think the humidity made it a slow game and that was a factor for both teams.”
Danvers coach Sean Rogers credited his team’s line play and experience as factors in the victory while also lauding Winthrop’s hard-nosed effort.
“We have a veteran team and we made some plays when we needed them,” said Rogers. “The line did a great job opening the holes. But I give a lot of credit to Winthrop. They’re tough, they’re fast and they’re going to hurt a lot of teams. We came out of this game bumped and bruised because of how hard Winthrop plays.”
Winthrop plays Swampscott Saturday at noon at Blocksidge Field in Swampscott.