Pioneer defense blanks Manchester-Essex in 29-0 rout

Apr 7, 2021 by

4-0 Lynnfield travels to 3-0 Ipswich on Friday

Published April 7, 2021


MANCHESTER-BY-THE-SEA – It was a brisk spring afternoon at Joseph M. Hyland Field last Saturday when Manchester Essex (1-2) hosted Lynnfield (3-0) for the Pioneers’ first road test of the season.

After the offense lit up the scoreboard in a 46-21 season opening victory, the talk of the town the past two weeks has been the Lynnfield defense. Coming off the heels of Spencer Riley’s game-winning pick six during Lynnfield’s 13-7 win over Pentucket on March 26, the play of the game on Saturday would once again come from the defense who led the Pioneers to a 29-0 win over the Hornets and a 4-0 record.

An opening three-and-out on offense may not have been the start Lynnfield was looking for, although they would not have to wait long for another chance. A towering Trent Balian punt pinned Manchester-Essex at their own 1-yard line. Despite a 15-yard Joseph Daly run on 1st down, the Pioneer defense tightened up and quickly sent the offense back to the sideline.

BLAKE PETERS had five receptions for 81 yards and two TD’s against Manchester-Essex on Saturday. Peters also had an interception for the Pioneer defense. (File Photo)

On Lynnfield’s second possession, the offense would find their groove. With a balanced attack of six rushes and six passes, the Pioneers methodically moved the ball into Hornets territory. Twice, Lynnfield faced a 4th-and-short, but great blocking up front and powerful runs from senior captain DJ Capachietti (6 carries, 43 yards) kept the drive alive.

After erasing six minutes from the game clock, the Pioneers would take their shot on the first play of the second quarter. Lynnfield had the ball at the Hornets’ 16 yard line when senior quarterback Austin Sutera (14-24, 144 yards, 3 touchdowns) looked to a familiar target. Despite the double coverage, senior captain Jack Ford (3 catches, 22 yards, 1 touchdown) was able to blow by the cornerback and safety before hauling in the pass in the corner of the endzone. Sutera would look Ford’s way once again on the fake extra point to give Lynnfield an 8-0 lead.

Following a solid kick return, Manchester-Essex’s next drive would begin right around midfield. In seven plays, with two critical third down conversions, the Hornets found themselves inside the Pioneers’ 10-yard line. On 3rd-and-goal, only two yards removed from the endzone, Manchester Essex looked to regain momentum with a touchdown. The Hornets would not be the ones to score though.

Junior receiver Ambrose Pallazola motioned pre-snap before taking a handoff from senior quarterback William Levendusky. With his eyes on the endzone, Pallazola tried to turn the corner but was met by junior linebacker Spencer Riley. Coming in like a heat-seeking missile, Riley punched the ball out of the receiver’s hands and onto the turf. Jack Ford swiftly secured the loose ball and 98 yards later would be celebrating with his teammates in the opposite end zone.

“What a great turnover,” commented Lynnfield head coach Pat Lamusta after the game. “It was also nice the guys were smart as the play was developing by not getting a holding call.”

SPENCER RILEY (24), coming off a game-winning pick six against Pentucket on March 26 (pictured with Nick Boustris), forced a fumble that led to a touchdown return by Jack Ford in Saturday’s win over Manchester-Essex. Riley’s forced fumble was the first of six turnovers caused by the Lynnfield defense in their 29-0 win over the Hornets. (File Photo)

The Pioneers would take the 15-0 lead into the second half, but not before forcing another turnover on defense. With just under a minute remaining in the 2nd quarter, Levendusky heaved a Hail Mary from midfield to try and give the Hornets one more shot at scoring. Senior captain Bakari Mitchell quickly put an end to that thought as he snatched the high arching pass from the receiver’s hands at the Manchester-Essex 10-yard line.

When the second half began, the Hornets tried shaking things up under center replacing Levendusky with sophomore quarterback Brennan Twombly. The offense may have looked different, but the results remained the same. On 3rd-and-3 from the Pioneers’ 48-yard line, Twombly threw a high pass over his intended target. The receiver was able to get a hand on it but tipped the ball directly into the arms of Lynnfield defensive back Blake Peters.

Following a 29-yard interception return, the Pioneers looked for the knockout blow. After driving inside the Hornets 10-yard line, Lynnfield would endure their own red zone turnover fumbling it at the 4. Trailing by only two scores, the Hornets had new life and a chance to get back into the ballgame.

Once again though, the Pioneer defense would not allow it.

With under three minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter, Twombly handed it off to running back Joseph Daly in motion. With nowhere to run, Daly tried cutting back inside only to find charging linebacker DJ Capachietti heading his way. The senior linebacker stripped the ball from Daly’s hands before jumping on it for another defensive takeaway.

“You see plays like that because he [Capachietti] is so consistent with his fundamentals,” claimed coach Lamusta on his senior captain linebacker. “He’s got the football IQ that coaches would love to have.”

Following yet another turnover on defense, Lynnfield’s offense would finish the job this time. On 3rd-and-7 from the Manchester-Essex 13-yard line, Sutera fired a pass to the end zone where a Hornets defender tipped it. As the ball hung in the air, time stood still until senior receiver Blake Peters (5 catches, 79 yards, 2 touchdowns) snagged it and secured it to the ground for the score.

Peters’ acrobatic touchdown ended any chance of a Manchester Essex comeback. The only question that remained now was whether or not the Pioneers could complete the shutout. Early in the 4th quarter, the Hornets drove deep into Lynnfield territory, but once again a Bakari Mitchell interception would leave Manchester-Essex empty handed.

Lynnfield’s offense chewed up the clock for the remainder of the 4th quarter and capped off their final drive with another touchdown pass from Sutera to Peters. On the last play of the game, the Pioneers insured the shutout generating their sixth turnover with a John Berquist interception.

The 29-0 victory brings Lynnfield their first 4-0 start since 2017. That 2017 season also included last time the Pioneer defense produced a shutout. After the game, coach Lamusta was quick to hand out credit to first year defensive coordinator Joe Ford stating, “It’s his first year as defensive coordinator and he’s really doing a nice job getting the kids to play fast, physical and force turnovers.”

If Lynnfield wants to remain unbeaten, they will need that same level of play this Friday night (April 9, 5 p.m.) in Ipswich. The 3-0 Tigers bring a high-powered offense to the table averaging 26 points per game compared to a stout Lynnfield defense only allowing 8.75 points per game. Going into what could be the game of the year, coach Lamusta knows this week’s preparation will greatly impact Friday night’s outcome.

“We’re going to need an excellent week of practice to get ready for them. The Ipswich Tigers are very, very good.

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