Salem (MA) Witches Football '19

Sat, Nov 16, 2019 10:30 AM @ Whittier
Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Salem (MA) 0 6 8 8 22
Whittier 14 22 0 8 44

Whittier runs all over Salem

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HAVERHILL — Whittier Tech senior back AJ Espinal spent the third quarter and half of the fourth quarter on the sideline Saturday morning as the Wildcats' reserves got their chance to show off.

It may ultimately cost him a chance to reach 1,000 yards for the season ("That's my goal every year," he said) but he didn't mind a bit. He rather relished it because it meant the Wildcats were comfortably ahead.

"I don't mind — I like watching the younger guys," said Espinal. "It's all about the team."

Espinal was watching because Whittier had roared to a 36-6 halftime lead and was scoring at will.

With the Wildcats' reserves taking over after halftime, Salem scored twice to narrow the gap to 36-20. But Whittier's starters came back to score one more time as the Wildcats finished with a 44-28 victory.

The triumph lifts the Wildcats to 5-5 and gives them the opportunity for a winning season if they can upset Greater Lawrence at home Nov. 27 on Thanksgiving eve.

"We're getting better all the time," said Whittier coach Kevin Bradley. "You always want to be at your best the second half of the season and that's where we are now."

Espinal led the way in the dominating first half, scoring three touchdowns and gaining 76 yards on just six carries. He finished the game with 90 yards, giving him 907 for the season.

But Espinal was hardly the only prolific back in that first half. Joe Iannalfo rushed for 41 yards on five carries, Dylan Fraize had 46 yards and a touchdown on two carries and sophomore QB Niko Burke rushed for 23 yards on five carries.

Running behind an improved offensive line led by the likes of Ethan Burridge and Aidan Bull, Whittier rushed for 204 yards in the first two quarters.The Wildcats scored on their first four possessions and five of six.

Whittier's defense, meanwhile, was just as dominating, holding Salem (2-8) to 48 yards rushing and no passing yards, picking off quarterback Jeffrey Holloway three times in five attempts. The Witches' lone score in the first half was on a 30-yard fumble return.

One of the top defenders was junior Jeremias Collazo. In addition to several tackles, he had two interceptions in the first half, the second of which he returned 42 yards to the Salem 5-yard-line. For his efforts, perhaps, he was given the ball on the next two plays, scoring from three yards out for Whittier's fourth touchdown.

Getting back to the offense, Burke didn't need to throw a pass all game but he did a masterful job running the offense and, when he returned to the game in the fourth quarter, scored on an 18-yard run. He finished the game with 52 yards rushing on eight attempts.

To its credit, Salem played better in the second half behind quarterback Michael Ready, who replaced Holloway and was 5 for 7 through the air for 99 yards.His chief target was Devin Tolbert, who caught four passes, including on a 78-yard play.

Tolbert, who was also active on defense, had an exceptional game. He scored the first Salem TD on the fumble return and, following the pass play score, returned a kickoff 78 yards for another touchdown.


Game Statistics:

First Quarter

W — AJ Espinal 3 run (run failed), 8:34

W — Espinal 24 run (Joe Iannalfo run), 4:43

Second Quarter

W — Dylan Fraize 7 run (Iannalfo run), 10:12

W — Jeremias Collozo 3 run (pass failed), 6:12

S — Devin Tolbert 30 fumble return (run failed), 3:00

W — Espinal 5 run (Luke Iamele run), 1:41

Third Quarter

S — Connor McRae 5 run (Devin Tolbert pass from Michael Ready), 1:47

Fourth Quarter

S — Tolbert 78 pass from Ready (run failed), 11:20

W — Niko Burke 18 run (Jack Lemanier recovers fumble), 6:23

S — Tolbert 78 kickoff return (McRae run), 6:14



RUSHING: Whittier (41-285) — Logan Raymond 1-(-3), Julian Acevedo-Torres 2-8, Nolan Mann 2-9, Bryant Eno 3-11, AJ Espinal 10-90, Niko Burke 8-52, Joe Iannalfo 8-59, Luke Iamele 1-2, Jeremias Collazo 2-5, Zach Ribiero 2-6, Dylan Fraize 2-46; Salem (24-55) — Michael Ready 4-(-18), Jeffrey Holloway 8-14, Connor McRae 9-57, Gabe Sanchez 1-4, Devin Tolbert 1-3, Jariel DelValle 1-(-5)

PASSING: Whittier — Niko Burke 0-0-0, 0; Salem — Jeffrey Holloway 0-5-3, 0; Michael ready 5-5-1, 99

RECEIVING: Salem — Tolbert 4-95, DelValle 1-4

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