Methuen Rangers Football '21

Fri, Nov 12, 2021 07:00 PM @ Franklin
Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Methuen 7 0 0 0 7
Franklin 7 7 7 3 24

A week after legendary win, Methuen falls to top-seeded Franklin in Division 1 quarters

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Saturday, November, 13 By David Willis
Staff writer

FRANKLIN — In the hunt for a second straight state tournament upset, and a trip to the Division 1 semifinals, Methuen came on flying Friday night.

On his first pass of the game, Rangers quarterback Drew Eason found a wide-open Will McKinnon for a 48-yard gain, setting up a 5-yard touchdown run by JP Muniz and a 7-0 lead 5:11 into play.

That, however, was when the magic ran out for Methuen.

The No. 8 Rangers struggled to move the ball from there, and top-seeded Franklin pulled away in the second half for a 24-7 victory in the MIAA Division 1 Round of 8 (quarterfinals) on Friday night.

"Franklin (9-0) was the No. 1 seed for a reason," said Methuen (7-3) head coach Tom Ryan. "They were very big, very fast and presented a lot of matchup problems for us. We didn't play particularly well at the line of scrimmage. And there were a few balls that we usually come down with that we didn't today, a finger tip here or a finger tip there, and they caught the big ones. They played better than us tonight"

The loss came a week after Methuen upset powerhouse Everett 25-22 in the Division 1 round of 16. Ryan made sure positivity during his message to the team on Friday.

"Methuen football is here to stay," said Ryan. "We have a good program with good athletes. Last week's Everett win is going to go down as one of the best in program history. That win was about as epic as it gets. Now we have a taste of the big time, and we want this to continue."

After a 1.5-hour bus ride to Franklin — one of the latest teams to travel long distances in the MIAA's new playoff format without sectionals — Methuen started off fast. The Rangers drove 76 yards on the game's opening drive, and Muniz made it 7-0.

"They got us on that first drive," said Franklin head coach Eian Bain. "Coach Ryan and the Methuen coaching staff know how to get their best players the ball in the right situation. You might call their offense a spread, but a lot of the principals are very wing-T, with their shifts, motions and formations. Everything sets up the next thing. They almost got us a couple more times, but we were able to put enough pressure on to slow them down."

Methuen was forced to punt on its next two possessions, and Franklin answered with a pair of scores to make it 14-7. The Rangers then drove to the Panthers' 30-yard line, but a pair of sacks stalled the drive in the final seconds of the first half.

After Franklin scored on the first possession of the second half to make it 21-7, the Rangers nearly cut into the advantage. Eason hit Braedan Carter for a 23-yard gain and Jason Silverio for a 13-yard gain to the Panthers' 25-yard line. But Franklin came through with two more sacks to end that drive.

Methuen managed one final spark with 6:50 left in the fourth quarter, when Alex Borrelli caused a fumble that was recovered by Muniz. But the Rangers could not take advantage, and Franklin ran out the clock from there.

The Rangers will now focus on practice this week, preparing for their traditional Thanksgiving Day clash with Dracut.

"We're going to refocus and respect our Thanksgiving rivalry," said Ryan. "The kids have to look at themselves and realize this was an epic year for Methuen football, and they're going to go down as one of the all-time great teams in Methuen history. It hurts now, but they're going to look back and realize they have done the city of Methuen very proud."

Game Statistics:

Division 1 State Quarterfinals
First Quarter

M — JP Muniz 5 run (Omar Aboutoui kick), 6:49

F — Mack Gulla 4 run (Garrett Portesi kick), 2:21 

Second Quarter

F — Will Tracey 23 pass from Jared Arone (Portesi kick), 8:22

Third Quarter

F — Gulla 23 run (Gulla kick), 9:57

Fourth Quarter

F — Gulla 22 field goal, 7:49 


RUSHING: Methuen (23-34) — JP Muniz 10-32, Shane Eason 1-7, Xander Silva 2-6, Drew Eason 10-(-11); Franklin (28-141) — Mack Gulla 19-118, Mike Davide 7-17, Jase Lyons 1-6, Jared Arone 1-0  

PASSING: Methuen — Drew Eason 11-21-0, 127; Franklin — Arone 8-15-0, 128

RECEIVING: Methuen — Will McKinnon 1-48, Braedan Carter 3-37, Jason Silverio 3-27, Muniz 3-12, Anesti Touma 1-3; Franklin — Will Tracey 5-75, Luke Davis 2-37, Shane Kindred 1-16

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