WALTHAM – One play pretty much summed up the game between the Waltham High and Melrose football teams Friday night at Leary Field.
It was midway through the fourth quarter with Melrose comfortably in control at 28-7. The Hawks had hung gamely throughout the second half, despite facing the three-touchdown deficit at the break, but had not been able to move the ball consistently against the tough Melrose defense.
It was then that Melrose looked to decide things once and for all as quarterback Charlie Stanton drifted back to pass on first down at the Waltham 45. He fired to the sideline where the Hawks had double coverage on receiver Michael Fennell. The two Hawk defenders converged on the ball in front of the receiver and it popped up into the air – right into Fennell’s arms at the 2-yard line.
One play later, Rey Guity slammed in the short score for a 35-7 lead on Melrose’s way to a 42-7 victory.
Melrose improved to 2-0 with its second straight victory against a potential playoff opponent after it also beat Masconomet in last week’s opener, while Waltham falls to 1-1 heading into next Friday’s Dual County League opener against Lincoln-Sudbury.
“It was a warm night,” Melrose coach Tim Morris said. “We got some breaks early on. We made some big plays early on. That’s both good and bad because sometimes inexperienced teams think when that happens that it’s going to be easy.
“It’s not going to be easy. Waltham kept playing hard all night.”
Down 21-0 in the second quarter after an 87-yard Guity TD run, the Hawks battled to get back in the game as quarterback Nick Caliri hit Evan Clark for a 15-yard gain to the Melrose 25, and Caliri followed up a 7-yard run from Derek Williams with an 18-yard scoring strike to Anthony Davis.
But any building Waltham momentum was quickly squashed as Isaac Seide took the ball 54 yards to the Waltham 10 – with Waltham’s Kyle Torres chasing from behind to briefly save the TD – before Seide scored a 9-yard TD two plays later to make it 28-7 at the half.
The Hawks moved the ball into Melrose territory in the final minute of the half before a fumbled snap thwarted that drive. The teams then traded short possessions in the third quarter and beginning of the fourth before Melrose put the game away on Fennell’s sideline catch and Guity’s second score of the game.
“You’ve just got to keep doing the right thing and be patient,” Morris said. “Then we’ve got some guys who are explosive.”
Melrose jumped on top on its first possession when Seide raced 29 yards for the first of his two TDs on the day. After a Waltham three-and-out, Melrose went 53 yards on eight plays with Kennell hauling in an 18-yard TD catch on fourth-and-goal.
The Hawks seemed to gain the edge in the field-position battle when they pinned Melrose at its 12 to start a drive early in the second quarter. But Guity blasted through the line and charged 87 yards for the 21-0 lead with 8:12 left in the half.
Guity also came up with an interception late that lead to Michael Koytikh’s final second in the fourth quarter.
Melrose next faces Watertown in its first Middlesex League game of the season.
“Always tough,” Morris said of the Raiders, who opened the season with a 50-28 victory against Arlington Catholic. “They are always tough defensively. Offensively, if they are putting up 50 (they are offensively as well). Last year they were an option team. If they are putting up 50 running the triple option, that’s pretty good.”
Scott Souza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.