By Greg Phipps
The Peabody Tanners were shooting for a second consecutive winning campaign. But a tough 28-24 loss to Woburn last Friday night in the rain at Veterans Memorial Stadium assured that an above-.500 result would not be the case this fall.
Trailing 21-14 in the third quarter, Colby Therrien scored on a one-yard run followed by a successful PAT kick that tied the game. The Tanners then went ahead when kicker Austin Leggett drilled a 37-yard field goal early in the fourth to put Peabody ahead, 24-21.
Woburn responded by producing a lengthy, time-consuming drive that culminated in a short TD run, a subsequent point-after kick and a 28-24 lead. From there, the Tanners were unable to answer back and fell to 4-6 on the season with just their annual Thanksgiving clash against Saugus left to play.
A 79-yard fumble return for a touchdown and a 61-yard scoring run, both by Luis Guridys, accounted for Peabody’s first-half points. The Tanners held a 14-13 lead at the intermission before Woburn scored early in the third to pull ahead 21-14.
“We had our opportunities but couldn’t find that big play when we needed it,” Peabody head coach Mark Bettencourt told the press afterward, adding that the Woburn quarterback was given too much time to throw: “We lost the game because we put no pressure on their quarterback. We couldn’t flush him out, and that gave him time to read our defense and find open receivers. Their offense had a lot of diversity and ran some things we had not seen before … that also hurt us.”
The Tanners now move on to host Saugus in the 73rd Thanksgiving Day contest between the two foes next Thursday at 10 a.m. This is shaping up as one of the more intriguing matchups in several years. Both teams hold 4-6 records and qualified as a sixth seed in the Div. North state playoffs.
The Tanners lost in the Div. 2 North first round to Reading while Saugus upset Weston in the Div. 5 North opening round and gave Amesbury a formidable second-round battle before succumbing, 20-0, when the Indians scored 20 fourth-quarter points to escape victorious.
Peabody has won the last four Turkey Day games and owns a 44-28 series advantage over the Sachems, who last won in 2013 when they defeated Peabody, 25-14, at Stackpole Field.
“This is not the same Saugus team we have beaten these last four years. [They are] the real deal this year, and considering all that program has gone through, they are having a great season,” said Bettencourt. “I expect we will need to play our best to come out on top. We need to finish the season strong, as we have worked hard all year, so it’s important to come out with our best.”
Peabody was a 33-7 winner in last year’s game, a victory that helped them climb above the .500 mark for 2017 with a 6-5 record. The Sachems, who finished 4-7 last season, have had to overcome what started out as a turbulent 2018 season when head coach Anthony Nalen was suspended before the season opener and eventually terminated from his position. Former middle school coach Mike Mabee has performed the head coaching duties this season.