By Greg Phipps
In what was being billed as the most competitive matchup between Peabody and Saugus in several years, last Thursday’s annual Thanksgiving Day battle turned out to be a lot more one-sided than anticipated.
Leading 10-0 at halftime, Peabody would add 28 more points on its way to an eventual 38-6 rout in the unseasonably frigid cold at Veterans Memorial Stadium, where the windchill factor had temperatures hovering in the single digits.
Saugus managed to tally on its last possession to avoid the shutout. Prior to that, the Sachems had been held to just 40 total yards – never making it into Peabody territory – and were shut down offensively, suffering several three-and-outs in the process. The victory gave the Tanners a 5-6 finish for 2018 while Saugus concluded its season at 4-7.
Peabody head coach Mark Bettencourt said it was a complete team effort from his squad. “I’m proud of the way the defense stood up today,” he told the press after the game. “I have to give our [offensive] line credit [as well]. We have four seniors up there, and they all played a great game.”
On the other side, the mood was not as bright. “I’m not happy about today,” a disappointed Saugus head coach Mike Mabee told the press. “Peabody manhandled us. They really took it to us. I thought we played OK early in the game. But after they got up on us, we didn’t play very well.”
Peabody’s sophomore quarterback Alex DeNisco, who was filling in for injured Matt Jandrisevits, connected on 14 of 17 passes and threw for 166 yards and two touchdowns. He was intercepted once – one of the very few highlights for Saugus.
Jared Ridley caught a TD pass of 31 yards in the second quarter. That score was followed by a two-point conversion run by Luis Guridys that made it 8-0 Tanners. A safety later gave Peabody its 10-0 lead at the half. A 38-yard scoring strike from DeNisco to Brandon Caniff then gave the hosts an 18-0 advantage following the two-point conversion. The Tanners tacked on more with a three-yard Colby Therrien TD run for a 24-0 lead.
The onslaught continued when Kyle Maglione scored on a punt return, and Jake Sousa, who was returning from an injury, later accounted for the final Peabody points with a one-yard scoring rush. Kicker Austin Leggett made good on his final two PAT attempts.
The lone shining moment for the visitors came on the game’s very last play, when Trini Altschul collected a pass from QB Mason Nickolas and raced 76 yards for the Sachems’ only points. All told, Saugus totaled 116 yards of offense (76 of those on the final play). Nickolas hit on seven passes for 81 yards, Dante McGrane had a 39-yard run and Christian Correia gained 15 on another carry.
The Tanners managed 73 yards on the ground, led by Colten Cole and Angel Paulino combining for 54. With the win, Peabody has won the last five Thanksgiving Day games and owns a 45-28 lead in the series, which was in its 73rd season.