.By Joe Cardello The Essex Reporter
The Essex 2014 homecoming celebration began as the brightly colored floats, created by EHS students, travelled down route 15 through Essex on Oct. 10. Following the festivities and fireworks was the Hornets’ homecoming football game against the BHS Seahorses. Essex held the edge for the entirety of the game and pulled off a 49-20 win against the Burlington team.
It only took a minute and a half for the Hornet Brendan Gleason to plant his feet in the Seahorses’ end zone. On a first-and-ten play on Essex’s own 36-yard line Gleason was handed the ball and careened through the Burlington defense. With the smell of sulfur and firework smoke still lingering Gleason began the Essex scoring on the 64-yard run.
The Seahorses were not discouraged and Burlington’s Mohamed Noor returned the Essex kickoff to the opposite 25-yard line. On third and eight the ball was sloppily hiked to the Seahorse quarterback Jackson MacDonald who quickly scooped up the loose ball and connected on a pass to Connor Plante for a BHS touchdown at 9:32. Rather than attempt a field goal the Seahorses decided to go for a two-point conversation. MacDonald attempted to run the ball into the end zone but was stonewalled by the Essex defense. The score stood at 7-6, Essex led by one.
Hornet Abraham Koval received the kickoff and brought the ball to the EHS 34-yard line. Essex did not waste anytime before scoring their second touchdown of the game. On first and ten a fake handoff left the Burlington defense scrambling and Cody Greene open downfield for a pass. With unmatched speed Greene sped through the defense. Essex took a 14-6 lead with 9:12 left in the first quarter as Jeremy LeClair kicked his second field goal of the night.
On the Seahorses’ next drive they brought the ball to the 11-yard line and called for a timeout. When play resumed and the ball was snapped Essex’s Colby Trudeau sacked the Burlington quarterback for a 4-yard loss. The next BHS play – second and 15 – was an incomplete pass to Calvin Bratcher followed by an overthrown pass as defensive lineman Alex Russell rushed the quarterback. The final play of their drive was on fourth and 15 with a pass to Connor Plante in the end zone and as he came down with the ball he landed just out-of-bounds.
The Hornets next drive lasted just over 2:00 and was put to an end when Joseph Robertson was stopped short on an attempted run on fourth and two. BHS held possession until 3:20 until Hornet Peter Barrows snatched the ball out of the air for an interception putting Essex 29 yards out from the end zone. After a strong offensive push Andrew Lounsbury rushed in on first and one for the third Essex touchdown.
The Seahorses regained possession with 1:49 remaining in the first quarter and were forced to punt on their fourth play of the drive. The Hornets received the punt and began their drive on the 24-yard line. On a 44-yard run Essex’s Elliot Boutin brought the Essex lead up to 28-6 with only half a minute remaining in the first quarter.
BHS retained possession heading into the second quarter but were quickly forced to punt at 10:37. Gleason carried the ball from the 30-yard line to the opposite 39-yard line on two run plays and Boutin ran the ball an extra seven yards on the third. On second and three Essex quarterback Elias DiGrande threw a short pass to Gleason who juked his way past a Seahorse defender and made his way into the end zone. The Hornets led BHS 35-6.
On the kick return Burlington’s Tobias Williams made a screaming run to the Essex 42-yard line. The Seahorses began to inch their way towards to end zone with the Hornet defense relentlessly pushing back. Lounsbury and Barrows both made clean tackles to stop BHS runs. The pressure didn’t stop the Burlington team from picking up first downs. With 6:26 in the second quarter Noor caught a pass from MacDonald and ran into the end zone to tighten the score at 35-12. Again the Seahorses attempted a 2-point conversion but Barrows was able to intercept the pass and deny the extra points.
Essex received the kickoff was forced to punt after a five play drive. With less than three minutes remaining before halftime the Seahorses pressed onward downfield. They slowly made their way to the Essex 47-yard line after five plays but were held up by Lounsbury. After a timeout at 1:42 BHS attempted a pass that was picked off by Brendan Gleason who swiftly dodged a tackle, shifted and dodged another and broke free for a defensive touchdown after eluding even more defenders. With this – his ninth career interception – Brendan Gleason tied the EHS career interception record set by Joe Galdi during the 1999-2000 season. He is now only two away from tying the single season interception record of eight – set by Don Costante in 1987.
Essex’s Brendan Gleason received the kickoff at the beginning of the third quarter and after a 14-play drive the Hornets attempted to tack on three points with a field goal from 10 yards on fourth down. A BHS player was called offside and the ball was pushed to the 5-yard line. Again the Hornets attempted a field goal but it was blocked. The ball bounced around and remained in play when Seahorse Christian Mouvay snatched it up and bolted down field for a 95-yard touchdown run at 5:01. BHS readied for a two-point conversion and Essex scrambled to adjust their special teams, but couldn’t recover in time as the Seahorses completed the play putting the score at 42-20.
On a 10-play drive the Hornets looked to score once more as the clock crept past the one-minute mark. On second and one Gleason punched the ball in on a run after a fake handoff to Robertson left the Burlington defense dazed. The Hornets now led the scoring 49-20 with 0:22.6 remaining in the third quarter.
The scoring came to a screeching halt during the fourth quarter as both teams made terrific defensive stops. With 6:00 remaining Burlington turned to Williams to gain some extra yardage. He exuded a positive attitude as he pushed through the Essex defense and hooted and hollered each time he picked up yards. After picking up a first down for the Seahorses Williams ran the ball yet again and was lifted up by an Essex defender but still gained four yards. The Burlington team held possession until 2:36 when Hornet James Emery picked off a pass and was brought down on the BHS 42-yard line. Essex pushed the ball up to the 15-yard line on their final drive and took a knee to end the game with a 49-20 win. The win was bittersweet as head coach Charlie Burnett explained.
“It was a great spirit week here at the school. There was a lot of school spirit and lots of pride. Adding senior night to it is tough because you’re wrapping up a couple of really important moments in a kid’s life. But that is what our schedule had. I’m just happy for the kids and especially the seniors with the win.”
After defeating Burlington at home the Hornets will be going to SBHS to face the Rebels this Friday, Oct. 17 for the last game of the regular season.
“It’s rivalry week, a 40-some-odd-year tradition. This is a big game and it’s going to take all of our efforts to get practiced up and ready because they may be struggling in the win the column but they’re plenty a good football team. So we’re going to head over to Munson field and see if we can bring the show there.”