WEST NEWBURY — Following in the tradition of nearly every Pentucket game this season, the opposing coach quickly made a point to rave about emerging Sachems star Cody Rothwell following the contest.
“Rothwell was just all over us,” said Lynnfield coach Neil Weidman. “Especially in the second half, he took away a lot of what we thought we could do on offense.”
Unfortunately for Pentucket, despite a yeoman effort by Rothwell on both sides of the ball, the Sachems fell short to the Pioneers 14-6 Saturday afternoon.
“I thought we were too sluggish in the first half,” said Pentucket coach Steve Hayden. “They were more on their game. We tightened up in the second half and played much better, but we need to finish.”
It was another big day for Rothwell. The senior running back carried 18 times for 101 yards — his fourth 100-yard rushing performance in the team’s last five games — and caught four passes for a career-best 95 yards, including the Sachems’ only touchdown of the day. That accounted for all but 34 yards the Sachems would gain on the day. He now has 668 yards rushing for the season.
He was even more impressive on defense. The safety made a team-high 14 tackles and frequently delivered massive hits that sent the sidelines and crowd into hysterics.
“Rothwell is just so fast and so strong,” said Weidman. “He is a very good running back, but he is even better on defense. Very impressive.”
With the Sachems trailing 14-0 late in the first half, Rothwell sparked the Sachems’ rally when he caught a pass from QB Ryan Kuchar and sprinted 45 yards for a touchdown with 53 seconds to go before halftime.
After allowing those two early scores, the Sachem defense tightened. Led by Rothwell, linebacker Tim Freiermuth (10 tackles, interception) and Connor McGuirk (eight tackles), Pentucket turned one drive away at its 35-yard line, then did not allow Lynnfield to advance past the 50-yard line after that.
“Freiermuth is a tough player too,” said Weidman. “If you don’t put a body on him, he will make every play at the line of scrimmage.”
But the Sachem offense could not take advantage. Their best chance to tie the game, a drive to the Pioneers’ 22-yard line, ended in an interception on fourth down.
“We need to do a better job in the red zone,” said Hayden. “The kids played hard, and we average about 170 on the line and they average 220. We played tough, but we just need to do a few things better.”