TOPSFIELD — As far as ironman football players in the Cape Ann League go, Pentucket's Nolan Dragon is the cream of the crop.
In last night's 23-7 victory over Masconomet (2-7), Dragon looked like a man among boys as the junior fullback/linebacker helped the Sachems offensively with 120 yards on 15 carries, including a touchdown (one yard) while anchoring the defense with 14 second-half tackles and over 20 on the game. At one point in the second half, Dragon had made nine consecutive tackles for Pentucket.
As if that performance alone wasn't enough to haunt the nightmares of Chieftain fans, Dragon also made the play of the game when he read a Ben Panunzio slant pass, picked off the ball and dashed 90 yards to pay dirt to put Pentucket on top 23-7 in the third quarter. The interception stopped a very promising Chieftain drive and all but sealed Masconomet's fate.
"The kids stepped up and did some things. Dragon had an awesome game defensively and offensively," said Pentucket coach Steve Hayden. "He has been playing well. It's good to get him back healthy."
Special teams also factored into the Sachems win, as a crew of green and white jerseys blocked a Masconomet punt and then Tim Freirmuth was able to pick up the rolling pigskin and take it 20 yards, untouched, into the end zone. The special teams score put Pentucket up 17-0 with just over four minutes left in the first half.
Masconomet scored in the final minute of the opening half when Panunzio drilled Kurt Hunziker on a perfectly designed wheel pass that went 25 yards for the touchdown. Other than that, the Sachems held Masco in check the rest of the way with good, hard-nosed tackling that prevented the Chieftains from breaking any long plays.
Pentucket moves to 7-2 and has now won five straight since falling 21-18 to Newburyport on Oct. 2. The Sachems will have their hands full next week, however, when they travel to face 8-1 North Andover to try to keep their CAL Large title hopes alive.
"We have come a ways (since the beginning of the season), and we still have a ways to go," Hayden said. "But we'll let them enjoy it for now."