HAVERHILL — Central Catholic’s mindset was simple heading into Haverhill Stadium Friday night.
“We were sick of losing!” said Raiders captain Presley Titus. “We wanted to turn this season around. We worked so hard to finally get this win, and it feels amazing. We worked so hard, and we finally did it.”
After a month of frustration, and plenty of talk surrounding it, Central Catholic left no doubt on Friday.
The Raiders exploded for three touchdowns in just nine plays to start the game, and allowed Haverhill just 102 yards on the night, cruising to a 35-0 victory over the Hillies for their first win of the season.
“It feels so good to get the win,” said Central QB and captain Jaxon Pereira. “We’ve been working so hard, so to see it pay off feels great. We were definitely getting frustrated, but we were still confident in our abilities. We knew we could get it done, and we know we can keep getting it done. We still have big goals.”
The loss snapped a four-game losing streak to start the season for Central (1-4), its longest since 2002.
“This is what we needed, to get the win,” said running back Mason Bachry. “We were praying for this win. Everyone wanted it so much. It was in our blood. We needed this dub (win), and we got it.”
Central wasted no time putting away Haverhill (1-4).
On the fourth play of the game, Pereira swung a pass out to Drew O’Keefe. The freshman running back seemed to be tackled for a short gain, but squirted out of the pile and took it the rest of the way for a 50-yard touchdown.
After forcing a 3-and-out, Raider Drew Alsup fielded a punt, shook off a tackler, squeezed through two defenders and broke free for a 76-yard touchdown return.
Following another quick defensive stop, Bachry took a pitch left, sprinted around the corner and took off for a 60-yard gain. He was caught, but three plays later he went into the end zone with a 1-yard touchdown plunge.
Bachry — a Haverhill native — needed just six carries to rush for 101 yards and two touchdowns, before exiting the game with the rest of the starters.
“We hadn’t had an early lead yet this season,” said Titus. “It felt so good to get ahead. It gave our offense confidence, and our defense confidence. Everything was working well. We have some amazing backs in the backfield — Mason, Armari (Mills), Drew Keefe, Jaxon running and throwing. We have so many great players, and it was an overall dominant performance by the offense.”
Bachry added another score, a 2-yard run, to start the second quarter, and Pereira threw his second touchdown on the night, a 15-yard strike to Mills. The starters then turned it over to the backups with 4:02 still left in the first half.
“The early lead eased our minds and reminded us we could still be dominant,” said Pereira, who completed 6 of 10 passes for 101 yards and the two TDs. “Coach trusted me with a few things throwing the ball, and that felt good. and the running game was rolling so that made things easy for me.”
Central also delivered a dominant defensive effort, limiting Haverhill to one first down and just 46 yards of offense in the first half, 37 of that coming on a single completion from QB Alexander Gomes to Devin Carreiro.
Jomar Berrios and Cash Bistany each had an interception for the Raiders, while Kevin Acosta, Zach Rourke and Ethan Mitchell each registered a sack for the winners.
A bright spot for Haverhill was an acrobatic, one-handed interception by Carreiro.
“It feels good to get the win,” said Pereira. “But we blocked out all the negativity. We know how much hard work we put in, and how good of a team we are. Nothing ever fazed us.”
Central Catholic 35, Haverhill 0
Central Catholic (1-4): 21 14 0 0 — 35
Haverhill (1-4): 0 0 0 0 — 0
CC — Drew O’Keefe 50 pass from Jaxon Pereira (O’Keefe kick), 7:28
CC — Drew Alsup 76 punt return (O’Keefe kick), 7:28
CC — Mason Bachry 4 run (O’Keefe kick), 3:52
CC — Bachry 2 run (O’Keefe kick), 11:20
CC — Armari Mills 15 pass from Pereira (O’Keefe kick), 4:02
RUSHING: Central — Mason Bachry 6-101, Drew O’Keefe 4-31, Massumo Puddu 10-24, Armari Mills 3-10, Jefferson Morales 2-9, Luke Armano 2-5, Caden Smith 3-8, Jaxon Pereira 2-1, Breckin Greenler 4-(-6); Haverhill — Brandon Piraino 1-14, Parker DiNatale 2-5, Jhonaton Wallis 3-0, Nick Wilson 2-1, Alexander Gomes 5-1, Bryan Campbell 3-1, Devin Carreiro 1-(-2), Marc Gagne 1-(-8)
PASSING: Central — Pereira 6-10-1, 101, Caden Smith 0-1-0; Haverhill — Gomes 10-27-2, 90
RECEIVING: Central — O’Keefe 1-50, Connor Grella 2-22, Mills 1-15, Drew Alsup 1-9, Max Frediani 1-5; Haverhill — Carreiro 7-58, Tucker Grant 2-25, Sebastian Guillaume 1-7