BEVERLY — It might’ve looked relatively easy to those sitting in the stands at Hempstead Stadium Saturday afternoon, but it most certainly wasn’t.
A lot of work went into the Endicott College football team’s third straight Commonwealth Coast Conference title, and that didn’t end once they officially clinched the crown a week ago. The Gulls wanted to finish unbeaten in league play and did so with a thorough 41-14 pasting of visiting University of New England in their regular season finale on a breezy November afternoon.
“Some of my buddies and I were saying before the game it can be hard to appreciate moments like this in the moment,” said senior quarterback Clayton Marengi of Lynnfield, who threw three first half touchdown passes as the hosts shot out to a 27-0 lead. “It’s awesome looking around now after the game, where everyone is smiling and taking pictures. But it can be hard to appreciate things like this in the moment. I think we’ll appreciate it more down the road, when it’ll be gone.
“Still, it’s a great moment for us.”
Former Marblehead High standout Ryan Freiberger, who caught one of Marengi’s first half touchdown tosses off a play fake that went for 13 yards, echoed that same sentiment.
“We want to enjoy the moment for now, but we hope we still have a lot road ahead of us. We have to remain focused,” said the junior wideout.
Up next for the Gulls: a return trip to the Division 3 NCAA playoffs, a 32-team, single elimination tournament that will be announced Sunday at 5 p.m. Endicott is currently ranked 17th nationally and hopes to get a first round home game for the second straight season.
“We’ve had two goals all season: win the conference and win a playoff game. We’re halfway there,” said Marengi.
In this Senior Day triumph, Marengi was an extremely efficient 11-for-14 for 125 yards, connecting on scoring tosses of 58 yards to captain Shane Aylward, 13 to Freiberger and, just before the half, 9 yards to Adam Goodfellow. Marengi also ran for a team-high 68 yards on a dozen carries, scoring Endicott’s final touchdown on a 3-yard scamper early in the fourth quarter to make it 41-0.
Tailback A.J. Caggianelli, another senior captain, added 58 yards on the ground for Endicott on just seven carries and got into the end zone on a 29-yard burst in the first quarter.
Freshman running back Markys Bridgewater had the hosts’ other score, capping off the opening drive of the second half with a 13-yard power move.
Head coach Paul McGonagle praised his team’s line play, with starters Charlie Kulhay, Justyn Lester, Brendan Gill, Drew Gregor and Kyle Secone setting the tone physically early on.
“I think those guys had a chip on their shoulder this week,” said McGonagle. “It all starts up front, and those guys proved it today. Plus, they’re all New England guys, too.”
Defensively, Brian Daly forced a UNE fumble that was recovered by Gulls’ teammate Brett Morris to quell a drive. Matt Whelan had an interception, and Ismar Kandic, Daly and Morris each recorded QB sacks.
The visiting Nor’easters (6-4, 2-3 CCC) couldn’t get much going offensively for three quarters; most of their total yardage came in the fourth quarter, when they scored twice against the Endicott backups.