The Tanners take on an 0-4 Classical team at Manning Bowl at 7pm continuing to seek their own identity. Beyond that it is starting to look like they'll need to win out their final three to make a return to the playoffs. No easy task for a roster that certainly has the talent, as shown by their spurts of success, but continue to face difficulty gelling as a team to make plays.
Against Marblehead it looked like a corner was turning for them three times. Their best drive of the year; a 14-play, 82-yard masterpiece, put them up 7-0 and established their control on the game.
Featuring the best of Doug Santos, Peabody hit the wide open holes but simple mistakes began to add up. Out of nowhere Marblehead was pulling the rug out from under the Tanners; scoring on two quick drives full off missed opportunities for stops.
Down 14-7, another table-turning moment occurred when Ugonna Okananwa grabbed the ball off the kickoff and flew to the 50. One play later Matt D’Amato hit John Villani across the middle, who had the ball pop off his hands into a defender’s. Marblehead took another 7 points with ease and in just a few minutes they were up 20-7 on Peabody after trailing.
The third moment began with Hunter Josselyn laying down a perfectly executed onside kick he jumped on top of to start the third. Santos then had to use all his power on 4th and goal, after a few penalties pushed them further up to the goal line, to travel four yards for the touchdown.
Doug Santos, Ugonna Okananwa, and Hunter Josselyn made the plays that defined the 2014 Peabody Tanners who they were a part of. But as in all three of their losses so far in 2015, the team unraveled in the aftermath of these spurts.
Drawing within six points, like clockwork they unfolded on defense against the pistol offense of Marblehead and handed balls back to them in seconds with three and outs. Like a flash of lightning Peabody trailed 34-14 with time expiring.
Coach Bettencourt couldn’t state the issue any more bluntly than missed chances:
“They left the 3 and 4 hole open and we couldn't take advantage of it…missed blocks, missed assignments. Stuff thats been going on with us all year that we need to clean up. I saw nothing to make me believe that if we executed our blocks we couldn't have run downfield all day.”
“It’s the story of our season right now. We can’t make big plays. We don’t make big plays.”
The loss hurt in more ways than one with the three primary playmakers from that game coming away hobbled. Santos exited with a sprained MCL, Okananwa suffered a painful stinger on defense, and Josselyn experienced head pain.
Santos returned to practice in the middle of the week stating he was feeling much better. He didn’t elaborate too much but stated he expects to play tonight, though he may be limited.
Okananwa is out after spending most of this last week in a sling. He expects to see his doctor this weekend and begin work towards playing next Friday against Lynn English.
With Doug likely playing through an injury and his main complementary back on the shelf, it will be interesting to see how Bettencourt fills the backfield when needed.
Josselyn is doubtful with head pain, something that always needs to be taken seriously especially with his concussion history.