No. 20 Methuen takes it to Malden

METHUEN, Mass. — Cal Carroll couldn’t help but smile after beating Malden in the Rangers’ home-opener. Methuen’s senior co-captain and quarterback was behind the steering wheel of an offense that drove up and down the field on the Golden Tornados like a high-performance sports car.

Carroll (11-15, 146 yards) had six touchdowns— one rushing and five through the air — to lead the No. 20 Rangers over Malden, 42-12.

“We knew we could be a team that was in fifth gear instead of third gear like we’ve been,” said Carroll, whose team was upset last week by Plymouth North. “We felt really disgusted with ourselves after last week, but we had three hard days of practice and that led to this.”

Coming out of halftime with a 14-12 lead, Methuen (1-1) really got on the gas. With its first possession out of the locker room, Carroll broke through multiple would-be Malden tacklers for a 23-yard touchdown scamper to cap a two and a half minute, 70-yard drive.

Less than a minute later, after Methuen recovered the ball on a strip sack by senior Matt Delmonte, Carroll hooked up with his favorite target Raudy Minaya for a wide open 30-yard touchdown strike. With the score 28-12 with 7:29 left in the third quarter, Methuen effectively had the Golden Tornados (1-1) in their rearview.

Minaya (five receptions, 72 yards) is a strong 6-foot-2 receiver with good leaping ability and he often sees double coverage. But not on Friday. He made the most of it, hauling in three touchdowns.

“If I’m double covered, I know my teammates can make some plays,” said Minaya. “But if I’m single covered, I want the ball.”

Carroll also threw touchdown passes to seniors James Staples in the second quarter and Kevin Higgins in the fourth, but Methuen ran a balanced attack. Junior running back Ryan Savastano, amassed 100 yards on 19 carries while Carroll finished with 94 yards on the ground.

“We got a real good push up front,” said Rangers coach Patrick Graham. “I think we wore them down a little bit. They have a lot of guys who play both ways and we really don’t have guys who do that so I think that helped us.”

Malden suffered injuries to Jamie McInerney (ACL) and Chris Miller (ACL) in the preseason and now employs players like linemen Aaron Samano and Vernon Sanvil on both sides of the ball.

Another all-around player for Malden, Jo Jo Randolph (nine carries, 58 yards; one catch 28 yards), rushed for Malden’s first touchdown of the night on a 16-yard sweep in the first quarter, but he was then forced from the game in the second half with a broken forearm.

“We have some injuries right now that are making us play guys a lot,” said Malden coach Joe Pappagallo. “It’s fatiguing them mentally and physically. But, ultimately, we lost this game because [Methuen] was more physical at the point of attack and they just plain out-played us.”

Malden did get a touchdown from its playmaker, Frankie Dunn (six catches, 35 yards; five rushes, 24 yards) mid-way through the second quarter, but it was the Golden Tornados’ last burst of offense.

Methuen dominated after Carroll’s touchdown to Staples at the end of the first half. The Rangers scored touchdowns on each of their second-half possessions, except for their final possession when backups were called on to run out the clock in the fourth quarter.

“It’s nice to come back after last week,” said Graham. “We obviously didn’t play our best football last week. We knew we had things to improve on as a team. We talked a lot about how important it is to get off to a good start to the season, and 0-2 wouldn’t have been a good start.”

Other observations:

  • Carroll credited his experienced offensive line with giving him enough time to throw for five scores. “We have some of the toughest lineman around,” he said. “Steve DiZazzo, Sean Whittaker, they do all the dirty work inside. They watch so much film and work so hard, my success is because of what they can do.

  • Carroll to Minaya seems to be a connection for all seasons. The two play as forwards for Methuen’s basketball team in the winter. “We know how to hook up on the court, too,” said Carroll, laughing. “He’s one of our best scorers…He’s so athletic he can make plays whenever he wants to.”

  • Malden’s Kenny Mettelus was tackled hard in the fourth quarter and remained on the ground for several minutes before coming off the field on the stretcher. The injury wasn’t as serious as it appeared, according to Pappagallo, who said Mattelus suffered a lower-back contusion. He was taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure. “I’ve never had so many gosh darned severe injuries,” said Pappagallo. “But what can you do? You have to keep plugging, you know?”