PLYMOUTH, Mass. – Silver Lake came rolling into Plymouth with wins against Coyle-Cassidy and New Bedford to start the season. In those wins, the Lakers had put on offensive shows, led by quarterback Mitch Graziano and his cache of weapons.
In Friday night’s tilt with Plymouth North, the Lakers offense did nothing to resemble the robust machinery they displayed in the first two games.
Instead, the Eagles dominated the Lakers’ attack.
Silver Lake didn’t earn a first down until six minutes remained. The Lakers’ offensive numbers weren’t pretty either. Through the first half, Silver Lake had more than double the penalty yardage (35 yards) as it did combined offensive yards (14).
The sum was a 23-6 Plymouth North victory in a dense fog.
“The whole defense was phenomenal,” Eagles head coach Dwayne Follette said. “I thought it was a great team effort against a quality opponent.”
Follette credited defensive assistants Carl Freyermuth and Joe DeSisto for drawing up an effective defensive scheme.
There were plenty of kudos to hand out across the defense. Senior linebacker Adam Cuomo drew the task of covering Lakers 6-foot-4, 215-pound tight end Gavin Doherty in man coverage, with no help over the top. Doherty, usually a frequent target of Graziano’s passes, was held without a catch.
But it all started up front for the Eagles (2-1).
Defensive lineman John Dee contributed a sack of Graziano on the Lakers’ first offensive drive on third down, forcing a three-and-out and setting the tone for the rest of the game. Defensive end Mike Cahill also added a sack in the second half.
“The difference was what they did up front,” Lakers head coach Dana Battista said. “They dominated the offensive line and they were more physical than we were.”
Plymouth North divvied up the offense in its backfield. Junior running back Bobby Savoia contributed what quarterback Cody Merritt called “a break-out game” with seven carries for 89 yards and two touchdowns.
“Bobby [Savoia] stepped up huge,” Merritt said. “He just keeps getting better and better as the weeks have gone on and he really came through tonight.”
Merritt led the Eagles’ rushing attack with 15 carries for 98 yards. Zach Zaniboni tallied 46 yards on the ground on five carries, including a 3-yard touchdown run in the first quarter that accounted for Plymouth North’s 7-0 halftime lead.
The Eagles easily could have been 3-0 now — had it not been for a fumble on a two-point conversion play during last week’s 16-12 loss to Duxbury. But the effort in a rather convincing win over Silver Lake (2-1) wasn’t lost on their coach — at least for a little while.
“I thought our offensive execution was good overall,” Follette said, “and we really played well defensively. But we have a very tough schedule and, like last week, we’ll have to put this one behind us, too. There are no let-downs.”