MARSHFIELD, Mass. – There is a new sheriff in the Atlantic Coast League – for now.
No. 23 Plymouth North opened up its league schedule and defeated the reigning ACL and Division 2A Super Bowl Champion Marshfield, 15-0, in front of the Rams' homecoming crowd at James G. Anderson Field. The Eagles (4-2; 1-0) huge road win sets up a barnburner between idle No. 7 Falmouth for bragging rights and the top spot between the two league unbeatens.
After the Blue Eagles were bottled up on their first two series, Zach Zaniboni broke off a 50-yard touchdown scamper from midfield to get Plymouth North on the board with the eventual game-winning touchdown.
“I just saw a huge hole off the right side and was able to take it home”, said the senior tailback. “It's huge to beat them on their home field as well – big win”
Cody Merritt, last week's star in their non league win over Bridgewater-Raynham, called his own number on the next series capping off a quick five-play drive with an 11-yard keeper on a sweep to the left. Merritt faked the pitch to Bobby Savoia and followed the lead block of Matt Walsh into the end zone untouched.
While holding the snap for the extra point, Merritt pulled up and rolled left to find Liam Cosgrove right before being buried out of bounds for the two-point conversion and the 15-0 lead with 2:33 left in the second quarter.
The Eagles defense surely did their part limiting Marshfield to 23 total yards of offense in the entire first half for the first shutout of the season for Plymouth North. In fact, the win is the first in 22 seasons at Marshfield for the Plymouth North program and Dwayne Follette downplayed the win knowing the tough road in front of his team.
“It was all about our defense, we had a great game plan, the kids played really hard, and did a great job because shutting out a Marshfield team is pretty special," Follette said. “Next week we have an undefeated Falmouth team so we have to put this one to bed real quick”.
Marshfield (2-4) was able to get into Eagles territory on all four second half possessions but were shut down three times on fourth-down conversions. The first series of the second half was led by the passing of Marc Pomella, who was 4-of-7 on the drive but the Rams came up short at the Eagles' 11-yard line on a fourth-and-eighth attempt that lost yardage.
Plymouth North finished with 201 yards rushing on the ground led by Zaniboni's 81 yards on only six carries and Merritt finished with 79 on 11 carries.
“Zaniboni had a great game, played well on both sides of the ball, and was easily the MVP of the game, but this is only one league game – we have four more left and that starts with Falmouth”, Follette added.
PLYMOUTH NORTH 0 – 15 – 0 – 0 -- 15
MARSHFIELD 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 -- 0
PN – Zach Zaniboni 50 run (Vinny Tavernelli kick)
PN – Cody Merritt 11 run (Liam Cosgrove pass from Merritt)