Peabody shines in second half to knock off Classical

Eli Batista, shown here returning a punt, caught three touchdowns passes from Luke Maglione in the Tanners' 31-14 win over Lynn Classical. (Anne Marie Tobin)

PEABODY — The Peabody football team (2-0) stepped up in the second half, scoring 24 unanswered points in the last 10 minutes to beat visiting Lynn Classical (1-1) 31-14 Friday night at Coley Lee Field.

If the Rams had any hopes of picking up a win, they were dashed by Eli Batista, who scored two touchdowns of 36 (pass from Luke Maglione) and 35 yards (rush) late in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach. The speedy receiver finished with three touchdowns.

A 37-yard field goal from Peabody’s Dom Scalese with about nine minutes left in the fourth quarter gave the Tanners their first lead of the game. Better yet, the field goal set a new kicking record for the Tanners (108 points) and was set up by a fumble recovery at the Classical 23-yard line by Anthony Silva. 

Classical took an 8-0 lead late in the first half. On a fourth-and-goal at Classical’s 49-yard line, Scalese boomed a 40-yard punt. John Nasky turned on the jets down the left sideline, shedding tacklers all the way to the Tanners’ 28. Brian Vaughan Jr. fired a strike to R.J. Faessler, who sliced and diced his way to a 19-yard pickup, giving the Rams a first-and-goal from the 9. 

An incompletion set up a fourth-and goal. Coach Brian Vaughan took a timeout to assess his options.

Let’s just say the Rams made the right choice. Vaughan Jr. drilled it across the middle to Faessler, hitting him right in the numbers to put the Rams on top 6-0. Jayson Clayborn added the two-point conversion thanks to some great blocking that opened a huge hole. Clayborn walked in untouched.

Towards the beginning of the third quarter, Batista reversed direction on a punt and flew down the left side into the end zone, but the return was called back on an illegal block in the back, bringing the ball all the way back to the Peabody 47. 

That said, Maglione handed off to Alex Silva who sprinted 53 yards to the endzone, making it an 8-7 game after Scalese tacked on the extra point.

Classical responded on its next possession to take a 14-7 lead on a 9-yard keeper by quarterback Vaughan Jr.

Fast forward to the fourth quarter. Peabody tied the game 14-14 on a 22-yard touchdown completion from Maglione to Batista with 9:56 remaining.

Peabody’s next game is Friday at home against Northeastern Conference rival Beverly (7). Classical is back in action Friday against Greater Boston League rival Somerville at Dilboy Memorial Stadium (6).

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