Pereira throws four TDs, Central toughs out win against gritty Haverhill

·4 min read

Oct. 23—HAVERHILL — A game that appeared to be a mismatch turned out to be one of Central Catholic football's toughest matchups of the 2021 season.

Reigning Eagle-Tribune offensive MVP Ayden Pereira threw four touchdowns and ran for two more scores, as the Raiders had to tough it out against a gritty Haverhill squad before finishing off a 40-19 win on Friday night at Trinity Stadium

"We have a lot we need to clean up," said Central running back/linebacker Matthias Latham, who caught a 90-yard touchdown pass the week after a 95-yard TD reception. "We didn't have the intensity we needed. The offense played well, but we have things we need to work on."

Pereira was brilliant again for the Raiders (7-1), completing 13 of 14 passes for 217 yards and the four scores.

The quarterback went to work right away on Friday. He threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Ty Cannistraro on Central's first drive, then added a 3-yard TD to Justice McGrail on the Raiders' second possession.

Haverhill (0-7) cut into that lead at the end of the first quarter when Victor Martinez broke a 25-yard touchdown run.

Pereira struck right back in the second, rushing for TDs of 2 and 54 yards ND then throwing a 25-yard TD to McGrail. Haverhill made it 33-13 at halftime on an 8-yard touchdown pass from QB Adrian Surrette hit Tristin Naylor just before the break.

The Hillies then utilized their tight double-wing, ball-control offense to limit Central to just eight offensive plays in the second half. But one of those was the 90-yard Pereira-to-Latham score.

"Latham is the best," said Pereira. "He was running a swing route and saw me scrambling so he turned it up field and made it easy for me. He's been playing so well for us all year."

Haverhill closed out the scoring with 1:06 left in the game, when Surrette and Naylor connected again, this time for a 25-yard score.

Despite the loss, Hillies head coach Tim O'Connor was very encouraged by with the way his squad stood toe-to-toe with the state title contenders.

"I thought we turned a corner today," said O'Connor. "We've been humbled this fall. Now, I think we've found the pieces to compete. I feel like we really battled tonight. We're not going to blow teams out, but we're going to take our pound of flesh and and keep building for the future. There's so much youth and potential out there it's amazing."

Hillies senior running back Martinez delivered a breakout performance, rushing for a career-high 149 yards on 19 carries. He had just 83 rushing yards on the season coming into the game. Joe Spero (54 yards) and Tristin Naylor (52 yards) also did damage on the ground.

"Victor has come a long way," said O'Connor "He was a little lost early on, and we were trying to find a place for him. Then we went to the double-wing and we saw his value. He's a north-and-south runner that has a knack for finding the hole. The double-wing gives us an identity. We're tough city kids, it's who we are."

Haverhill closes out the regular season at Billerica on Friday, while Central's final tune-up for the playoffs will be on at Barnstable Friday.

"We have one game before the playoffs so we will have to have better practices and clean up some mistakes," said Pereira. "But we're still feeling good. We're excited for the postseason."

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Central Catholic 40, Haverhill 19

Central Catholic (6-1): 13 20 7 0 — 40

Haverhill (0-7): 6 7 0 6 — 19

First Quarter

CC — Ty Cannistraro 12 pass from Ayden Pereira (Mike Ryan kick), 8:22

CC — Justice McGrail 3 pass from Pereira (kick blocked), 5:31

H — Victor Martinez 25 run (kick failed), 2:00

Second Quarter

CC — Pereira 2 run (Ryan kick), 11:27

CC — Pereira 54 run (Ryan kick), 5:30

CC — Justice McGrail 25 pass from Pereira (kick failed), 5:22

H — Tristin Naylor 8 pass from Adrian Sarrette (Joe Spiro kick), 0:11

Third Quarter

CC — Matthias Latham 90 pass from Pereira (Ryan kick), 7:30

Fourth Quarter

H — Naylor 25 pass from Sarrette (rush failed), 1:06

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

RUSHING: Central Catholic (11-99) — Ayden Pereira 4-64, Markys Bridgewater 3-31, Matthias Latham 2-4, Matthew Blanchard 1-0, Blake Hebert 1-0; Haverhill (49-275) — Victor Martinez 19-149, Joe Spero 10-54, Tristin Naylor 12-52, Nolen Skafas 5-5, Adrian Sarrette 3-15

PASSING: Central — Pereira 13-14-0, 217; Haverhill — Sarrette 4-4-0, 30

RECEIVING: Central — Latham 3-106, Ty Cannistraro 2-46, Justice McGrail 2-28, Preston Zinter 2-11, Andrew Lesofsky 2-20, Max Frediani 1-2, Bridgewater 1-4; Haverhill — Naylor 4-30

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