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Fast Times at Billerica High

September 8, 2018
Fast Times at Billerica High

Billerica's Dom Shanley (28) tackles Lowell High's Kevin Yrrizarry in Friday night's game. SUN/Julia Malakie Sun staff photos can be ordered by visiting our SmugMug site.

BILLERICA -- It was ping-pong football at breakneck speed as Billerica and Lowell spent four quarters taking turns racing from end zone to end zone.

When the scoreboard clock finally struck 0:00 Billerica had opened its season with a 54-point outburst. And the Indians need every one of those points to outlast a Red Raider club loaded with playmakers.

Billerica held on to defeat Lowell, 54-49, in a wildly entertaining Merrimack Valley Conference cross-over football game Friday night.

Quarterback Nolan Houlihan passed for 320 yards and six touchdowns to lead the way for Billerica. Colby Cyrus caught three touchdown passes for the Indians, while Anthony Morales, Nick Gualtieri and Shawn Colby hauled in one scoring pass each.

Lowell was led on offense by Brendan Tighe, who had an incredible all-round game while scoring five touchdowns. Tighe rushed for 161 yards and three touchdowns on three carries, caught seven passes for 148 yards and two scores and had an interception on defense.

“Everybody got their five dollars’ worth tonight,” said Billerica coach Duane Sigsbury. “What a wild game. I’m excited for the kids that they got their first win. We’re a very young team. (Lowell) has a lot of dudes that can really play. They are a Division 1 program.

“We’re young and we’re going to have some growing pains. We made a lot of big plays. We gave up some, too. But hey, we won. And that’s a good thing. It’s a good start for us. To beat a team that is well coached with a lot of great athletes is a real good start.”

Lowell stayed within striking distance the whole game. The Indians didn’t seal the win until they recovered a fumbled punt with less than a minute to play.

“Our kids are always going to fight to the end,” Lowell coach John Florence. “They are going to compete. We definitely need to work on being consistent. We played really well in spurts. But then giving up a lot of big plays really killed us, turnovers, just things that you can’t let happen in the MVC.”

Both teams started fast on offense and continued to gain speed throughout the game.

In the first half, Houlihan threw two touchdown passes to Cyrus (12 yards and 20 yards), as well as, scoring passes to Morales (1 yard) and Gualtieri (66 yards). Billerica was up 33-28 at halftime.

Houlihan capped off his big opening night with TD passes to Cyrus (14 yards) and Colby (25 yards) in the second half.

“Nolan Houlihan did a great job,” said Sigsbury. “He’s a great quarterback.”

Gualtieri also scored on a 5 yard run, while Rob Moore rushed for 126 yards and a TD for the Indians.

“For us to score 54 points, that’s a hats off to our kids,” said Sigsbury. “It has to do with the kids believing in themselves on offense.

“We’re 1-0, That’s huge points for us for beating a Division 1 team for the playoff seedings.”

Tighe ripped off a 76 yard TD run to give Lowell a 7-0 lead on the Red Raiders’ second play from scrimmage. And he continued to make big plays all night. Tighe also scored TDs on runs of 3 and 82 yards. He caught TD passes of 6 and 13 yards from Aidan Foyle.

“He is just a tough, tough kid,” said Florence. “He has speed. He’s physical. He can do a lot. He’s always working out. He has an incredible attitude. He just loves to compete.”

Justin Villanueva rushed for 74 yards and two TDs for Lowell.

Follow Carmine Frongillo on Twitter @cwfrongi

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