Mistakes Haunt Gardner in Loss to Tyngsboro
By Bill Gilman
GARDNER -- With Watkins Field undergoing renovations, the Gardner High football team is playing its home games at Stone Field for the first time in 40 years.
But on Saturday afternoon, it was the Tyngsboro High Tigers who made themselves at home, with a 37-8 win over the Wildcats, in the season-opener for both teams.
Helped by a series of Gardner miscues, Tyngsboro bolted out to a 22-0 lead after the first quarter and was never threatened.
“We’re still learning, we’re still young, but that’s no excuse,” said Gardner head coach Rob Allard. “That’s definitely not the football team that we are. We didn’t respond to adversity very well. The snowball was sliding down the hill and no one was stopping it.”
Sophomore quarterback Tucker Carmichael threw a pair of touchdown passes to lead Tyngsboro. Evan Robson (12 carries, 57 yards) ran for one touchdown and returned a kickoff 77 yards for another score.
It was a successful debut for new Tyngsboro head coach Rob Beaudette, who served as an assistant under Jim Tansey for the past two seasons.
“It was a good game, I was really proud of the effort, especially coming out of the gate strong like that,” said Beaudette. “We’re a young team and they responded really well, right out of the gate.”
Tyngsboro’s defense held Gardner in check throughout much of the game. Wildcat quarterback Malakide Sieng was sacked six times and the Tigers recovered a pair of fumbles.
Trailing 29-0 in the fourth quarter, Gardner broke the shutout bid on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Sieng to fellow junior Miles Brissette. Zach Wiseman ran in the two-point conversion to make it 29-8. The score was set up by a nifty 16-yard run by Javier Colon (4 carries, 52 yards).
But the momentum was short-lived, as Robson fielded the ensuing kickoff inside his own 25, ripped through a hole up the middle, then cut down the right sideline for the touchdown that capped the scoring.
Carmichael got the Tigers rolling on their opening possession, hitting split end Josh Lesofsky on a 22-yard touchdown pass. Gardner failed to get a first down on its opening possession, and on the punt attempt, the snap sailed over the head of Anthony Richard and into the end zone. Richard scooped up the loose ball and tried to throw it away but was called for intentional grounding and a safety was awarded to Tyngsboro, making it 9-0.
Robson returned the ensuing free kick all the way to the Gardner 23-yard line. Six plays later, Carmichael scored on a keeper from 2 yards out, and suddenly it was 16-0 as fans were still trickling in.
Gardner’s second possession also went poorly, as Sieng was sacked on third down and fumbled, with the ball recovered by Tyngsboro’s Joe Manzo at the Gardner 13. This time it took just two plays for the Tigers to cash in, as Carmichael connected with Thomas Michaud for the 13-yard touchdown.
Gardner settled down as the game progressed, executing better on offense and putting up a much better resistance defensively. On three separate occasions the Wildcats stifled the Tigers on fourth-down conversion attempts.
Robson provided Tyngsboro with its only offensive scoring for the rest of the game, with a 14-yard touchdown run late in the half to push the lead to 29-0 at intermission.