Marblehead extends winning streak to 23 games

NORTH ANDOVER — Every time Marblehead seems on the precipice of having its state-long winning streak snapped, Connor Cronin delivers.

On a brisk Friday night and in a difficult road environment, Marblehead extended its winning streak to 23 consecutive games with a 12-7 victory over North Andover behind Cronin’s go-ahead 39-yard touchdown reception late in the third quarter.

The Magicians 23-game winning streak is the longest in Massachusetts since King Philip’s 25-game winning streak that ended in week one of 2018. The longest winning streak in Massachusetts high school football history belongs to Acton-Boxboro (52).

“We knew we were facing a good opponent tonight but overall we got the job done,” Cronin said. “Every team is coming at us. North Andover was talking trash all week. We’re just going to keep doing what we do though, which is grinding out wins.”

North Andover (2-1) broke the ice late in the first half as after only delivering two pass attempts through the first 21 minutes, Drew Fitzgerald dropped a 28-yard dime into the hands of Cam Partridge to put the Scarlet Knights up 7-0.

Despite having just only a minute until halftime, Marblehead answered. Cronin returned the ensuing kickoff 47 yards to the Magicians’ own 49. Miles O’Neill then went 5-for-7 for 51 yards, the last of which was a nine-yard touchdown to Ryan Commoss to pull Marblehead within 7-6 at the break.

Marblehead pulled in front on its final drive of the third quarter. After hooking up with Cronin for a 21-yard reception on third a long, O’Neill found his primary target once again, connecting with Cronin on a deep post route for a 39-yard touchdown to put the visitors in front, 12-7.

“This is the third team in a row that has adjusted their coverage just for Connor (Cronin),” Marblehead coach Jim Rudloff said. “What he is very good at though is not running a hard route and letting their coverage develop before finding the seam.”

North Andover had one final chance to win the game when it retained possession with just over four minutes remaining. The Magicians defense, however, held firm and Christian Pacheco came through with a key tackle for a loss to force a turnover on downs and give Marblehead a key nonleague victory.