HAVERHILL — It was a battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2 Saturday morning, and one team gave the rest of the state plenty to worry about for the rest of the season.
Londonderry — the top-ranked team in the state by the Union Leader — showcase just how explosive its offense can be, taking down No. 2 Salem, 42-26, at Trinity Stadium, which is on loan by Salem this season due to construction at its field.
With the win, the Lancers (2-0) have now scored 90 points over their first two games.
“Definitely the most complete offense that we’ve had,” said Londonderry coach Jimmy Lauzon. “We’ve had firepower in certain areas, but not necessarily at every spot. We feel like you have to defend all four of our receivers. You have to defend our run game and our quarterback.”
Friday the 13th occurred several hours earlier, but it was turning into a nightmare in the second quarter on the Salem High sidelines. The Blue Devils (1-1) had lost their fourth starter to injury, including their starting quarterback, Cody Clements, and Londonderry countered by doing what it does best — making big plays.
For a while, though, the game was tight.
It was a 14-14 game at halftime, and just past the halfway mark of the third quarter, in a ballgame with Salem staying alive behind their tiny, 5-foot-7, third-string sophomore quarterback, Noah Mustapha, the Blue Devils just trailed by a missed extra point (21-20).
But less than a minute later another big play, this one a 45-yard gallop by Tyler Kayo, led to a three-touchdown explosion that eventually put the game away.
The stat sheet was a bit of an anomaly. Salem’s offense appeared to dominating, running 71 plays versus only 31 for Londonderry.
But with touchdowns like these — an 89-yard kickoff return and 37-yard run by Jeffrey Wiedenfeld; receptions of 60 and 58 yards by Alex Tsetsilas; a 68 reception by Cole Keegan — to go with Kayo’s 45-yard back-breaker, it was too much for Salem to withstand.
“We played a pretty good game,” said Salem coach Rob Pike. “We played tough. We hung in there. But you can’t give up long plays like we did, long passes and kickoff returns, and expect to win.”
Salem’s only chance at staying in the game came early in the fourth quarter, trailing 28-20. The cool, calm and collected Mustapha drove the Blue Devils to the 28-yard line, but he just missed on two passes, including one near the end zone.
Londonderry quarterback Jake McEachern only attempted six passes, completing three of them, all for long scores.
Wiedenfeld rushed the ball 13 times for 96 yards and two scores.
Tsetsilas’ two receptions, both scores, went for 118 yards.
“Londonderry is a very good and talented team, as we just saw,” said Pike. “They have a lot of very good players.”
Salem’s Josh Maroun grinded out 106 yards on 25 carries against the physical Lancers’ defense. Riley Mulvey (14 rushes, 51 yards) and Brandon Wall (13 rushes, 43 yards) also contributed.
Salem, which buried Manchester Memorial 41-0 last weekend, travels to Concord High on Friday night.
Londonderry, now 2-0, hosts Timberlane Regional on Friday night.
Londonderry 42, Salem 26
Londonderry (2-0): 14 0 14 14 — 42
Salem (1-1): 14 0 6 6 — 26
S — Riley Mulvy 50 pass from Cody Clements (Jack Brady kick) 7:25
L — Jeffrey Wiedenfeld kickoff 89 yard KO return (Zach Fawcett kick) 7:10
S — Joshua Maroun 8 run (Brady kick) 3:48
L — Alex Tsetsilas 60 pass from Jake McEachern (Fawcett kick) 2:31
L — Jeffrey Wiedenfeld 37 run (Fawcett kick) 9:53
S — Jack Milos 17 pass from Noah Mustapha (kick blocked) 5:06
L — Tyler Kayo 45 run (Fawcett kick) 4:23
L — Cole Keegan 67 pass from McEachern (Fawcett kick) 11:05
L — Tsetsilas 58 pass from McEachern (Fawcett kick) 9:06
S — Maroun 12 run (Kick failed) 1:54
RUSHING: LONDONDERRY (27-194): Wiedenfeld 13-96, Kayo 5-56, McEachern 7-39, Tsetsilas 1-3, Eric Raza 1-(-3); SALEM (53-218): Maroun 25-106, Mulvey 14-51, Brandon Wall 13-43, Jake Brady 7-21, Cody Clements 2-10, Mustapha 1-0, Michael Ference 1-(-12)
PASSING: L — McEachern 3-6-0, 185; S — Cody Clemens 1-3-0, 50; Mustapha 5-13-1, 60
RECEIVING: L — Tsetsilas 2-118, Cole Keegan 1-67; S — Mulvey 1-50, Ference 3-38, Jack Milos 2-23