MONROE — The pressure was on for the host Masuk and Guilford football teams on Friday.
Both teams entered the game with a 3-2 record and another loss would make it extremely tough to qualify for the Class L playoffs. Get a win and playoff hopes would still be alive and within reach.
The Panthers took that pressure off early and often in the first half with five unanswered touchdowns.
Dan Verrastro ran for 157 yards on 12 carries and scored four touchdowns and Jeffrey Nugent scored on two touchdown runs in the first half to lead Masuk to a 48-0 non-league win over Guilford.
The Indians were held to 26 total yards in the first half.
“We played some tough teams early on and this was by far our most dominant win of the season,” Masuk coach Joe Lato said. “It felt great to get the win and the playoffs is where you want to be. But the big thing right now is to take it one game at a time. We’re focused on going 1-0 as we approach each game moving forward.
“We got great plays from our sophomore quarterback Nick Saccu, from Dan Verrastro and Jeffrey Nugent, from our lines, from everyone.”
In the first half, Masuk, which snapped a two-game losing streak, scored on their first five possessions.
The Indians went three and out on the first possession of the game and from there the Panthers set the tone of the game.
Verrastro scored the game’s first touchdown, breaking two tackles and bolting up the middle untouched for a 53-yard touchdown run. Mike Epifano’s kick made it 7-0 with 9:14 to go in the first quarter.
On Guilford’s next possession deep in its own territory, the Indians’ punt was blocked setting up a first down on the Guilford 21 yard line. Two plays later, Verrastro scored on a 16-yard run and Epifano’s kick made it 14-0 with 6:51 to go in the first quarter.
On the Panthers’ third possession, Nugent scored his first touchdown on a 4-yard run for a 21-0 lead with 2:51 to go in the first quarter.
Verrastro scored on a 6-yard run with 6:43 to go in the second quarter (kick failed) and Nugent added another score on a 33-yard touchdown run with 2:50 left in the half for a 34-0 lead at halftime.
“We were building our lead in the first half, but in this game of football a lead is never safe,” Verrastro said. “We always keep playing hard because so many times teams come back. It felt great to score four touchdowns but everyone played great. The offensive line opened holes for us.”
The Panthers domination continued in the second half.
On the second play from scrimmage to start the third quarter, Saccu got in on the scoring action with a 76-yard touchdown run for a 41-0 lead with 11:16 to go. Verrastro put the finishing touch on the scoring with a 47-yard touchdown run for the 48-0 final as time ran off the clock and the third quarter ended.
“We didn’t come to play today, I thought we’d be more competitive,” Guilford coach Anthony Salvati said. “The option is tough to defend and it was an onslaught from the start. We didn’t do our job.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Dan Verrastro, Masuk: Ran for 157 yards and four touchdowns.
“We didn’t expect the game to be one-sided at all, to keep scoring touchdowns one after another like we did.”
— Masuk’s Dan Verrastro.