The rain poured down all night and the temperatures dipped into the low 40s, but not even that dismal weather could dampen the spirits of the faithful, as the McLean High School varsity football team beat Jefferson, 36-20, to give the Highlanders their first win of the season on the night of their homecoming.
Senior Tory Beiro took his team on his back, rushing for 328 yards and accounting for all 36 of the Highlanders’ points, adding a field goal and three extra points to his five-touchdown night. Beiro also added a pair of 50-yard kick off returns, pushing his all-purpose yardage well over 450 for the game.
With a wet forecast, the start of the game was accelerated by an hour to 6:30 p.m. and early on it appeared a sparse crowd at-best would be on hand to support the then-winless Highlanders. Nevertheless, the fans defied the miserable conditions to fill the stands and Beiro made sure the night was a memorable one for all involved.
Sporting black jerseys worn specially for homecoming, McLean dominated time of possession thanks in no small part to Beiro’s dominance on the ground and the effort of the Highlander offensive line. Leading 3-0 in the first quarter, Beiro got into the act defensively as well, snaring an interception at mid-field only to have the ball squirt away from his grip after a few strides. Fortunately for McLean, the ball popped right into the arms of Brian McElhaney. That set up Beiro’s first touchdown of the night, a three-yard scamper that concluded a relentless rushing attack that ate up yards and the clock.
A long return on the ensuing kickoff, compounded by a 15-yard personal foul penalty for a late hit, gave Jefferson prime starting position at the McLean 39 yard line. However, the Highlanders held, stopping the Colonials on fourth and six to reclaim possession. Beiro broke free twice for a pair of runs totaling 60 yards, before capping the drive with a four-yard touchdown run. That put the Highlanders up 17-0 following the extra point, and with 6:07 remaining in the second quarter, Beiro had already surpassed 150 yards for the game.
But Jefferson quarterback Jonathan Seidman would rally his team to get the Colonials back in the game. While the weather clearly impacted their pass-oriented offense over the course of the contest, Seidman overcame the wet conditions to connect with Ryan Sullivan for a 36-yard touchdown pass down the middle of the field to bring Jefferson back within 10 points with 2:44 remaining in the half.
However, Jefferson’s defense again failed to contain the McLean running game and a 28-yard run by Aaron Cornwell set up Beiro’s third touchdown, a three-yard sprint off the right tackle, and gave the Highlanders a 24-7 lead at the half.
Jefferson started out strong in the second half, with a touchdown by running back William Pelak, capping a 14-play drive that started at the Colonials’ own 18 yard line.
Seeking to counter the Highlander running game, the Colonials put nine or even 10 defenders in the box to start the second half. While they forced McLean to go three and out on its first drive, Beiro eventually broke through the wall of defenders for a 49-yard touchdown run with 34 seconds remaining in the quarter.
A touchdown by Jefferson’s Connor Russamano on an inside reverse with just under eight minutes remaining in the game, brought the score to 30-20, but Beiro would derail any comeback hopes with his final score of the night, going 33 yards for a touchdown run to account for the final margin.
Beiro also had a 60-yard touchdown run called back on McLean’s first series of the game on an illegal-use-of-hands call. The Highlanders settled for a field goal.
For McLean, Cornwell finished with five rushes for 43 yards, while quarterback James Pascoe and running back Mike Shipley added 10 and 9 yards respectively. On the other side of the ball, Connor White recovered a fumble forced by Victor Vinegas, and McElhaney ended the game with a pick.
The win brings McLean’s record to 1-7 on the season, insuring that they will surpass the mark of McLean’s 1988 team, the last Highlander squad to finish the season without a win. McLean faces South Lakes this Friday at home at 7:30 p.m. As the final home game of the season for the Highlanders, the game will serve as the school’s senior day.