McDonald powers English to 22-12 victory

The Thanksgiving game won’t be Tyllor McDonald’s last appearance at Manning Field. Lynn English’s senior quarterback will no doubt be back calling signals in the Agganis Football Classic in July.

But as a career closer at English, McDonald’s performance on the holiday will rank up there with the greats who have proudly worn the Bulldogs uniform.

Led by McDonald’s offensive exploits, English defeated Classical, 22-12, in the annual crosstown matchup Thursday morning.

McDonald threw touchdown passes to Melvin Tavares (49 yards) and Travonne Berry Rogers (42 yards) and also rushed three yards for a score. McDonald, a cornerback, was also brilliant on defense as were the rest of coach Peter Holey’s men in maroon and grey.

Holey wasn’t surprised that his team was able to upset Classical, who appeared to have the edge on paper.

“We knew that if we put out our best players we were a really good team,” said Holey. “The kids were confident all week. They practiced hard.”

Holey feels his players can take some lessons about life from this season and their potent team effort against Classical in one of the best holiday rivalries in the state.

“I’m just glad about how well we played on Thanksgiving because it’s been a long, frustrating season,” said Holey. “This team’s ability to persevere and gut it out teaches them a life lesson that we as coaches try to tell them: if you keep working hard, things are going to work out well, and that’s exactly what happened this year.”

Holey, a former Division 1 football player at Boston College, praised Tyllor McDonald for his leadership and excellence on the field.

“I’ll tell you who Tyllor reminds me of – Tony Thurman,” said Holey, referring to the former All-American selection who also played at Boston College. “Except Tyllor is faster. He’s that good.”

Holey said McDonald’s next stop in his athletic career will likely be junior college and the sky’s the limit after that.

“I really feel he’s going to go places,” said Holey. “I think he is a Division 1 college football prospect.”

Holey will have plenty of good memories to talk about at the team’s breakup banquet, especially the Thanksgiving victory over Classical.

“Travonne Berry-Rogers had some big catches for us – a big touchdown catch and a huge fourth-down catch,” said Holey. “Melvin Tavares had a great game for us.”

And Cory Burt may be one of the all-time unsung heroes in English-Classical Thanksgiving history.

“The difference, besides Tyllor in the game, was Cory Burt,” lauded Holey. “Cory was drilling our kickoffs down to the goal line and we kept hemming them in. That was huge. And then he kicked a 26-yard field goal that put up by two scores (16-6 at the half).”

Derek Stevens, Cole Gentile, Joe Plesses, Cory Burt, Mike Dwyer and Jeremy Lessard were defensive standouts in the game, helping to contain quarterback Nick Grassa and the Classical offense.

“We put our best team on the field on Thankgiving – that’s the team I wish we had all year,” said Holey.

English finished its season with a 7-4 record. Classical ended its campaign with an 8-3 mark.

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