QUINCY — By halftime, the only thing left for North Quincy was the turkey.
The Raiders used a stifling defensive effort that forced five first-half turnovers, and six overall, to storm to a 33-8 victory against Quincy at Veterans Memorial Field in the 86th Thanksgiving meeting of the rival schools.
“I gotta tell you this is real special,” said first-year North Quincy coach Ryan Craig. “This is my first (Thanksgiving) win as head coach but I have been a part of the program a long time. This is very sweet. Great group of seniors. I coached a lot of these guys at the youth level and to see them finish up and to come out and push like this — unbelievable.”
North Quincy’s defense was red-hot despite the blistering cold. After forcing a punt on the opening possession, the Raiders (5-6) caused a turnover on four straight drives, starting when senior Tim Layden took a 36-yard interception to the house for the first score of the game.
Win Tran (110 yards, 20 carries) reaped the rewards of the third and fourth takeaways, finishing both ensuing drives in the end zone. On the first one, he utilized a downfield block from junior Andrew Gott for a 39-yard scamper. On the second, it took a team effort as Tran’s linemen assisted by pushing him across the goal line to finish an 11-yard run.
The Raiders put an exclamation point on the defensive first half when senior captain Alex Atanassov recovered a blocked punt in the end zone, making it 26-0. In the final minute of the half, he came through again when he corralled a drive-stopping interception. Layden made it 33 unanswered points for the Raiders when he scored his second TD, this time on offense via an 8-yard run.
“There is nothing singular about it,” Atanassov said after his final game. “The whole team came to play. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my brothers. They mean everything to me and it’s huge and I know it means a lot to a lot of people here.”
With the win, North Quincy improves to 34-47-4 in the all-time series and has won the last three meetings with the Presidents.