DRACUT -- Dracut and Methuen renewed their Thanksgiving Day football rivalry for the 51st time Thursday. It was also their second meeting this season.

Methuen 29, Dracut 20

Some may argue the new MIAA statewide playoff system cheapens Turkey Day tradition. League titles have long been decided, and the postseason has nearly concluded. And, like in the case of Dracut and Methuen, Thanksgiving opponents squaring off twice commonly occurred throughout the state.

Still, the large crowd at Beaudry Field, and the bevy of personal foul penalties in the game, served as proof that Thanksgiving Day intensity is alive in well with these squads.

Bragging rights went to Methuen with a 29-20 victory. The visiting Rangers (6-5) received two touchdowns each from seniors William Weinhold and Evan Lacroix, and three touchdown passes from senior quarterback Austin George-Williams. The Methuen QB was an impressive 12-for-16 passing for 148 yards on a tough day to throw.

"I've heard so much over the last two weeks about how the Thanksgiving matchup won't be any different the second time around," said Methuen head coach Tom Ryan. "If you were at this game, you got your answer. This game means a lot to a lot of people. Still."

It wasn't pretty. It was cold, windy and there were 15 combined penalties in the contest. Dracut (3-8) also lost to Methuen on Sept. 28, 35-20, but holds the all-time Thanksgiving edge, 26-22-3.

Dracut junior quarterback Tyler Bassett (82 rushing yards, 33 passing yards) did his best to keep the Middies within striking distance with a 52-yard touchdown run and a 17-yard TD run. But Dracut struggled adapting to the wind and never formed a legitimate passing game.

"We overthrew a couple of balls with the wind getting a hold of it," said Dracut head coach Jason Houston. "We tried to keep it to short, intermediate routes. At times we had guys open, we just didn't get the ball to them. We did a good job protecting up front. But ultimately it comes down to execution. With the amount of penalties that we had, you can't beat a team like Methuen with that sloppy play."

With 3:25 to play in the first half, Bassett was taken down in the end zone by Methuen's Mike Golio for a safety that put the Rangers up 9-7. Dracut was pinned deep in its own territory after Austin Bobb picked off a George-Williams pass and the Middies took over at their 2-yard line. Bassett dropped back to run on a zone read and was hit by Golio. It proved to be the key moment.

On the ensuing Methuen possession after the safety, George-Williams hit Lacroix on a curl, and Lacroix broke four tackles on his way to the end zone to put Methuen up 16-7 at the half. George-Williams later found Lacroix for a 7-yard TD to make it 22-7 with 5:35 to go in the third.

A 60-yard kickoff return by senior James MacDonald down to the Methuen 10 helped Dracut get back on the board with a 4-yard TD run from senior Jacey Hebert (16 rushes, 72 yards). That made it 22-14 with 4:36 left in the third, but that was as close as Dracut would get.

DHS forced a Methuen fumble early in the fourth and took over at its own 41. However, the Middies couldn't capitalize and tie the game. After Dracut's three-and-out, Methuen drove 48 yards on seven plays, capped by Weinhold's 4-yard TD to make it 29-14 with three minutes left.

Bassett scored his second TD with 1:41 remaining, but the extra point missed and Dracut failed to recover the onside kick.

"(Bassett) is such a dangerous player, he's one of the best players in the league. We knew if we contained him we'd have a pretty good chance," Ryan said.

The Middies started 0-7, but won three of their final four.

"This group has been through a lot, they've lost a lot of tough games," said Houston. "They're fighters, they fight for every win. This group of seniors brought back the Dracut mentality that we've been looking for the last couple of years."

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