The last two years, Aidan Nistl was focused on running kilometers for Hamilton-Wenham on all kinds of terrain.
Now, the senior has transferred that focus to running for yards on a football field.
The former cross-country runner racked up electric touchdown runs of 45 and 60 yards as host Hamilton-Wenham rallied for a 27-22 Cape Ann victory over North Reading on Saturday afternoon.
His first TD, and ensuing extra point, tied the game 14-all in the second quarter. His second, in the third quarter, tied the game, 20-20.
The Generals (1-1) took the lead for good when Ian Coffey connected with quarterback Billy Whelan on a 45-yard halfback option pass for a 26-20 lead before Nistl drilled his third point-after.
“One thing you cannot teach is speed,” said Hamilton-Wenham coach Jim Pugh. “And he has speed.”
The 5-foot-7-inch, 150-pound Nistl played football his freshman year at Hamilton-Wenham before choosing to run cross-country for the last two seasons.
“I missed [football] a lot,” Nistl said. “I wanted to come back for my senior year.”
If Saturday’s game was any indicator, Nistl’s two-year hiatus from football hasn’t slowed him down a bit.
“[Cross-country] training kept me in shape,” Nistl said. “It helped to increase my speed.”
Upper Cape 15, Southeastern 14 — The Rams savored this victory as much as any in recent memory.
Thomas Zine connected with Drew Brightman on a 7-yard scoring pass as time expired to cut the deficit to 14-13. After coach Ken Owen and offensive coordinator Tom Bailey decided to go for the win, Juzuary Salim blasted into the end zone for the conversion and the win for host Upper Cape (1-1).
On Tuesday, after sustaining a potentially serious injury in practice, an unnamed Upper Cape player was taken by med-flight to Rhode Island Hospital in Providence. A day later, he was released from intensive care, and then the hospital, with a concussion.
“The injury had a profound, immediate affect on everyone,” said Owen. “It hit the players and the coaches. Finding out he would be OK was a huge sigh of relief for everybody.”
“It wasn’t the injury that supplied the catalyst for the [Saturday’s game], it was the recovery.”
Walpole 42, Wellesley 35 — After seizing a 14-point fourth-quarter lead, the Rebels (2-0) withstood a furious rally by the Raiders (1-1) to hang on in Chris Sullivan’s first game at home as coach of his alma mater.
“We weren’t holding on to these games last year,” said Sullivan, who was the defensive coordinator last season.
“We weren’t even given a chance to hold onto these games.”
Will Jarvis threw for touchdown passes of 16, 4, and 11 yards — all in the second half — while rushing for another in the first. Patrick Kearns came up with a sack for the Rebels on a do-or-die fourth-and-7 late in the fourth quarter for Wellesley to enable Walpole to gain possession and run out the clock.
Gloucester 21, Beverly 17 — With less than five minutes remaining, the Fishermen surged ahead on a 21-yard pass from James Nelson to Marc Smith.
The Gloucester D never got a chance to protect that lead. Beverly quarterback Ryan Barror took the ensuing kickoff 82 yards for a TD. But the Fishermen marched 90 yards in three minutes before fullback Ryan Argentino plunged in from the 1 for his second touchdown of the afternoon. Gloucester stopped Beverly’s fourth-down bid at the 35 to lock up the win.
Lynn Tech 51, Mystic Valley 6 — Quarterback David Barrios (113 total yards, 3 TDs) and running back Chance Buono (2 TDs) fueled a 328-yard attack for the Tigers (2-0), who opened up a 32-0 halftime margin in Malden.
“We’ve earned the name of being a physical football team,” said Tech coach James Runner. “You really can’t focus on one of the backs in our backfield . . . we spread the ball around on a consistent basis.”
“Our game plan going in was to take over the line of scrimmage and we did that really well.”
Lynn Tech also limited the host Eagles to minus-38 yards in the first half.
Giuliani Daniells (3 rushes, 76 yards, 1 TD), Elvin Gonzalez (8 rushes, 56 yards, touchdown), Haidar Bdaiwi (3-33), and Luis Pineiro (5-28, touchdown) led a backfield that racked up 289 yards.
Cohasset 28, Nantucket 27 — Gray Thomas (162 yards rushing, 2 touchdowns) and Matt Lund (2 TDs passing) powered the offense and the Skippers denied the Whalers on a 2-point conversion attempt in the fourth quarter.
St. Mary’s 39, South Boston 22 — Derek O’Leary tossed a 43-yard TD pass and scored on a 1-yard keeper as the visiting Spartans (2-0) ran off 31 unanswered points for the nonleague victory.
West Bridgewater 24, South Shore Voc-Tech 0 — Senior back Christian Keeling (12 rushes, 77 yards) scored from 2 yards out and ran in a pair of 2-point conversions for the Wildcats (1-1).
Westford 21, Waltham 6 — Matt Accabo, Garrett Ackerman, and Adam Mahoney recorded interceptions and Sean Brown had three sacks for the Grey Ghosts (1-1).
Correspondent Jake Levin also contributed to this report. To report scores, call 617-929-2860/3235 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.