Brandon Watkins scored on a 47-yard run midway through the fourth quarter to lift Martha’s Vineyard to a 22-18 Eastern Athletic Conference win over the Bishop Stang Spartans Friday night at Dan McCarthy Field.
The Vineyarders’ first league win of the season was Donald Herman’s 200th as Vineyard head coach (he has 212 overall) and stopped a three-game losing streak.
The Purple and White are back above .500 at 5-4 and will close out the EAC schedule on November 10 in Taunton against Coyle Cassidy. The 34th Island Cup game against Nantucket is November 17 in Oak Bluffs.
The game-winning play against Bishop Stang was a labyrinthine jaunt by Watkins. The Vineyard senior back took the handoff from quarterback Alec Tattersall, swept to the right, stopped on a dime at the first hint of trouble, broke through the middle of the Spartan defense, and dashed clear across the field to score in the left corner of the end zone.
The Vineyarders had a chance to close the game out on a promising drive in the final four minutes but had to punt after a fumble forced a 4th and 9 from the Stang 39. Mike Cutrer booted a perfect kick out of bounds at the Spartan 12.
After stopping Stang on three plays, Spartans quarterback Charlie McKeeman, a handful all evening, dropped back to pass on fourth down, scrambled away from the Vineyard defense and lobbed a 40-yard pass across mid-field. Joe Turney leaped and knocked the ball down to end the final threat.
The Vineyarders celebrated with abandon and gave coach Herman a victory Gatorade bath.
“It’s so good to end the three losses in a row against a good football team,” coach Herman said after the game. “This was probably Stang’s best team that I’ve seen since we’ve been in the EAC. We’ve just had so much adversity with all the injuries and what not. We had another player go down tonight.”
The Vineyarders came into the game without the services of Stuart Hersh and lost John Henry O’ Shaughnessy to injury just before halftime.
“I told [offensive/defensive lineman] Aaron Lowe, ‘I want you to dress for an emergency situation,’ and, lo and behold, we had to use him,” the coach said. “We found out at 2:30 this afternoon that Stuart Hersh wasn’t going to be able to play. Diego de Freitas stepped in and did a great job at tight end and had to play both ways. It’s great to see the kids have the adversity and overcome it because that’s what they’re going to have to do in life. I think that’s the greatest lesson, but it’s great to see them play the way they did tonight.”
The Vineyarders got on the board in the first quarter on a 16-yard pass from Alec Tattersall to Jahmari Thomas. Watkins added the two-point conversion.
At the start of the second quarter, with the score 8-6. M.V., Tattersall and Watkins hooked up for a 66-yard TD catch. Mike Cutrer added the PAT for a 15-6 Vineyard lead.
Charlie McKeeman scored on a 20-yard keeper late in the quarter and the Vineyarders led 15-12 at the break.
The Spartans quarterback scored again in the third quarter on a nine-yard sweep to the right to give Stang an 18-15 lead heading into the final period.