Mercury may have been in retrograde on Friday evening, October 25, but the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) football team did everything right in the final four minutes to beat Coyle-Cassidy, 19-7, at chilly Dan McCarthy Field.
Trailing by a point late in the fourth quarter, the Vineyarders scored two touchdowns in the final 1:21 to win a battle of big plays in the Island homecoming game..
Sophomore Jacob Cardoza scored the game winner with a weaving 34-yard run with 1:21 left in the fourth quarter, and workhorse back Joe Turney added an insurance TD just 10 seconds later on an eight-yard run following an interception by MVRHS sophomore linebacker Austin Chandler.
Following the Vineyarders’ kickoff to Coyle-Cassidy, senior defensive back Aaron Wilson intercepted another Warrior pass with less than a minute remaining, to seal the deal for the Vineyarders.
Pre-game homecoming ceremonies featured the introduction of 22 seniors and their parents and guests and the performance of the National Anthem by senior John O’Shaughnessy before the 6 pm kickoff.
Astrologers maintain that when Mercury goes backwards, we do too, leading to untimely and icky occurrences in our lives. In football parlance, that means that the team that makes the big play wins.
On Friday night, the Vineyarder defense made most of the big plays, which was the difference in a low-scoring game. The D was tough on the run and kept featured back Josh Cobb out of the end zone, forcing the run-reliant Warriors into a passing game in the second half. Two key sacks and tight pass coverage that featured three interceptions stymied the Warrior passing attack, despite good protection for their strong-armed quarterback, Tristan Blaisdell.
The Warriors scored their lone touchdown on a third quarter 24-yard catch and run by wide receiver Henry Brechter, who was otherwise blanketed by Spencer Schofield. The Vineyarder defensive back broke up several end zone passes, despite a seven-inch height advantage favoring the Warrior wide receiver.
For the Vineyarders, who mustered only 39 yards in the air, Joe Turney led the offense with 120 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries, followed by Jacob Cardoza with 67 yards on seven carries, including the 34-yard game-winner. Isaac Higgins gained 20 yards on six carries. In all, the Vineyarder running game produced 221 total yards.
The first 46 minutes of the conference slugfest were not nearly as tidy as the last two minutes. The game was a heart attack, as both coaches and about 400 chilly fans watched their teams mix stellar plays with miscues and penalties in key situations.
Senior Joe Turney opened the scoring with a one-yard run early in the second period to put the Vineyarders up 6-0. The Vineyarder TD was set up by an errant snap to the Coyle-Cassidy punter, which saw the pigskin roll back to the Warriors’ one yard line.
Both offenses tantalized onlookers with drives that almost caught fire, but didn’t. For example, the Vineyard strategy was to run outside, and it was working, but both Turney and Cardoza had long gainers called back for offensive holding on several possessions.
“You know, it was a good win for us, but we could very easily have lost,” Coach Don Herman said post-game. “We made it harder for ourselves. We had several good offensive series, but we committed penalties or had a broken play to stop a drive. I was concerned that we would beat ourselves, and against a stronger team we might have, but overall we took a step forward offensively from where we were several weeks ago.”
On the other side of the ball, he felt differently, “Defensively, I was very pleased, and special teams did a good job,” the coach said. “We had three interceptions and a fumble recovery.”
Noting that several players stepped up to replace seven injured players, including six seniors, he said, “I don’t know when we’ll get our injured players back, but Curtis Farrell, Paul Robinson and Aaron Wilson did good jobs for us.”
The win improved the Vineyarders’ record to 3-4. Coyle-Cassidy fell to 0-7.
The next game is scheduled for 6 pm Friday, Nov.1, here against Norwell, but weather may force a postponement until Saturday. A final decision will be made Friday morning, Mr. Herman said on Tuesday.