Martha’s Vineyard (3-5) fell to Norwell High School (4-4), 22-8, Friday night before a sparse crowd at windy Dan McCarthy Memorial Field in Oak Bluffs.
Vineyarder senior back Joe Turney scored on an eight-yard run in the second quarter and converted the two-point run conversion to tie the score before the Clippers scored again to take a 16-8 halftime lead. Norwell closed out the game and the scoring in the third quarter with a 27-yard run. The Clipper two-point conversion try failed.
Jacob Cardoza led the Vineyarders with 97 yards on 13 carries, and Kyle Stobie returned from an injury to lead the defense with 11 tackles. Joe Turney had 57 yards and Isaac Higgins 20 yards rushing as the Vineyarders gained nearly 200 total yards on the ground.
The Division 5 Vineyarders found themselves arrayed against the formidable Division 3 Clippers on Friday night as a result of a new MIAA-sponsored playoff scheduling scheme in which three games are selected by MIAA for teams following completion of a five-game league schedule.
“I was pleased with our effort. We played hard and we showed some spurts on a couple of drives,” head coach Don Herman said later. “There were a handful of plays that might have changed the game if they had turned out differently. We imploded a little bit later in the game, but, you know, sometimes you lose to a better team and Norwell was a better team on Friday.”
Mr. Herman was heartened by the steady play of his underclassmen, including sophomores Cardoza, Austin Chandler, Ben Clark, and David Matias, several of whom played new positions to fill in for injured players.
The Clippers received the opening kickoff and scored on a 75-yard, 14-play drive with a two-yard run by Anthony Wood-Casella who also converted a two-point conversion run.
The Clipper drive established a slugfest tone for the evening, marked by clearly-audible pads popping, as the larger Norwell offensive line sought to impose its will on the Vineyarders. Norwell ran inside early in its opening drive, then switched to outside slants and sweeps as the Vineyard’s gang-tack-quarter drive fizzled after six plays at the Norwell 46-yard line. Norwell mounted another long drive drive from its 25-yard line following a Vineyarder punt at the end of the first quarter.
The Vineyarders held, then capitalized on an errant Clipper long snap which sailed over the punter’s head to give the ball to the Vineyarders at their own 41-yard line. The offense, featuring the Turney/Cardoza inside running game, covered the distance in just five plays, capped by Turney’s six-yard run to tie the score at 8-8.
At this point, halfway through the second quarter, the game’s parameters were fairly clear.
Despite one six-yard completion from Vineyard QB Tony Breth to Joe Turney, neither team would risk their very average passing games under windy conditions. Ball control and time of possession by clock-eating drives would be the keys to winning.
Norwell answered the Vineyarder second quarter score with a six-play 57-yard drive completed on a 15-yard quarterback keeper for a score and a 16-8 lead with just two minutes left in the half. A promising five-play, 25-yard Vineyarder drive was stopped by the clock at halftime.
In the third quarter, both teams worked running games that see-sawed between the 40 yard lines until a costly Vineyarder holding penalty and a more costly Vineyarder fumble gave Norwell the ball on the Vineyard 46.
Norwell closed out the scoring as Anthony Wood-Casella exploded through the left side for a 27-yard TD, his second of the day, with 1:24 left in third quarter.
The Vineyarders play at Division 5 Fairhaven at 6 pm this Friday, Nov. 8, and then travel to Braintree the following Friday to take on Archbishop Williams, another Division 5 school. The Vineyarders close the season on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 30 at Nantucket in the traditional Island Cup game. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 pm.