Tristan Atwood casts aside Whaler Casey Santos for a big gain. Photo by Ralph Stewart
Vineyarders leave Whalers lost in a purple haze, 27-12
The Vineyarders gave new meaning to "defending the cup" Saturday afternoon in front of nearly 2,000 fans at Dan McCarthy field. In a flawless first quarter, the Purple defense simply keel-hauled the Nantucket Whalers, hitting with relish and pad-popping ferocity to force three turnovers in eight minutes, as the Vineyard surged to a 17-0 lead and never looked back in a 27-12 Island Cup victory.
The Vineyard JV and junior high squads also prevailed to complete a Purple sweep.
For MV defensive coordinator Bill Belcher, who is retiring after 15 seasons, his unit's performance contained an embarrassment of riches. The Vineyarders held Nantucket to 103 yards of offense, recovered three fumbles, and intercepted QB Geddes Paulsen twice.
John Swan put the Vineyard up 24-0 with this 9-yard run late in the first half. Photo by Ralph Stewart
The Whalers showed heart and determination in regrouping from the initial onslaught, but there was little doubt that the Cup would be staying in the Vineyard trophy case for the third year in a row. MV has won seven of the last nine contests, the best sustained stretch since 1962-65, when the Vineyarders went 6-0-2 against their archrivals.
The Purple creep ever closer in the series, with Nantucket still leading 35-21-3 and 17-11 in Island Cup games.
The 28th edition of "The Game" was played on a beautiful 45-degree autumn day, the kind that Head Coach Donald Herman wishes he could have had three weeks ago in snowy Hanover against South Shore.
One might have expected the Whalers, still angry about last year's 21-20 loss and reeling from their worst season (1-8) since 1976, to come out on fire. But it was the Vineyarders who had the swagger.
Tristan Atwood bashes Nantucket's John O'Mara, while Tyler Hathaway strips the ball, leading to David Amabile's back-breaking 66-yard TD. Mike Cecilio (76) lends support. Photo by Ralph Stewart
The Nantucket nightmare started on the second play when Lucas Landers recovered a Mark Dwyer fumble at the Whaler 22. Dwyer, to be fair, had an excellent day, gaining 79 yards on 11 carries.
Two plays later, Ryan Rossi hit EJ Sylvia on a 20-yard slant over the middle for the opening TD. EJ's conversion made it 7-0 after only 102 seconds.
Sarah Bergeron kicks up her heels during a dazzling halftime show. Photo by Ralph Stewart
On the ensuing kick-off, Alan Fortes jarred Ethan Farrell from the ball and Bastile Lucier recovered at the Whaler 13. A holding penalty forced MV to settle for a 26-yard Sylvia field goal and a 10-0 lead, but free points are free points.
"Nantucket helped us out a bit in the first quarter, but we took advantage of it and that's the sign of a good team." said Coach Herman at halftime.
The Whalers drove to the MV 34 on their next series, but even the faintest change in momentum was extinguished when Tyler Hathaway stripped the ball from John O' Mara. David Amabile scooped up the loose ball and dashed 66 yards to the end zone. Sylvia's kick made it 17-0 with 1:50 left in the first quarter.
The hits just kept a-comin' as Hathaway punctuated Nantucket's next effort by drilling QB Geddes Paulsen for a sack.
Next, the Vineyard offense showed their stuff by marching 39 yards in 10 plays. John Swan slashed in from the nine and Sylvia again booted the PAT for a 24-0 halftime lead.
The Purple faithful celebrate the first Vineyard touchdown. Photo by Ezra Blair
MV started the second half by chewing up seven minutes of the third quarter, moving 73 yards in 16 plays - a coach's dream of a drive. Anthony Sullo and Tristan Atwood (17 carries, 80 yards for the day) did most of the damage and EJ Sylvia popped his second 26-yard field goal of the afternoon to put MV up 27-0.
The Whalers next drive ended in frustration again when Tristan Atwood snared the first of two Vineyard interceptions. John Swan would have the other, fittingly right after the crowd saluted Coach Belcher.
The Vineyarders got a bit sloppy and undisciplined in quarter four, chalking up 30 yards in penalties and two turnovers, which allowed the Whalers to leave with 12 points and a more respectable scoreline.
Leanne Jackson (the higher flyer) and Jessica Walsh get the heave ho against a beautiful autumn sky. Photo by Ezra Blair
Nevertheless, MV closed out a 7-3 season and 4-1 Mayflower Large mark in grand style.
"What our seniors did to keep the team together [following the loss to South Shore] and the way they played defense the last three games against three good opponents, my hat's off to them," Coach Herman said. "The character they showed, coming to practice still fighting hard… I'm very happy for these kids."
Bubba Brown breaks free from Hunter Day on his way to the end zone and a 21-0 MV lead. Photos by Ralph Stewart
The JV Game
The Vineyard junior varsity also stormed out of the gate, scoring on their first three possessions to build a 21-6 halftime lead, en-route to a 28-20 win.
Nick Fogt, David Flanders, and Joel Rebello attacked the Whalers by land and QB Mike McCarthy did the same through the air.
MV picked up right where they left off from last year's 38-0 dunking in Nantucket. Fogt gained 14 yards on the first play and sprinted for 49 more on the third. Zach Coutinho's PAT made it 7-0, MV.
Nantucket moved backwards on their first drive, thanks to Cooper Johnson and the Vineyard defense.
Liam O' Callaghan and Zach Coutinho lasso speedy Whaler Andriquez Farmer.
MV then whisked down the field on a seven-play, 54-yard jaunt, culminating in Mike McCarthy's 10-yard TD toss to Joel Rebello. Coutinho booted the extra point for a 14-0 lead with 1:39 left in the first quarter.
Rebello started off the second quarter with a 25-yard punt return to the Whaler 35. Six plays later, McCarthy flipped a screen pass to Bubba Brown, who fought through the slipping grip of Hunter Day and dashed 20 yards to pay dirt. Zach Coutinho was true again and the Whalers were sinking fast in a 21-0 trench.
Or were they? Andriquez Farmer took the Whalers' next snap and bolted straight up the middle for a 61-yard touchdown. The Vineyard defense responded by nullifying the two-point conversion with a bone-crunching hit.
In the second half, the Vineyarders stayed on the ground, with one pile-pushing run after another. David Flanders tacked on the final MV TD with a five-yard run and sure-footed Zach added the conversion for a 28-6 lead.
A proud JV squad lets loose after the big win.
From there, the Whalers showed their mettle and battled back with two late touchdowns. They also came perilously close to recovering an onsides kick with one minute remaining, but it was not to be.
The Vineyarders finished the season at 5-3.
Head Coach Ryan Ruley had hearty praise for his team following the game. "It was a total team effort. It was the second time this year that we played every single kid and everybody contributed evenly…I love it!"
Head Coach Kevin Piggott gets the victory bath from an elated group of junior Vineyarders. Photos by Ezra Blair
Junior Vineyarders finish unbeaten
Eric Dolliver rushed for over 100 yards, scored two touchdowns, and played a huge game at middle linebacker to lead the Vineyard junior high squad in a 14-0 blanking of Nantucket.
Eric Doliver clears a hole for Josh Baker.
The defensive line turned in one of its best efforts of the season, starting with a goal-line stand on the Whalers' first possession. Randall Jette also kept the Whalers at bay with strong two-way play and two interceptions.
The offensive line was dominant all day, paving the way for Dolliver and protecting back-up quarterback Lamar Maciel, in for the injured Steve Handy.
The junior Vineyarders finished the season at 7-0-1, atop the Cape Cod League.
Head Coach Kevin Piggott applauded his team's great season and thanked all of his coaches, Offensive Coordinator Adam Cummings, Defensive Coordinator Tommy Delvechhio, Lines Coach Jay Forend, and Receivers and Backs Coach Dave Garvin for a superb job.