Nick Gross (21) puts a stop to Zach Clark's run. Jwann Johnson (14) moves in from the secondary to help if needed.
Tigers tamed, eventually
Few, if any, knew what to expect when Littleton's varsity football team came to visit Friday evening. The Vineyard had never played them nor had they played any of the teams that Littleton beat to earn a 3-0 record: Murdock, Grafton, West Boylston.
Perhaps it was the name, Littleton, that made us wonder if they would be adequate opposition for the Vineyard's well-conditioned, well-coached team with, according to the published program, 16 players weighing 200 pounds or more.
Those thoughts disappeared as soon as the Tigers took the field for a pre-game warm up. They were big!
Darren Stobie (15) filled shoes vacated by the injured Bubba Brown on the defensive line and did it exceedingly well.
And they were also strong. After mishandling the kick-off, they began the game on their own four-yard line, and drove inexorably up the field, arriving at the M.V. five-yard line in 14 running plays, better than a seven-yards-per-play average. From there, their leading ground gainer, Zach Clark, pushed into the end zone.
Clark then ran off tackle for a two-point conversion. It had looked too easy.
Then it was the Vineyard's turn.
Beginning on their 40, after the Tigers' kick went out of bounds, the Islanders took eight plays to score. Quarterback Mike McCarthy ran the option play to good effect, pitching to a trailing Matt Lucier or keeping the ball and dodging would-be tacklers. Lucier scored from four yards out, then added a two-point conversion to tie the score at eight.
Josh Paulson runs away from would-be tacklers and scores from 31 yards out.
The Tigers began the second quarter on their own 31. Fifteen plays later, a mix of runs and passes, Clark scored from the eight-yard line but failed on the two-point conversion try. Littleton 14, M.V. 8.
There were three minutes remaining in the first half. Michael O'Donoghue returned the kick to the M.V. 47. McCarthy carried to the Tiger 41. Lucier ran for 10 more yards and Josh Paulson ran the rest of the way, knotting the score again. But not for long! Zach Coutinho kicked the extra point, giving the Vineyard a one-point edge, 15-14.
In the final two and a half minutes of the period, Littleton was called for holding, then fumbled the ball, which Nick Goss covered for M.V. A McCarthy to Paulson pass made it first and goal on the six. From there McCarthy ran it in. Coutinho added the extra point. M.V. 22-14.
Dwann Johnson intercepted a pass for the Vineyard. Two plays later the Tigers returned the favor. Littleton took to the air and appeared to cash a big gainer on a halfback pass but referees called the play illegal - two forward passes - and the ball came back as time finally ran out in the half.
The home team put the ball in play on their own 32-yard line to begin the second half. They picked up two first downs before Littleton intercepted a pass on their 11 yard line. Fourteen plays later Littleton was stopped on the Vineyard 5.
M.V. moved the ball to the 40, then stalled and a personal foul backed them up. With fourth and 50, Lucier's punt sailed over the head of the Tiger return man and the ball was downed on the 30. Littleton found it tough going, suffered a sack, and gave up the ball on their 45. After a short gainer by Doliver, Paulson took the ball around left end, shook himself free from a couple of Tigers and took off for the end zone.
Coutinho's kick, regular as clockwork, made the final score 29-14.
Bubba Brown was injured early in the game. Daren Stobie proved to be more than an adequate substitute. Andrew Larsen's and Nick Fogt's names kept coming up when M.V. was on defense. QB Mike McCarthy loomed large as passer and runner and his option play with Lucier was a constant gainer.
The win moved the Islanders to the top of the Boston Herald's Division 3A list, ahead of Shawsheen, East Boston and Blue Hills, the Vineyard's first League opponent, here on Friday, Oct. 12.
Mayflower Large teams, Blue Hills, Cape Cod Tech, Southeastern and Bristol-Plymouth, like M.V., are all unbeaten.
Friday's game at Hull (1-3) has been chosen by NBC for coverage on their Sunday evening football program. MVTV and Plum TV will be filming the game and WMVY radio will cover it live.
Lyle Zell takes the salami
Lyle Zell of West Tisbury, sailing his rebuilt Folkboat sloop Ensa, won the Salami Cup, and the salami, in a race sailed Saturday. Under seamless blue skies and with a brisk northwesterly on the nose but a westerly current to help, nine deeply reefed competitors and their adventurous crews beat their way out of Vineyard Haven Harbor, then smashed across Vineyard Sound to Hadley Harbor.
This was the eighth or tenth annual sailing of the Salami Cup - record keeping is informal. Jeff Craig in Rosa Parks and Myles Thurlow sailing Skipperkey were early finishers. Other racers included Malabar ll, Harmony, Kildeer, Perception. An heroic finish by Paul Curran and Jill Walsh in Dave, a 12-foot home built catboat, completed the race. Awards were held aboard the Fredrick C. Paulson, operated by Rick Brown. Co-founder Phil Zell, and his sloop Lapwing were sadly missed.