Saturday afternoon at Nantucket’s Vito Capizzo Stadium, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket added another riveting chapter to their storied rivalry when they met for the 33rd playing of the Island Cup.
Nantucket launched a 4th quarter rally and was driving up the field, but with 30 seconds remaining on the clock and a slim 3-point lead, Ryan Fisher picked off a Taylor Hughes pass. The Vineyarders beat the Whalers 10-7.
It was MV’s eighth straight win in the Island Cup series.
The Vineyarders ended the season on the highest note possible at 5-6. Nantucket fell to 9-2.
Nantucket still leads the all-time series 35-26-3, but the Whaler edge in the Island Cup has narrowed to 17-16.
The United States Marine Corps, which knows a thing or two about hard fought contests, honored Saturday’s game for the Island Cup as one of the “Great American Rivalries.” The game lived up to its billing.
The Whalers, playing on their home turf in front of stands packed with kin and dedicated fans, had plenty to encourage them. They had won nine of ten scheduled games and earned a berth in the Division 5 Super Bowl. They were smarting from seven straight losses to the Vineyard. Even their legendary coach Vito Capizzo had vacated the warmth of his Florida home to lend whatever support he could to the cause.
The Whaler faithful, already believers, could taste victory early when Taylor Hughes dashed 53 yards to the MV 13. But two plays later, Mike Montanile intercepted a Hughes pass. What followed was a 21-play, thirteen-and-a-half-minute, Vineyard scoring drive. Tyler Araujo bulled over the goal line from one yard out. Joe Turney ran for the two-point conversion and it was 8-0, Vineyard.
The Vineyarders continued to win the fierce battle of the trenches after the halftime break, until they found themselves just one yard away from their second TD, but the Whaler defense held with a goal line stand. Alex Rezendes was credited with the fourth and final stop, denying MV a second touchdown.
The newly acquired Whaler momentum proved to be short-lived.
On their first play from the one-yard line, the snap sailed over quarterback Hughes, giving the Vineyard a safety and a two-point gift for a 10-0 lead.
Still, the gritty Whalers were not through. Beginning on their own 20, Nantucket moved the line of scrimmage 80 yards in 12 plays climaxed by a Hughes TD. Sam Earle’s extra point kick was good and the score stood at 10-7. Nantucket gained control of the ball once more with time running out. Hughes heaved the ball goalward from the MV 39, but Ryan Fisher stepped in front of the intended receiver to intercept and that was all she wrote.
At the half, the Marines rewarded one player from each squad for high academic achievement as well as athletic prowess. MV’s popular choice for special recognition was Mike Montanile.
Mike McCarthy, represented by MV athletic director Mark McCarthy, was inducted into the brand new Island Cup Hall of Fame.
Tyler Araujo was named as The Great American Rivalry Series Most Valuable Player.
All in all, despite the cold, strong wind, it was a delightful day for Vineyarders.
MV Junior Varsity also wins
The Martha’s Vineyard Junior Varsity football team won its game with the Whalers, Saturday, 15-8, completing a season sweep. MV won the previous contest at Mashpee High School, 26-6.
The Whalers got on the board first. The Vineyard answered when Adonis Camby rambled 45 yards to set up a three-yard run by Mike Mussell for the Vineyard’s first TD. Camby booted the conversion. MV trailed by a point, 8-7, at the half.
In the third quarter, MV went ahead to stay when Camby scampered 45 yards to the endzone.
The two-point conversion was a comedy of errors. The play was to be a fake kick, but the snap went awry, the ball bounced every which way, and Nate Horwitz finally secured the ball in the endzone for the two-points.
As in the varsity game to follow, Nantucket’s last gasp was extinguished by an interception, courtesy of Adonis Camby, with 30 seconds left.
Mike Mussell made a spectacular interception in the third quarter.
Phil Hughes, coaching his final game, was aided and abetted by Bill Belcher and Mike Magaraci.
The team finished the season with a 4-6 record. Certainly the win at Nantucket following a 28-0 shutout of Division One Medford, left a very sweet taste in the mouth.
Junior high’s defeated
The MV Junior High team lost its hard fought battle on the Nantucket Boys & Girls Club field, 32-10. Isaac Higgins scored the Vineyard TD.