Upper Cape Tech Knocks Off Pope John Paul II 26-24 In Opener
By: Dan Crowley
Pope John Paul II edged Division 5 Super Bowl defending-champion Nantucket in their season opener on September 8. The Lions planned to roar again last Friday night at Clean Harbors Stadium on the campus of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy when they faced Upper Cape Tech in the season opener for the Rams. But less than two minutes into the football game, UCT unleashed a weapon that perhaps PJP2 hadn’t expected. Jon Dumont, on an end around play, took the handoff from quarterback Edgar Eldredge and turned on the jets. Dumont raced around the right side of the line and was a distant memory before the Lions knew what hit them. The Rams attempted to add a two-point conversion but came up short, leaving PJP2 suddenly in a 6-0 hole.
It took PJP2 less than a minute to respond as they returned the kickoff for six points and connected on the two-point conversion for an 8-6 lead. UCT scored two more times with runs by Dumont and Ryan Kiely, but the Lions managed a second TD late in the half to cut the UCT lead to 20-16 at halftime.
“We came out of the half and had to kick off to them.” Coach Mike Hernon explained. “We stressed how important that first drive was. They had the momentum with the late score they got at the end of the first half. We came out and got a stop that swung momentum back in our favor. We drove the ball down to their 36 and got a 10-yard penalty on third down to make it third and 13. Dylan (Derby) had a 47-yard TD run to make it 26-16.”
Nick Strawn intercepted a PJP2 pass on the next series, but the Rams’ drive stalled.
“It was a key point in the game,” Coach Hernon said. “We were able to eat clock and held them to six offensive plays in the third quarter.”
The Lions scored again with seven minutes left in the game on a 60-yard pass play.
“Again, we were able to establish a drive but ended up punting the ball away with 3:30 left in the game,” the coach said. “We were able to get the stop on defense we needed and got the ball back with two minutes left, and we were able to get a first down and run out the clock.”
Dumont led the Rams with 14 carries for 207 yards with two TDs and a two-point conversion. Dylan Derby had 16 carries for 184 yards with what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown. UCT combined for 446 total yards of offense in the 26-24 win.
“The kids played great,” Hernon added. “You can put in a game plan that you think is going to work, but at the end of the day you need the players to execute and they most certainly did. I think losing 46-6 last year left a bad taste in all our mouths and we definitely felt we had something to prove. It was the most proud of a team I have been in the 11 years I’ve been coaching. To overcome last year’s defeat and beat a very good, well-coached football team in Pope John was a gratifying experience for our team. Especially when I’m sure nobody outside our locker room thought these kids had a chance was pretty special.”
The Rams will travel to Boston to face O’Bryant (0-2) Saturday afternoon for a 1 PM kickoff. The Tigers opened the season September 8 with a 28-0 loss to Cathedral. Last week they hosted East Boston, falling 22-20.
The Tigers are members of the Division 5 Boston South League.
Last fall O’Bryant finished with a record of 7-3. They’ll return eight letter winners but are overall young and inexperienced, especially on the offensive and defensive lines and in the backfield.
The Tigers scored three times in their game with East Boston. In the first quarter George Gomez ran the ball in from 28 yards out and in the second quarter Brian Donna connected with Joseph Farrell for a 54-yard pass play that resulted in a touchdown. In both cases the PAT failed. In the fourth quarter senior Mehki Williams recovered a fumble and took it in from 30 yards out and then scored on the two-point conversion.
The Tigers will also have senior wide receiver and defensive back Christian Ransom on the field. When not lined up as a wideout, Ransom could take a few snaps as quarterback.
The Tigers are averaging 10 points per game just two games into the season and have allowed an average of 25.
“They are going to have athletes all over the field and we are going to have to be ready to match their tempo,” Coach Hernon said of O’Bryant. “They gave East Boston all they could handle this week and East Boston is usually the class of the City League when it comes to football so I’m expecting it to be another really competitive game. They run a spread offense. It is good to have already seen that once with Pope John. I think that is going to help. But when it comes to playing teams with speed you have to run to the ball on defense and tackle well. If you are unable to tackle in space against athletic teams, it is going to be a long day.”
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