Defense With The Stop

The Mashpee High School defense played a big role in the Falcons’ win at Bellingham last Friday.

Everything was set up for the Mashpee High School football team to give a subpar performance last Friday night, November 15. The Falcons were playing a consolation round game, on the road, a long way from home in Bellingham.

A mentally weak club could have easily mailed it in and given a less-than-good performance.

MHS did the exact opposite. With a superb showing by the defense, which was invigorated by the first game for interior lineman Tyreese Charlton, the Falcons overpowered the Blackhawks on their home field. Mashpee improved to 6-3 overall on the season with a 22-6 victory in the season’s penultimate game.

“We fought, we ran to the ball and played with excitement,” coach Matt Triveri said. “You really can’t ask for much more than that.”

Mashpee’s defense made stops on the first seven drives where Bellingham had the ball, keeping the Blackhawks from scoring until the fourth quarter. Twice BHS got inside the Falcons’ 10-yard line, only to come away empty handed. The defense had five sacks and two takeaways.

With the game scoreless late in the first quarter, Bellingham got down to the Falcons’ seven. A run on first down gained one yard, but then a block from behind on a running play to the right negated a touchdown and put the ball back at the 16. Mashpee then stuffed a swing pass, got a sack from Jack Vinitsky and knocked away a Hail Mary to keep the game tied at 0-0.

Late in the second quarter, with time running out in the half, BHS advanced to the red zone before time ran out with the team at the MHS 18. Mashpee had taken the lead by that point, going up 8-0 on a couple of nice runs. Quarterback Ryan Hendricks, who was playing hurt, made a nifty jump-cut past the line of scrimmage to turn a short gain into a 25-yard touchdown run late in the half.

The MHS defense had set up that scoring chance for the offense. Bellingham gambled on its side of the field, going for it on fourth-and-two from its own 31-yard line. BHS tried to pick up the yards it needed on a sweep to the right, but Cam Sweeney and Devon Hughes strung the play out wide to allow Samson Brooks to finish off the play with BHS not gaining a thing.

Two plays later the Falcons were in the end zone. Nick Santos (13 carries, 70 yards) went for a gain of six on first down, then Hendricks danced through for six points on the following play. Santos added the two-point conversion for an 8-0 Mashpee advantage, which is where things stood at halftime.

Mashpee put the pressure on the home team by opening the second half with a seven-play, 53-yard scoring drive. After a great kick return from Santos put the ball across midfield, coach Triveri broke out a full house backfield package to secure a couple of big plays. On third-and-two from the Bellingham 39, Jared Barr hauled the pigskin out of that look and followed a Vinitsky block for a gain of 22, putting the ball down at the Blackhawks’ 17. A few plays later they went back to that package and again Barr carried the load, using another Vinitsky block to score a 10-yard TD. Barr added the conversion for a 16-0 lead.

Bellingham had a chance to get back into the game on its following drive, but the defense held with a goal line stand that resulted in a takeaway. Bellingham marched down the field with a strong passing game, getting all the way down to the five after a 32-yard play put it near the goal. A scramble on first down put the Blackhawks at the one, but Mashpee got it back on the next play. Again MHS strung out a running play, an option pitch to the left, and the pressure it brought forced a bad pitch. Dan Mitchell jumped on the ball and recovered the fumble, keeping the shutout in play.

Bellingham finally got on the board midway through the fourth quarter, ending the whitewash by the defense. Itshopes of a comeback were dashed, though, in short order. After Charlton stuffed the two-point conversion play, keeping MHS up by two scores at 16-6, the offense needed just five plays to get into the end zone.

MHS first recovered an onside kick, then Santos went to work. The running back had back-to-back five-yard runs, then broke free for a 39-yard gain, getting stopped just shy of the end zone. Two plays later Hendricks hooked up with Vinitsky on a bootleg pass for a three-yard touchdown to make it 22-6.

Bellingham scrambled to fight back, but the Falcons’ defense had one last exclamation point to make. BHS got deep into MHS territory, but a shot to the end zone was intercepted by senior Devon Hughes, sealing the win for the Falcons.

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