Untouched

Brady Johnston uses a huge hole by his offensive line to walk into the end zone untouched for a second half touchdown against Blue Hills in the first round of the MIAA state tournament last weekend.

Quarterback Brady Johnston is a believer, and he has been one for a long time before Mashpee opened up the MIAA state tournament November 5 with a 41-13 bombardment of Blue Hills at Horne Stadium. MHS used that lopsided win to move on to the round of eight in the Division 7 state tournament where they will face No. 2 Amesbury (7-1) with a trip to the semifinals at stake.

“I think we definitely have what it takes. I’ve felt that way since week one, when we lost to Norwell, how (mad) we were after that. We’re in the quarterfinals now, and we’re smelling Gillette. Amesbury, they’re a good team, it’s going to be tough, but I think that we can do it,” Johnston said.

The senior quarterback was in uniform, but did not play, as an eighth grader when his older brother, Jake, led the team to a Super Bowl title. The younger Johnston now is hoping to keep the family tradition going, but it will take three more wins in a row, and none will be tougher than the one that the Falcons will go after just south of the New Hampshire border.

“They’re very, very good,” Coach Matt Triveri said. “They’re the real deal. They’ve played some very good football teams and won. That’s going to be a tough game.”

Amesbury putting a hurting on East Boston in the first round of the tournament, also on November 5, beating EB by a 50-14 score at Landry Field in Amesbury, the site of tonight’s game. Every higher-seeded team in the field of 16 moved on to the second round as the field of 16 was whittled down to top eight teams in the field.

The other games tonight feature No. 1 Wahconah hosting No. 8 Clinton; No. 4 Northbridge taking on No. 5 West Boylston; and No. 3 Hamilton-Wenham facing off against No. 6 Cohasset.

Mashpee’s recipe for success in the first round was the same one that earned them a spot in the field: a rock solid running game and great defense. The vaunted Wing-T offense that the Warriors favor had issues getting going against the Falcons, who played great on the defensive line and never let the old-school attack fluster them.

“They played great. I thought (the defensive tackles) were terrific tonight. Chris Distillio was excellent, (Brett) Hickey didn’t get moved, he took away the trap and made plays inside, took away the quick stuff,” Coach Triveri said. “We had a size advantage on them, but I thought we did a great job reading our keys, getting to the ball, doing what we were supposed to do.”

With the defense setting the tone, the offense got the ball back quick in the first quarter and went right to work, marching down the field effectively on their first drive to take a 8-0 lead right away on a 28-yard scoring run by Kayden Eaton. That was set up by a huge fourth-and-five pass by Johnston, who hit a bootleg throw to Danny Mitchell to move the chains. The next play saw Eaton get into the end zone, and then Johnston hit Mitchell for the conversion.

Johnston said that the offensive line was a big key on that drive, and all game long. He credited the players in front of him for keeping him clean all night, and for opening huge lanes for himself and the running backs.

“They’re the hardest working kids I know, I wouldn’t take anyone else over them,” the QB said.

In the second quarter MHS put the game away, making it a two-score game, which made it difficult for Blue Hills to stick with their game plan. Johnston made it 14-0 with a two-yard plunge with 5:50 to play in the half. Blue Hills answered with a quick score of their own on the only real mistake that MHS made all night, leading to a 79-yard TD run by Eric Mann, but the time to celebrate for the Warriors was brief.

MHS had 4:35 to work with before the half, and used up most of it to kill the clock and added another eight to the scoreboard. Johnston got things going by hitting a pretty seam pass down the middle to Mitchell for a gain of 25 that put the ball down at the Blue Hills’ 39 before capping the drive with 47 seconds to play in the period with a one-yard run that no one touched him on. Mitchell caught the conversion to make it 22-6 at the half.

Eaton nearly turned the lights out on the Warriors by running the opening kickoff of the third quarter back for an 89-yard score, but a flag brought the ball back to the MHS 48. Instead Johnston put the game out of reach on the next play, following his blocking to the right for a 52-yard scoring run and a 28-6 lead just 31 seconds into the third.

Later in the quarter the senior quarterback found Erich Menke in the end zone for a four-yard TD pass, which Menke celebrated impressively, to make it 34-6. Johnston later threw another touchdown to Mitchell to put an exclamation mark on the win, hooking up for an 86-yard play early in the fourth.

While all of that scoring was fun, Triveri knows things only get more difficult going forward. For Mashpee to have a chance at their fifth Super Bowl title in program history, it will take a big-time effort on the road against a very good Amesbury team.

“I just know (Amesbury) plays in a good league. I look at their schedule, and they beat Wayland, a Division 4 power. They have one loss, they’re the only team to beat North Reading, they’re the No. 1 seed in Division 5, so they’re obviously very good.”

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