Playing In The Rain

Sandwich quarterback Brady Campbell cuts around a would-be Falmouth tackle as the rain falls during the fourth quarter of the Blue Knights’ victory over the Clippers on Friday night.

No one on the Sandwich High School football team cared one bit that they were getting soaked by the deluge of rain that began just as the game against Falmouth had ended last Friday, September 24. The Blue Knights were too busy waiting for their turn to give coach Matt McLean a huge celebration following the Knights’ 35-14 victory against their Cape rivals.

Like the rain at game’s end, Sandwich’s offense increased in intensity in the second half and overpowered a shorthanded Falmouth team. The Clippers were without a number of starters for the game, including quarterback Aiden North.

With North out of action, Falmouth’s offense struggled to find a rhythm. Running back Cooper Young had some strong runs for the team and backup quarterback Jared Lopes made a strong effort, but SHS pulled away, thanks to a dominant second half in which the Knights were able to accomplish most of what they wanted offensively and defensively.

The biggest play of the game came in the second quarter, though. Sandwich (1-1) had begun to find some traction offensively, but seemed to run into a brick wall inside the 5-yard line after fullback Conner Coutinho converted a fourth-and-one run from the 6, just getting over the line for the gain. After that key run by Coutinho the Clippers stuffed SHS on three straight runs from inside the 6, setting up the game’s most important play, a fourth-and-goal from the 1.

To that point in the game, both teams had run the ball exclusively. SHS receiver Aiden Spurr pleaded with quarterback Brady Carroll to throw him the ball, telling him that the Clipper defense was abandoning him on the outside to support the run defense.

Into The End Zone

FHS quarterback Jared Lopes uses a great block from the offensive line to get into the end zone for the first Clippers’ touchdown against Sandwich. SHS won the game 35-14, its first win against Falmouth since 2013.

“We had been running the ball up their throats all game, and that corner had been coming in and Aiden told me, ‘I’m open, I’m open, you’ve got to throw me the ball,’ and I trust him, when he tells me that I’m going to call the play, when coach agrees with me,” Carroll said.

Falmouth (0-3) surged to stop another run, and Carroll made Spurr— and the hometown crowd—very happy by lobbing a pass to the right corner of the end zone to the uncovered receiver to give his team the lead. Falmouth’s Aiden LeBlanc blocked the ensuing PAT, but Sandwich had its first lead of the night and plenty of momentum.

FHS still had plenty of time to respond before halftime, with 3:21 on the clock and all of its timeouts. With Jared Lopes and Cooper Young picking up some nice gains in the running game, the Clippers made it to midfield, and a play-action pass from Lopes to Young had Falmouth down to the Knights’ 29. A nice Eric Zylinski run got Falmouth a bit closer with 32 seconds to go. After an incomplete pass, FHS dug into its bag of tricks to try to get more points on the board before the half, but a halfback option pass fell apart, thanks to a big defensive play by Dan Bader.

Earlier in the first half the Clippers had scored first on a run up the middle by Lopes. Sandwich had tied it on a Pat Morin run.

While the first half had been very competitive, the second was all SHS. A fumble recovery near midfield with 3:28 to play in the third set up a big insurance score for Sandwich as Carroll once again found Spurr in the end zone, this time with a perfectly timed throw—just before the Falmouth pass rush got home—that went for a 26-yard score. Morin ran in the conversion to make it 21-7 with 18 seconds to go in the period.

An interception by Carroll, his first of two in the fourth quarter, set up another quick score for SHS. Carroll ran the ball down to the Falmouth 8 and on the next play Morin ran up the middle to get his team on top 28-7. A 10-yard run by Coutinho with 65 seconds left put an exclamation mark on the win for Sandwich.

Zylinski then returned the kickoff 82 yards to get the Clippers’ final points.

McLean said his team benefited from having a bye leading into the game, and from having played Fairhaven High, which is coached by former FHS head coach Derek Almeida, in its first game. Making some adjustments to ready for Falmouth, the coach said his team was ready to play and executed very well.

“We just tried to have all of our bases covered,” the coach said. “I think it was a gift to play Fairhaven the week before, with a very similar offense. Honestly, that’s one of the best things that could happen (before) playing Falmouth, preparing-wise.”

Sandwich hits the road for a game at Martha’s Vineyard on Friday, October 1, at 4:45 PM. The Clippers will host New Bedford (0-2) at 5 PM.

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