Wakefield Drops Middlesex Opener to Watertown: 20-14

September 28th, 2015 by wwcpresident

Wakefield, MA – 4th Quarter Comeback Falls Short

 The Wakefield Warrior offense showed flashes of brilliance and the defense showed improved consistency but a handful of plays once again proved the difference as the Watertown Red Raiders held on for a 20-14 Middlesex League victory over the home team at Landrigan Field Friday night.  Spotting the Red Raiders a 20-0 lead going into the fourth quarter, the Warriors used big passing plays to close the deficit to one score.  But as Coach Cummings said in a post-game interview, “we put ourselves in a position to have to play nearly perfect football in the fourth quarter and we just couldn’t do it.”

Alex McKenna scored one touchdown and played a strong three-way game for the Warriors, at safety, wide receiver, and kick returner.  Kevin Russo scored the other Wakefield touchdown showing outstanding straight line speed.  And the defense executed their assignments much more consistently throughout the game.

First Quarter

Wakefield won the toss and choose to defer possession to the second half.  A six yard kickoff return, aided by a 15 yard facemask penalty against the Warriors, gave Watertown the ball in good field position at its own 43 yard line to start the game.  However, Wakefield would force an immediate three-and-out, foreshadowing the solid defense Wakefield would play for much of the game.  Seniors Matt Mercurio, Zack Kane, and Mike Moran led the charge, each being credited with a tackle, to force a punt

Senior captain Tighe Beck returned Kevin Foley’s punt 11 yards to set up Wakefield at their own 26 yard line for their first drive of the game.  However, junior Carmen Sorrentino, returning to game action from an ankle injury, fumbled after a nice 4 yard pickup and the Raiders went right back on offense.  Junior Alex McKenna blew up the first play — a sweep right for a loss of 2 yards – coming up from his safety position to make a great tackle.  But on the next play Watertown junior quarterback Deon Smith kept the ball on an option right, jumped over a would be tackler and raced untouched for a 32 yard touchdown run.  The PAT kick was good and Watertown took a 7-0 lead three and a half minutes into the game.

Wakefield started its second drive at its own 20 yard line following a touchback.  The coaching staff called Carmen Sorrentino’s number again and he responded with a 7 yard run that pushed the pile downfield.  Kane gained another 4 yards and a first down by churning his legs after contact.  Senior Paul McGunigle got 6 hard yards the next two plays with runs up the middle.  Kevin Russo then got another 3+ yards on a jet sweep leaving Wakefield with 4-and-inches at their own 40 yard line.

The Warriors went for it, executing a hard count at the line of scrimmage that drew the Raiders offside, keeping the drive alive.  Senior quarterback Ned Buckley ran for 7 yards on a designed keeper, Tighe Beck then gained two yards on the wildcat before McGunigle gained 7 more yards and a first down behind a great push from the offensive line.

However, with the Warriors now inside the Watertown 40 yard line, the Raider defense stiffened.  McGunigle had two consecutive runs of 2 yards each before Buckley looked downfield before settling for pass to Kane in the flat that only gained a yard.  Again facing 4th down, this time at the Raider 34 yard line, needing 6 yards for a first down, Wakefield went for it.  Buckley tried to thread the needle to a well-covered Warrior receiver but the ball was intercepted ending the drive.

Second Quarter

Watertown went three-and-out to open the second quarter.  The defense played well this series as the line filled their gaps and good coverage by the secondary turned a third down pass attempt into a 4 yard scramble that fell well short of the first down marker.   A 44 yard punt with no return put Wakefield on its own 22 yard line but this next Warrior drive went nowhere.  A fumbled snap on first down lost 8 yards, a strong pass rush by Watertown forced a second down incompletion and a third down bubble screen lost another yard.

Pat Leary’s 26 yard punt put the ball at the Wakefield 38 yard line where Watertown took over.  Four Raider runs got the ball inside the Wakefield 25 but great front and back end execution by the defense forced an incomplete pass on 2nd-and-8.  A 7 yard run gain put Watertown in its own 4th-and-inches at the Warrior 16.  They too tried to draw the defense offside on 4th down but were unsuccessful as the Wakefield line held their position, forcing a Watertown timeout.    Placekicker Conor Kennell came out after the timeout and nailed a 32 yard field goal to put Watertown up 10-0 inside 4 minutes left in the first half.

Alex McKenna took the ensuing kickoff from his 4 yard line to the 22 before absorbing the hardest hit of the night but he held onto the ball and Wakefield started its fourth possession.  A run by McGunigle, a pass to senior Alex Jancsy, and a short scramble by Buckley left Wakefield with its third 4th down conversion attempt of the half.  Paul McGunigle converted a 2 yard dive play to keep the drive going as the clock wound down towards the two minute warning.  Then on 3rd-and-7 from the Wakefield 36 yard line, quarterback Buckley rolled right and fired a laser downfield to McKenna who turned it into a 43 yard gain down to the Watertown 21 yard line.  Buckley and McKenna immediately combined again for a 7 yard pickup via the pass before Buckley and Tighe Beck just missed connecting in the corner of the end zone.  Beck caught the jump ball against good coverage but it came out as he hit the ground.  Wakefield had two more chances after that from the 14 yard line but could not convert.  The half ended with Watertown maintaining its 10-0 lead.

Third Quarter

Wakefield got the ball to open the half but history quickly repeated itself.  After Buckley gained 6 yards to start the possession, Wakefield put the ball on the ground on its second play when Buckley got hit on a designed keeper up the middle.  A motion penalty on Watertown’s first play after the turnover pushed the ball back to the Warrior 31 yard line making it 1st-and-15.  The Raiders could not recover, gaining only 11 yards on the next three plays from scrimmage.  But Watertown’s Kennell booted a 36 yard field goal that had just enough leg to get over the crossbar.  Three minutes into the 2nd half and Watertown had extended its lead to 13-0.

On the kickoff McKenna returned it 16 yards to the Wakefield 26 yard line.   On the first play from scrimmage, Paul McGunigle broke through the Raider line, cut left, got outside, and scampered 51 yards before being pushed out of bounds at the Watertown 23 yard line.  Two more running plays got the ball to the 13 yard line and a first down.  Kane and McGunigle each gained 4 yards on consecutive runs before McGunigle was stacked up at the line of scrimmage on 3rd down and a 4th down pass was caught out-of-bounds, turning the ball back over to the Raiders at the five yard line.

To this point, the Wakefield defense had been able to eliminate the big plays that had hurt them in their two previous losses.  But after a 1 yard run moved the ball to the Watertown 6 yard line, the Raiders cashed in their only big play ticket of the game.  Quarterback Deon Smith made an outstanding fake to the running back diving into the line, instead keeping the ball and sprinting to the near sideline.  He turned the corner and quickly moved past the first two lines of Warrior defense.  Two defenders made a futile effort to catch him and by the time Smith stopped running he had a 94 yard touchdown to his credit.    The PAT kick was good and Wakefield was now looking at a 20-0 hole.

After yet another return by Alex McKenna, this one for 20 yards, Wakefield got the ball at its own 28 yard line needing something to get back in the game.  Three Buckley runs sandwiched around a McGunigle run and a Watertown offside penalty put the ball at the Wakefield 45 yard line to start the 4th quarter.

Fourth Quarter

On the very first play of the fourth quarter, McKenna got behind the coverage and Ned Buckley threw the ball over the trailing defenders.  The play covered 52 yards before a shoestring tackle tripped McKenna up at the 3 yard line.  Two plays later Zack Kane went into the end zone standing and the Warriors were on the board.  A successful PAT kick by Paul McGunigle made the score 20-7 and brought the home crowd back into the game.

With 9:30 remaining, down two scores, Wakefield tried an onside kick but the ball was easily covered by Watertown around midfield.  The Raiders picked up one first down before Wakefield shut down a fourth down conversion, allowing 3 yards on a 4th-and-4.

Wakefield took over on their own 30 yard line with just over 5 minutes left needing two touchdowns.  On first down Buckley and Kevin Russo, recreated their touchdown magic of a year ago when the Warrior JVs played the Watertown JVs.  Running the same play, Russo went up the near sideline where Buckley found him in stride 20 yards downfield.  From there, Russo, a sprinter on the track team, found a third and then a fourth gear taking it 70 yards to the house while electrifying the crowd.  McGunigle’s PAT was good and Wakefield had closed to within 6 points at 20-14.   

The excitement was short-lived however as Smith, returned to next kickoff 60 yards putting Watertown in the red zone at the Wakefield 18 yard line.  Two runs only gained two yards and senior lineman Nick Nice came up big dropping the Raiders for a two yard loss on third down.  That brought in Kennel for the field goal attempt but his kick was low and blocked by the Wakefield line.

The shift in field position caused by the kickoff return meant Wakefield would take over needing 75 yards to tie the score.  The Warriors took over on their own 24 yard line with 2:55 left and the student section chanting its support.  Three runs advanced the ball to the Wakefield 35 yard line with about 1:30 remaining.  The Warriors could not move the ball any further as four consecutive passes did not click.  Watertown took the ball back and used the victory formation to run out the clock.

Wakefield now goes on the road for three straight Friday nights starting with Wilmington on Friday night October 2nd at 7pm.  Wilmington is currently 1-2.

Notes: Another good home crowd as AD Brendan Kent’s idea to sell advance tickets at Honey Dew Donuts at the top of the Lake and at the High School Student Store was an immediate success.  Honey Dew alone sold $1000 worth of tickets and there were shorter lines at the ticket booth on game night….. the student section was filled with Warrior supporters including a return appearance by the “Warrior” in full headdress….. Watertown did a nice job defensing Tighe Beck who faced double coverage all game long….. senior lineman Mike Hagioglu recorded a key 4th quarter sack…..the Warriors made adjustments to their offensive scheme, running the read option much less this game…..Wakefield turned the ball over three times leading to 10 Raider points; Watertown did not have a turnover…..For the second week in a row, Wakefield faced an opponent with a good kick game, this time sophomore Conor Kennell who hit 2 field goals, two PAT kicks, and drove the ball well on kickoffs….Watertown quarterback Deon Smith showed his athleticism with touchdown runs of 94 and 32 yards as well as that 60 yard kick return…..Beverly, which beat Wakefield in the home opener, is looks to be very much for real as a Super Bowl contender again this year.  They defeated a strong Peabody team, featuring All-Scholastic running back Doug Santos, 28-7 and stand one point ahead of Tewksbury atop the Division 3 Northeast power rankings…..Some of the best homemade baked goods you will ever get at a high school sporting event can be found at the Cheerleader table.  Stop by next home game October 23 to see what people are talking about

 

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