The following was written by Jim Southmayd and appeared in the Wakefield Daily Item,
Belmont, MA— Throw in a little mud and players’ uniforms covered in it and Friday night’s game at Harris Field between the Wakefield High and Belmont High football teams was one football purists would’ve loved.
The Warriors overcame torrential downpours, slippery conditions on the FieldTurf at BHS and an upset-minded Marauder team as they pulled out a hard-fought 19-7 triumph to remain undefeated on the season.
Wakefield (4-0) needed a 98-yard interception return for a touchdown by senior LB Alec Brown to go up by two scores and hold off a Belmont team that played much better than its 0-4 record.
“We were lucky,” said Head Coach Mike Boyages. “Belmont deserved to beat us. We struggled under some tough conditions.”
Still, Wakefield made the plays when needed as it broke two big running plays for touchdowns with the first being a 59-yard jaunt by sophomore RB Luke Martin and the second by junior QB Miller from 30 yards away. Add in the interception return and the Warriors gutted it out.
Statistically, the game was pretty even as Wakefield gained 251 yards (198 yards rushing, 53 yards passing) while Belmont had 242 total yards (164 yards running, 78 yards through the air). One area the Marauders had a big advantage was in total offensive plays as they ran 57 to Wakefield’s 41. Each team turned the ball over only once on a wet evening as each QB threw a pick. But the Warriors made Belmont pay for its mistake.
Leading the way rushing for the Warriors was Miller who gained 132 yards on 15 carries. Martin was next with 61 yards on seven carries. Miller had a tough night throwing in the rain as he completed four of 12 passes for 53 yards with one interception. Belmont was led by senior RB Alex Nikolaidis who gained 84 yards on 22 carries with a touchdown.
Defensively, Wakefield was led by Tyler MacDonald with eight tackles and Brown with seven. Zack Levine had six and a host of players had three stops. Of course, Brown had the big interception return which is believed to be close to or a school record.
“Belmont played well but we made the plays when we needed to,” said Boyages. “We’ll take the win.”
Both teams failed to pick up a first down on their first possession before Belmont moved the chains on its next series on a fake punt play on fourth down. That helped the Marauders get into the end zone for their only score of the game.
Belmont sustained an 11-play drive which resulted in a 7-0 lead.
Junior Toussaint gained a yard on first down, Nikolaidis forged ahead for four yards on second down and QB Brian Coutts was stopped after a two-yard gain on third down which set up a fourth down and three play from the Warrior 49. Belmont lined up in punt formation but the ball was snapped to Max Jones who gained 13 yards and a first down at the Wakefield 36.
Nikolaidis ran for four yards and Toussaint gained three yards on second down. After an incompletion on third down, Coutts gained four yards on a fourth down and three play to keep the chains moving. Nikolaidis gained 13 yards and then a personal foul penalty on Wakefield set up a first down and goal from the 6. Nikolaidis ran the ball in from there. Darren Chan added the extra point and Belmont led, 7-0, with 1:30 left in the first quarter.
Wakefield answered immediately as it needed just two plays to get into the end zone. After a 20 yard kickoff return by Derek Dussault put the ball at the Warrior 35, Martin gained six yards on first down. On second and four from the Wakefield 41, Martin broke through with a 59-yard TD jaunt. Brian Auld added the PAT to tie the game at 7-7 with 36 seconds left in the first quarter.
Belmont didn’t pick up a first down on its next series of downs. In fact, the Marauders went for it on a fourth down and two play from their 42 but Coutts was stuffed by Levine for a two-yard loss.The Warriors moved into the red zone as a result of a facemask penalty on Belmont and gains of seven yards and two yards by Martin. But a four yard loss on third down and an incompletion by Miller on fourth down gave Belmont the ball back deep in its own end.
Wakefield squandered yet another series in Belmont territory after it took over at the Marauder 38 as the result of a 12-yard punt. After a four yard gain by Miller three incompletions resulted in Belmont getting the ball back.
The Marauders got as far as their 42 and again elected not to punt. Coutts’ pass on fourth down fell incomplete as the Warriors took over. Wakefield needed just two plays to get into the end zone.
Miller gained 12 yards on first down and then broke a 30 yard TD run. The extra point was wide right as Wakefield led 13-7 with 2:28 left in the second quarter.
The Warriors went three and out on its first possession of the third quarter. Belmont, however, picked up three first downs and moved the ball into the red zone on its first series of the second half. Nikolaidis gained 15 yards on first down and Coutts ran for 13 yards on second down. Craig Janjigian also moved the ball with a 19 yard run which brought the ball down to the Wakefield 12. But Nikolaides was stopped no gain on first down and two yards on second down. After an incompletion on third down, Coutts’ 27-yard field goal attempt on fourth down fell short as the Marauders came away with no points.
The Warriors moved the ball on their next series. Taking over at their own 20, Wakefield moved into the red zone itself. Big plays on the drive were a 32-yard run by Miller and a 33-yard reception by Bruce Brown. After a four yard run by Miller brought the ball down to the Belmont seven, a chop block penalty and an illegal forward pass penalty on the Warriors pushed Wakefield back. A third down pass by Miller was intercepted by Keith Burns at the 5 yard line.
Belmont then moved the ball deep into Warrior territory and threatened to tie or take the lead.
Nikolaidis was stopped for no gain on first down, then senior WR Mike Richardson got behind the defense for a 50-yard reception from Coutts (who completed three of 15 passes for 78 yards). Nikolaidis broke a 14 yard run and Toussaint gained three yards as the third quarter ended. Nikolaidis ran for eight yards to begin the fourth quarter. After a holding penalty, Nikolaidis caught a 10 yard screen pass. Nikolaidis then had runs of four, five and two yards on fourth down to set up a first down and goal situation from the Wakefield 9.
Toussaint gained two yards on first down, Coutts threw an incompletion on second down and Nikolaidis was dropped for no gain on third down. On fourth down, Coutts’ pass to his left near the goalline was intercepted by Alec Brown at the 2. Brown returned the pick the distance to give Wakefield a 19-7 lead with 6:23 left.
Wakefield went for the two-point conversion after the touchdown but Miller’s pass was incomplete.
“(Defensive Coordinator) Steve Cummings wanted a timeout before that fourth down play to make sure we were set on defense,” said Boyages. “Alec Brown made a great play on the ball.”
The Warriors stopped the Marauders on their next series and then never gave the ball back as they were able to run out the clock.