MILTON, Mass. -- Oftentimes bad weather football games are decided by intangibles; things such as ball control can be the difference between wins and losses.
Belmont Hill didn’t necessarily adhere to that credo of protecting the ball for long stretches of Saturday’s game played in monsoon rains at Milton Academy, but the Hillies held onto the ball when it mattered most in a clock-killing fourth-quarter drive.
The Hillies ran their record to 6-0 with a 10-3 victory over the Mustangs, but Belmont Hill head coach Kevin Fleming was still felt unfulfilled.
“I’d like to see us put in a true four-quarter effort,” said Fleming, who’s in his last season at the Hillies’ helm after 21 years. “I don’t think we’ve really put a complete game together yet.”
Belmont Hill fumbled five times losing four during the first half.
Milton Academy (3-3) took the first lead of the game with freshman Justin Yoon’s 40-yard field goal midway through the second quarter. That lead didn’t last long however, as the Hillies responded scoring the only touchdown of the contest on a 50-yard connection from Connor Murphy to Matt Gustafson minutes later.
“They were running a Cover-3, so we came out with the four [verticals], Coach [Curt] Oberg called that one,” Murphy said. “I saw the safety shift off to the right side and I hit him wide open. I don’t think he had to break a tackle and got in the end zone. That was a huge momentum shift for us, obviously.”
The Hillies added to their lead on George McLaughlin’s 23-yard field goal at the end of the third quarter.
COMING OUT STRONG
Belmont Hill’s lackadaisical start Saturday resembled that of their season opener at BB&N.
Thankfully, for the Hillies, both of those mud bowl games resulted in victories, but it’s a trend Murphy’s looking to correct.
“In the BB&N game we came out flat again and we came out in the second half and won and it was the same today. We just believe in our defense. They held them to three points today. Our defense has been great and our offense finds a way to get into the end zone. “
For all the ball control problems the Hillies had early on, equally as impressive was their ability to hang onto the ball during their game-sealing drive to run out the clock in the fourth quarter.
With under three minutes remaining, the Hillies forced a turnover on downs after Mustangs quarterback Anthony Scurto’s rush on fourth and five came up half a yard short. Taking over on their own 8-yard line, Belmont Hill pounded the ball behind running back George McLaughlin, exhausting all of the Mustang’s timeouts and bleeding the clock dry.
And it all came down to the Hillies’ ability to control the line of scrimmage.
“We have two senior captains on the left side, with Parker [Mundt] and [Robert] Perdoni, they’ve been great,” Murphy said. “Our fullback Goose [Gustafson] has been opening holes up for George [McLaughlin] and obviously he’s run the ball great and he came up huge for us on that last drive.”
Milton Acad. (3-3) 0 3 0 0 -- 3
Belmont Hill (6-0) 0 7 3 0 -- 10
M – Justin Yoon 40-yard field goal
BH – Matt Gustafson 50-yard pass from Connor Murphy (George McLaughlin kick)
BH – McLaughlin 23-yard field goal