MASHPEE, Mass. -- Everything lined up perfect for Mashpee in their quest for the South Shore League title against fellow unbeaten East Bridgewater in a winner-take-all event on the Cape.
From the standing room only crowd, to the wacky five shirtless students painted in blue running the sideline track for all 40 minutes, to the fact it was 11-11-11, to having South Shore League champion t-shirts made prior to the game, and finally for the classy way of honoring all veterans with two honorary Army team captains for the coin flip along with a VFW flag ceremony - it was almost like Mashpee knew they would win.
The Falcons (10-0, 7-0) did just that and punched their ticket to the playoffs with a 16-6 win over East Bridgewater for the school’s first-ever South Shore League title. East Bridgewater (9-1, 5-1) also came into the game unbeaten and were averaging 37 points per game on offense until they were stifled by the stout Falcons’ defense.
Despite only getting his number called five times, Jared Taylor scored twice on the ground with 19 and 22-yard touchdown runs and finished with 73 yards (14.6 per carry) to give Mashpee all they needed and head coach Matt Triveri knew how big the win was for the program.
“We are just happy for our community and this is a big win for our school and all the credit goes to our seniors. Even though [Jared] Taylor had two touchdowns it was our senior leadership, we were very loose, and had confidence in each other," Triveri said. “[Taylor is] a man beast and so physically gifted. He averaged over nine yards a carry this season and he breaks a lot of hard tackles and when he gets into the secondary he’s probably going to run away."
Two particular seniors led the way on both sides of the ball as tailback Jordan Keli'inui hauled the bulk of the load on offense with 18 carries for 98 yards and Graham Kilpatrick was the man on defense with eight tackles, three solo, along with a sack.
Making the league title even sweeter, Keli'inui, who rushed for over 1,000 yards as a junior, missed four games with a broken leg last year and the 6-foot-3 Kilpatrick was lost for the entire 2010 season with an injury.
“Zack Orcutt was tremendous at safety on defense and was the best player on the field at times and we were running a 3-4 and [Kilpatrick] was still making plays in the backfield in a 3-4; again, another senior that’s been with the program a couple of years,” Triveri said. “It’s a great feeling for him coming off last year since he didn’t play”.
Taylor scored his first touchdown with 6:03 to play in the second quarter and Keli'inui capped off the 9-play scoring drive with a 2-point rush to give Mashpee the 8-0 lead at the half. But the pivotal moment in the game came in the third quarter with East Bridgewater knocking on the goal line door with a first-and-goal from the Falcons’ 2-yard line.
Vikings quarterback Timothy O’Brien was knocked back for a 3-yard loss on the first play from scrimmage, so East Bridgewater head coach Shawn Tarpey decided to go to his star tailback, Casey DeAndrade.
The Falcons stopped DeAndrade for no gain and then after O’Brien got the Vikings back inside the one with a quarterback option on third-and-goal, DeAndrade lined up under center only to be stuffed inches from the goal line by Kilpatrick and a slew of defenders forcing a fumble and a turnover on downs inside the one.
“That was the pivotal moment of the game, we couldn’t punch it in and I tried to get the ball into Casey’s hands and honestly I’m second-guessing myself on that one and should have gotten the ball to the perimeter," Tarpey said. “I thought we moved the ball but we just couldn’t finish off drives, but certainly give Mashpee all the credit in the world, they gave us difficulties in every phase of the game.”
Missed opportunities had the Vikings failing to score on three separate occasions inside the Falcons 25-yard line. But after Taylor scored his second touchdown with two minutes left in regulation to give Mashpee the comfy 16-0 lead, all hope seemed to be lost until Triveri decided to kick off to the sensational DeAndrade.
All DeAndre did was return the kickoff 71 yards to give East Bridgewater some hope but a failed two-point conversion pass left the Vikings in peril, down 16-6. DeAndrade still was not done as he recovered the onside kick and the Vikings had the ball at midfield trailing by 10 with 1:45 to play.
But East Bridgewater simply ran out of time as they turned the ball over on fourth-and-goal from the Falcons' four-yard line despite the University of New Hampshire-commit DeAndrade finishing with a game-high 116 yards on 19 carries, including his 21st touchdown on the season.
“They gave us everything we expected in terms of our base formation, but we didn’t block great, we are not a powerhouse up front but it comes down to executing and we have to execute a little bit better, we have to tackle better”, said Tarpey, who was looking to get his squad the South Shore League championship belt for the first time since 1995. “We’ve had their number, but we had our hands full, and I’m sure they were thinking payback because we’ve beat them the last couple of years.”
EAST BRIDGEWATER (9-1) 0 0 0 6 - - 6
MASHPEE (10-0) 0 8 0 8 - - 16
MA – Jared Taylor 19 yard run (Jordan Keliinui run)
MA – Taylor 22 run (Zack Orcutt run)
EB – Casey DeAndrade 71 kickoff return (pass failed)