FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When the papers are dropped on the doorsteps in Mashpee Sunday morning, the headlines will extol Jarod Taylor’s game.
His electric running and school-record 306-yard performance will be written in bold, italics and capital letters in the record books. In 20 years, the legend of his performance will grow to include sub-zero temperatures and a broken leg.
He deserves every bit of it after carrying the Falcons to their first Super Bowl title.
And all who were there will know who truly orchestrated Mashpee’s dream season.
Often buried in the box scores but never in importance, senior quarterback Zak Orcutt provided the spark and guidance the Falcons needed to dominate Cardinal Spellman, 34-8, and capture the Eastern Mass. Division 4 championship Saturday at Gillette Stadium.
“He runs the show,” coach Matt Triveri said of Orcutt, who finished with 41 yards rushing, 34 yards passing and a touchdown reception. “He’s an undervalued guy. If he threw the ball 30 times a game, he could throw for 250 yards a game, he’s that sort of kid. He is the barometer both ways, offensively and defensively, one of the better safeties around. He’s the guy who stirs the drink for us.”
With 1,100-yard rusher Jordan Keli’inui unavailable to carry the ball with an ankle injury, Taylor (three touchdowns) shouldered the load for the run-heavy Falcons (13-0), who rumbled to 438 total yards of offense.
But it was Orcutt who put his neck on the line — literally — to spark them in a first-half defensive battle.
After the teams traded fruitless drives like trading cards in the first quarter, Orcutt helped orchestrate a nearly 7 ½-minute drive, putting the Falcons into the red zone with a 14-yard pass to Larry Green. But when Mashpee came up empty, leaving them two yards out on fourth down, Orcutt ran a bootleg to the right, charging toward the right pylon with the defense closing in.
Leaping at the last second, he was hit by two defenders, spinning him in the air and out of play. As he came down — the ball over the goal line but out of bounds — he slammed into the ground head first, snapping his neck awkwardly from the impact.
Orcutt immediately shot up, only to see the referee waving off the play.
“I probably should have just lowered my head and tried to get that extra yard, but instincts took over and I jumped,” said Orcutt, who thought he had gotten the touchdown initially — and after he saw the replay. “But you can’t get all the calls.”
He didn’t have to wait long for another chance. After Mashpee forced a three-and-out and returned a punt to the 20, it was Orcutt who hauled in the Falcons’ first score, pulling in a floating pass from second-string quarterback Cody Bingham-Hendricks right in front of a Spellman defender as time expired in the half.
“Zak Orcutt’s probably one of the better athletes in all of Eastern Mass.,” Triveri said. “He’s going to go get that football nine of 10 times. With 3 seconds left, we had one play, and that was the play we wanted to run.”
It jolted the Falcons into the second half, where on the first play of the third, Taylor shed a handful of tackles en route to a 58-yard score.
Mashpee never looked back.
“Zak, he tried to keep us together,” Taylor said. “I like to say Zac Orcutt is an inspiration to everyone.”
Orcutt even added a tip-toe interception along the sideline with four minutes left in the third to all but end Spellman‘s hopes. But that’s par for the course for the safety, who also had two picks in the Falcons’ semifinal victory.
“We wouldn’t be here without him,” Triveri said, pointing to 17 tackles Orcutt made in a crucial 16-6 win over East Bridgewater on Veterans Day. “He’s the reason we’re here. The one and only reason, if you had to choose one guy.”