FALMOUTH, Mass. – BC High’s defense had done well to keep Falmouth running back Nelson Baptiste quiet for most of Friday night’s game.
The Eagles held Baptiste to a pedestrian six carries for 26 yards. But it was Baptiste’s 34-yard game-winning touchdown catch that did all the talking.
“That’s fourth down. That’s everything. That’s our whole season,” a loquacious and emotional Baptiste said after the Clippers’ win. “That’s my senior year. I know I have to make that catch, we have to win this game and bring it home.”
When the 6-foot, 180-pounder fell backward into the end zone, after leaping over a team of Eagles defenders, bobbling the ball and then finally securing the touchdown pass from Dillon Mansfield, it wasn’t the only amazing element to the play.
The play call came on fourth and seven. Falmouth had attempted just three passes up to that point, none were completed and two ended in interceptions. With field conditions resembling those of a Southeast Asian rice paddy because of torrential downpours throughout the day, Clippers head coach Steve Femino had the fortitude to make a tough decision.
It paid off to the tune of a 20-15 victory for No. 13 Falmouth, which for the second straight year took a surprising win over the fifth-ranked Eagles.
“We noticed earlier in the game they were real aggressive,” said Femino, who has the Clippers off to a 4-0 start in his first season. “They were trying to jump him when he was shallow, but we wheeled him down the sideline and Dillon [Mansfield] put it in the one spot that he could come down with it.”
BC High (2-2) carried play in the first half with junior running back Preston Cooper carrying the load.
Cooper racked up 18 carries for 101 yards with two touchdowns and a two-point conversion to his credit at the half. Coupled with runs from fullback Luke Catarius (12 carries, 71 yards), the Eagles possessed the ball for the majority of the first half. Falmouth ran just seven offensive plays before heading to the locker room down 15-0.
“Coming out in the second half, we really just needed to start completing our blocks,” Clippers senior running back Bobby Whelan said. “Their linebackers were blowing up the plays. Coach went over the reads; nobody was making the right reads. We got our blocks down and everything worked out. The option was really working in the second half.”
Whelan (14 carries, 110 yards, TD) kicked off the second half, marching Falmouth down the field on a 15-play, 70-yard drive which culminated in his 1-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to nine points.
On the ensuing BC High drive, junior cornerback Devon Soares came up with his first of two game-changing interceptions.
“He looked off the other way and then came back my way, I knew the ball was coming,” said Soares whose second pick came with a minute remaining in the game to stop a potential BC High comeback.
With the ball back in their hands, the Clippers struck again on Mansfield’s 7-yard touchdown run.
It was time for one more defensive stand. The Eagles went three and out. Falmouth had the ball back with 4:54 remaining.
The Clippers embarked on their final drive with good field position, starting at their own 48-yard line. But the drive nearly stalled at the Eagles 34.
That's when the Femino went all-in.
“I loved it,” Whelan said of Femino’s play call to go for it on fourth down. “Dillon [Mansfield] threw two interceptions, so BC High was probably [thinking] like they’re not going to pass it.
“So coming out, Coach showed his heart. He believed in Dillon and we all did.”
While the Clippers didn’t have an advantage in sheer numbers — Falmouth dressed only 36 players for the game — there was no question about heart.
“Everybody thought we were going to get blown out,” Baptiste said. “We just wanted to show the whole state how we play.”