There was no “moral” victory Friday night in Reading, said Belmont Head Coach Yann Kumin after Marauders’ hard-fought, defeat at the hands of last year’s Super Bowl finalist, 47-21,
“We played a hard-fought game, and we’re excited about it. But we live in the real world, and there are no moral victories, we believe in victories, and this was a loss. We stood tall tonight, and that was great,” said Kumin.
The game under the lights was a sea change from the games played between the two rivals in the past decade.
In the first two years of Kumin’s tenure, Reading outscored Belmont 98-0. With a minute to go in the half on Friday, Oct. 7, Belmont trailed the hometown Rockets, 24-21, each team scoring three touchdowns. A late Reading score gave the home team a 32-21 half-time lead.
“We got a great football team and to have a 10 point game at the half against this team at their home, it proves that we are not going back to the days when we lost the first half by 42 points,” said Kumin.
This match-up between the long-time Super Bowl contender against the new team was not going to follow the normal script when on Belmont’s first play from scrimmage as senior RB Ben Jones found a gap in the defense and scooted 70 yards for a Belmont touchdown and a shock 7-0.
But Reading would take the lead on two plays – its long run of 67 yards by Corey DiLoreto and a 75-yard punt return from Jack Geiger – going up 16-7 after only three minutes.
But it was Belmont that showed it could not only halt Reading’s offense but on its next possession, use a combination of runs – using junior fullback Adam Deese on quick handoffs – and passes to march down the field where senior quarterback Cal Christofori found junior wide receiver Jake Pollock for a 17-yard touchdown with 20 seconds in the quarter, cutting the lead to 16-14.
The Marauders continued the momentum it had in the first by closing down the Rockets on the first drive and with runs by Jones and a 10-yard catch to sophomore Jared Edwards the Marauder offense took the ball to the Reading 40. But the drive ended when a Christofori pass went off the hands of the receiver and was picked off by senior Nick DiNapoli who returned the ball deep into Marauder territory with the Rockets scoring a short time after to retain a 24-14 lead.
But the drive ended when a Christofori pass went off the hands of the receiver and was picked off by senior Nick DiNapoli who returned the ball deep into Marauder territory with the Rockets scoring a short time after to retain a 24-14 lead.
But the setback was pushed aside as a long run by Jones, a pass interference call against Reading and a 33-yard pass from Christofori to senior wideout Dylan Ferdinand put the ball on the Rockets three-yard line. Jones then swept around the right end to bring Belmont to within three points, 24-21 with 80 seconds left in half. But it took the Rockets only 45 seconds to score its fourth touchdown in the half on a 35-yard pass from senior QB Corey DiLoreto to DiNapoli.
After the half, the Belmont offense could not find the momentum it had earlier in the game and two long Reading drives, mostly runs based on the quarterback option, allowed the Rockets to score two additional touchdowns to secure a victory in front of a small home crowd.
“But I am proud of our guys. They fought to the last whistle. They played a great football game, and we are excited to take on Winchester at Harris,” said Kumin.