Photo: Joe Shaughnessy catches an eight-yard pass from Cal Christofori for a touchdown against Masco.
For the third time this season, Belmont High School’s football team came close, really close, to pulling out a fourth quarter comeback in front of the Harris Field home crowd.
But just like games against Woburn and Lexington, the Marauders could not convert late game critical short third and fourth down plays against visiting Masconomet Regional High School and fell, 20-17, to the Chieftans in the final home game of the season on Friday, Nov. 13.
“Tough game because we had a couple of great opportunities late to take the lead,” said Yann Kuman, Belmont’s head coach after the game.
After making a series of stops on defense, including a blocked fourth-down pass by senior Justin Wagner with 2:27 left in the fourth quarter to give Belmont the ball on the Marauders’ 8 yard line, Belmont held the momentum after QB Cal Christofori threw three completions to senior wide receivers Trey Butler (two catches for 11 and 13 yards) and Joe Shaughnessy. An eight-yard run by injured running back Mahki Johnson put the ball on Belmont’s 47 yard line with a little less than two minutes remaining.
But the final drive stalled on Masco’s 48 as a pair of runs and two passes, including an attempt to Butler on fourth and five, could only gain five yards.
Belmont began the game allowing the Chieftains to march down field uncontested in just under two minutes to take the lead, 6-0, on a 20 yard run by running back Dan Strow, the first of his three TDs.
“Our biggest thing is coming out the gate with with some urgency and some speed. If we do that this is a very different game. That first drive we decided they were just going to walk down the field and score. There was very little we can do to keep us in ball games when that is our first drive,” said Kuman.
Belmont came back with a steady diet of running plays with Johnson and junior Ben Jones and a 14-yard pass from Christofori to Wagner to put the ball on Masco’s 8 yard line for Christofori hit a diving Shaughnessy at the plyon to give Belmont a 7-6 lead with 2 minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Despite big stops by Butler and Hasset, Belmont could not make a fourth down stop and soon Strow dove in for his and Masco’s second touchdown of the half, and a 12-7 lead as Noonan stopped the Chieftain’s running back on the two-point c0nversion.
After Christofori was intercepted by Masco on its 10 yard line, Belmont’s defense stepped it up, holding the Chieftains to no yards on three plays before Butler deflected the subsequant punt to give Belmont the ball on the 17. But the Marauder offense stalled which saw kicker Aiden Cadogan make a 30-yard field goal to cut the lead to 12-10 at the half.
After holding Belmont on its first drive of the second half, Masco took six minutes off the clock as it ran the ball effectivley ending with Strow running in from five yards out with three minutes remaining in the third. The two-point PAT was successful and gave the Chieftains a 20-10 lead.
Belmont went back to the Johnson/Jones running combination before Christofori scrambled and found Jones in the flats with a swing pass and the junior sprinted 30 yards to the Masco 6. Jones would score at 8:29 remaining to cut the lead to 20-17.
The Marauders halted Masco at midfield forcing a punt. But a missed handoff and a great defensive play forced Belmont to punt with 3:49 to go. That’s when Belmont D stood tall leading to the final drive.
Kuman said preparation for the annual Thanksgiving Day game, at Watertown this year, in 13 days, is to play with urgency and pace against the Raiders which lost a sectional final against Stoneham.
“That will be a focus for us going into Watertown is coming out of the game fast with commitment,” said Kuman.