Belmont Football Off The Mark In Opener, Falls To Wakefield, 21-10

Photo: The Belmont High football team runs onto the field for the season opener vs. Wakefield.

It was a perfect night for the first football game of the Belmont High football season: A Friday night under the lights, the weather fall-like cool and clear with a Harvest full moon and before a hyped up student section at Harris Field.

But it was also Friday the 13th and all the bad luck of that day hovered over the Belmont sideline as the home team never got on track on both sides of the ball as a young Wakefield High squad came away with a big win, 21-10.

“I really feel like we took ourselves out of that football game more than anything else,” said Belmont’s head coach Yann Kumin after the game.

President Kennedy is reported to have said after the Bay of Pigs fiasco: “victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.” In Belmont’s opener, it would fair to say that both sides of the ball could claim parental custody of this loss.

On the offensive side, Belmont’s running game never got into gear while its passing attack lacked the consistency needed to spread out the Warriors defense.

“Offensively, we just have to execute more than anything else. We can’t shoot ourselves in the foot,” said Kumin. “We have to try to catch the ball, try to hit holes and execute on the offensive line. And these are the things that didn’t happen tonight.”

Offense highlights were few and far between. Senior Hampton Trout scored Belmont’s first points of the season hitting a second-quarter 43-yard field goal that would have been good from 50 plus yards. And running back Chad Francis finally found the right edge and raced 84 yards to cut the deficit to 14-10 just before the half.

The defense “dominated” said Kumin, containing the Warriors in the first 24 minutes with several sacks while containing the running game.

But it was two big first-half plays with the defense off the field by Wakefield’s Wesley Pierre that put Belmont behind the eight ball at halftime.

On its second possession, Belmont was facing a 4th and 5 from the 24-yard line when senior QB Avery Arno’s pass over the middle was intercepted by a late-breaking Pierre who took the ball 65 yards to the Belmont 15 yard line with a little more than a minute to play in the first quarter. Belmont’s defense suddenly struggled to contain Wakefield which would convert a 3rd and 7 from the 12 and would score one play later on a 4 yard run by RB Tucker Stikeman early in the second.

Pierre’s second highlight reel moment came on the kickoff after Trout’s field goal cut the lead to 7-3. After a booming kick, it appeared Belmont’s special team had hemmed in Pierre along the right sideline. But a quick pivot to the left and Pierre would scamper 95 yards for the TD to up the score to 14-3 midway through the second quarter.

While Belmont’s defense was mostly stellar in the first half, Wakefield offense would turn the tables on the Marauders in the second as it moved down the field with some ease. Despite its first drive ending with a fumble inside the Belmont 10 yard line, the second would not be halted as Wakefield would concentrate on running sweeps with Stikeman rushing for his second TD midway through the third quarter to up its lead to 21-10.

Without the dominating running attack from last season and pass attempts off the mark or dropped, a hoped-for Marauder comeback the crowd was anticipating never materialized.

“We got a lot of new starters this year so it’s just a question of consistency. So that’s what we’re going to do over the next couple weeks is try to move our consistency to the next level and get ready to go into the week,” said Kumin.

Due to a cancellation by teams Belmont had expected to play, the Marauders will next be on the field on Friday, Sept. 27 vs. Reading at Harris Field. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.

After Nightmare Start, Belmont Football Freeze Outs Watertown, 33-20, On Turkey Day

Photo: Belmont’s Senior RB Kilian O’Connell finishing off the scoring in Belmont’s 33-20 victory over Watertown.

After surrendering three touchdowns in the first two minutes of the 98th edition of the Turkey Day tussle with Watertown, the Belmont High football team was asked to complete a 13th Herculean task; to climb back from the nightmare start with its holiday archrival and accomplish one of its main goals this season and win on Thanksgiving.

“It was a rough start, no doubt about it,” said Belmont Head Coach Yann Kumin. “But we have a football team that hasn’t quit this year and they weren’t today.”

After falling behind 20-0, Belmont (5-6) rode its impressive running attack to five consecutive touchdowns while a dominating defense shut out Watertown (4-7) for the game’s remaining 41 minutes as the Marauders overpowered the Raiders, 33-20, ending a six-game Thanksgiving Day losing streak on the coldest holiday observance in more than a century.

A touchdown by senior running back Rhaki Joseph and two from his backfield partner senior Kilian O’Connell coupled with a pair by junior QB Avery Arno including the go-ahead score on the first play of the fourth quarter nullified Watertown’s first quarter onslaught. 

After being blitzed by Watertown, Belmont’s defensive front seven – led by seniors Sam Sagherian, Kamyar Nouri and Connor Shea, junior Ryan Hoffman and junior standout Derek Brown along with linebackers senior Mike Delhome and junior Ryan Santoro – kept the Watertown offense which came into the match on a three-game winning streak under wraps. 

“They did a great job up front the entire game,” said Kumin. 

While ultimately winning the game, Belmont could not have placed themselves further behind the 8-ball than it did to start the game. A pair of squib kicks bounced off two Marauder up men resulting in an “oops” touchdown when Watertown senior Mange Camara picked up a fumble to ran untouched for six followed by a three-yard rush by sophomore David Manoukian. A hard tackle off a pop-up kickoff saw Watertown gain the ball again. On the next play Camara sneaking behind the Belmont defensive backs to score off a pass from QB Nick McDermott. Five offensive plays, three touchdowns.

But rather than see the start as a disaster in the making, Kumin said Watertown’s unconventional kickoffs were “a good thing because it showed that they were nervous to give us the ball.”

“We knew once we had the ball in our hands, our game plan was going to be hard to stop,” he said.

On Belmont’s second play from scrimmage, Joseph found a hole in the line than rounded the corner and with an outstanding block by senior wide receiver Jared Edwards danced down the right sideline 61 yards to put Belmont on the board as the bundled-up crowd saw four touchdowns in the game’s first three minutes and nine seconds.

After the monster start, the Raiders found themselves bottled up for the rest of the first half, with Belmont defensive backs created a coverage sack on McDermott finished by Nouri and Sagherian and a big sack on the quarterback by senior co-captain Delhome to finish off the Watertown drive.  

On the subsequent possession that began on Belmont’s three-yard line, O’Connell romped for 23 and 27 yards on consecutive plays to bring the ball deep into Watertown territory. On fourth down and three from the 26 and with Belmont showing a four-receiver set, Arno faked the pass and with a critical block by Santoro ran through a Watertown tackle for Belmont’s second touchdown with 6:31 showing in the second quarter.

In the true meaning of the saying “what comes around, goes around,” on the subsequent kickoff, junior Hampton Trout’s kick hit the back of a Watertown player and was recovered by the Marauders. A play after O’Connell broke tackles for 23 yards to the Watertown 12, the senior running back recovered from running into Arno during the handoff and sprinted 12 yards to the end zone to tie the game at 20 at 4:17 before halftime.

Watertown began the third quarter on the march as McDermott broke the Raiders’ longest run, 31 yards to the Belmont 39 as Belmont’s 20 put on a touchdown-preventing tackle. But with a first down on the Belmont 27, Belmont’s defense rose to the occasion as Brown took down McDermott for a five-yard loss and Delhome disrupted a screen pass for limited yards. A Watertown miscue on the center/QB exchange on fourth down ended the threat.

Belmont took over and methodically ran the ball – Arno would not attempt a pass during the game – down the field, eating up nearly eight minutes and scored on the first play of the fourth quarter on an Arno one-yard sneak. 

Watertown began its next drive with consecutive first downs only to see another exchange mistake go over McDermott’s head leaving the Raiders in a deep hole before punting. 

With six minutes to go, Belmont gave the ball right back to the Raiders on a fumble. But a sack by Brown – who has become one of the best defensive linemen in the Middlesex League this year – on first down led on a fourth down and nine and tight coverage by junior Justin Rocha stuffed out a Watertown drive once again. The coup de grâce came one play after Joseph rumbled 32 yards to Watertown’s one as O’Connell kicked to the outside to run unchallenged for his second touchdown. 

After taking a well deserved but ill-advised victory bucket of water on a day the temperature didn’t rise above 17 degrees, Yumin was emotional – or just freezing – talking about the squad’s total effort in the game and for the season.

“Never gave up. I’m so proud of this group of players,” he said.

Photos by Lisa Sotir.

Belmont Football Just Short In First Playoff Game, 50-35; Burlington At Home Friday

Photo: Belmont senior RB Rhaki Joseph on the run.

When Danvers’ Matt McCarthy intercepted Belmont’s Avery Arno’s pass and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown (McCarthy’s fourth time into the end zone) early in the third quarter to make the score 43-6 in favor of the host Falcons in the first round of the Division 3 North football playoffs, it could have easily been the time for the Marauders to pack it in for the night. 

“Ninety-nine out of 100 teams would have walked off the field and thrown in the towel. Ninety-nine out of 100 defenses would have checked out,” said Belmont Head Coach Yann Kumin after the game.

But for Belmont, the night would not end after a half.

“I want to play more football and so do you,” said Kumin as Belmont would score four touchdowns against Danvers’ at times porous defense while the Marauders defense allowed a single sustained scoring drive by the Falcons to erase a blowout and make it a game Falcons had to earn, 50-35. 

“We have never been here before,” said Kumin as Friday’s game was Belmont first-ever playoff game under the MIAA postseason system established four years ago. Every journey is a long road “and this game takes us one step closer to our goal. This [playoff trip] was no small accomplishment and we know in our hearts that we were just two possessions away from winning this game.”

“Be proud of how we got here and we have three more weeks of football left,” he said. 

Belmont (3-5) will now host Middlesex League rival Burlington High (5-3) on Friday, Nov. 2 at 6 p.m. at Harris Field. Burlington was upset by visiting Wayland on Friday in the first round of the Division 4 North sectionals. The Devils (5-3) is led by senior running back Jake Doherty who ran for 346 rushing yards and four touchdowns against Wilmington earlier in October.

It was a classic game of two half with Danvers which raced off to a 5-0 start to the season before losing its star quarterback Brendan Treacy for a pair of games – both losses – to a reported violation of a school policy. The hosts dominated the game with Treacy particularly successful through the air (252 yards, a pair of touchdowns) as the Marauders defensive line held its own against the Falcon’s ground attack. 

Treacy scored from two yards out after a three-minute opening drive. Belmont picked up a first down on an Arno to senior receiver Jared Edwards completion to Belmont’s 40 but the drive stalled on the next set of downs. McCarthy scored his first TD of the night on a 43-yard scamper with two minutes remaining in the first. The Falcon’s third score of the quarter came with some controversy as Danvers receiver Ezra Lombardi shoved Edwards who was in coverage along the right sideline to grab a bomb from Treacy for a 90 yard TD.

Belmont got on the scoreboard on a nifty drive that included one of several unsportsmanlike penalties on Danvers with senior RB Rhaki Joseph taking it 18 yards up the gut with 8:59 remaining in the second quarter. 

But Danvers’ McCarthy would end the Falcons’ final two drives in the first half, the first a 15-yard rushing TD followed by an outstanding 16-yard catch between two Belmont defenders in the corner of the right end zone with 58 seconds remaining to extend the lead to 35-6 at the half. 

“We must be faster in making our adjustments [to what Danvers is doing],” said Kumin. “We went into the half knowing what we had to do and it was successful. We just have to do our [changes] on the fly,” he said.

The overhaul of Belmont’s play calling to an in-your-face attacking offense showed immediate results in the third as Joseph scored his second touchdown (and the two-point conversion) soon to be followed by a 32-yard scamper by senior running back Kilian O’Connell, both assisted by a myriad of penalties.

A failed onside kick late in the third allowed Danvers to work with a short field and they capitalized when running back Jack Strangie scored on a 10-yard run early in the fourth quarter. Despite being down by 29, Belmont’s offense continued to take the game to the Falcons as Joseph powered in from three yards out for his third TD of the night with 7:23 remaining.
Belmont’s defense stopped Danvers on a third and 4 with 2:40 left and the offense steamrolled its way into the end zone as Arno found senior wide receiver Mike Delhome on a 31-yard pass and catch with just less than a minute to play in the game. But offsides on an attempted onside kick ended the night and the playoff run for the Marauders. 
But for Kunin, the game is part of the progress he has seen in the program over the past few years, coming from losing seasons up to where Belmont was four minutes away in its game against Arlington last week from hosting a playoff game. 

“I’m proud of this team. These guys didn’t quit and they wouldn’t let me quit,” he said.

Trout FG Gives Belmont 17-14 OT Win Over Winchester

Photo: Belmont High’s kicker Hampton Trout hits the game-winning field goal in overtime to defeat Winchester.

Belmont High’s kicker Hampton Trout just hoped he would get a second opportunity to decide the game with Winchester after his 43-yard attempt sailed wide left as time ran out with the score knotted at 14. And when the Belmont defense stuffed Wilmington on its attempt to score in overtime, Trout got that chance to play hero with a 19-yard attempt.

“Everyone was coming up to me yelling ‘You got this, you got this’ and it getting into my head a little bit. But when I got out there and took my three steps back from where I was going to kick it, I knew it was going in,” said the junior kicker who was having a great night with a pair of touchbacks on kickoffs and punts that twice flew and rolled for more than 50 yards.

And Trout didn’t disappoint, splitting the uprights to defeat the Sachems in the first overtime, 17-14, on Friday, Oct. 5 to put Belmont (3-2, 1-2 in the league) in the driver’s seat for its first trip in the program’s history to the MIAA Division 3 North playoffs.

“While I practice as a wide receiver and quarterback, I stay after practice to work in my kickoffs and punting. And it really made a difference tonight,” said Trout whose exploits earned him the game ball.

The win against Winchester (3-2, 2-1) both a Middlesex Liberty Division and Division 3 North rival, 

“These guys worked so hard that they deserved this win,” said Belmont Head Coach Yann Kumin who was his ecstatic self when Trout’s kick went through the uprights. 

Under the Friday night lights, Belmont’s defense shined as it put the clamps on the high scoring Winchester offense led by DB and co-captain Jared Edwards who slapped away numerous attempts directed at his side while junior Justin Rocha continued his outstanding all-around play. And it was a big night for the big men led by junior defensive lineman Derrick Brown who garnered two-and-a-half sacks and a number of hurries on Winchester QB Tony Fiorentino while marshaling the D-line and putting the clamps on running backs Brendan Curran and Jakob Flores.

“I’m really proud of the defense. I threw the gauntlet down about our defense being physical and doing great work. We felt we were pretty physical against Reading but we gave up too many big plays. Today we only gave up two so we know we have something going on defensively,” said Kumin.

Offensively, Belmont’s vaunted ground game was finding it hard to get a rhythm going, but it only needed a fortunate bounce to get on the scoreboard. 

Junior QB Avery Arno fumbled the ball that hit off the turf and straight into RB Rhaki Joseph’s hands. The senior running back continued the play, sweeping around the left end where Edwards had the key block and into the clear along the sideline for a 49-yard second quarter touchdown.

“The ball bounced up like it’s supposed to. That’s how we drew that one up,”said Kuman, who pointed to the heavens in silent thanks as Joseph scored.

On an unfortunate note, the game was halted for 20 minutes after a Winchester player suffered a severe lower-body injury requiring him to be taken by ambulance for treatment.

Belmont nearly took the one touchdown lead into the half, but an Arno pass into double coverage was picked off at the Belmont 47 with just more than two minutes left. After a 15-yard penalty put the Sachems behind the 8 ball with a fourth down and 12 at the 39 with 16 seconds left, Fiorentino found Matt Romagna with a perfect pass for the touchdown.

After a defensive third quarter, Winchester began its one sustained drive in the game after recovering a Belmont fumble at the 48-yard line. The Sachems were resourceful, converting a pair of third and fours, survived a sack from senior interior linebacker Sam Harris and Brown.

After allowing an 18-yard pass completion on a 4th down and 15 that put the ball on the 10-yard line, the Belmont defense came through forcing a 4th down on the 5. The subsequent field goal attempt by Fiorentino was blocked by Harris.

After taking the ball on the 20, Belmont faced a 3rd and 8 from its own 22, when Aron hit Johnson with a swing pass looking for a short gain. As defenders Johnson exploded through a small opening inside then quick stepped it outside and sailed down right sidelines for a 78-yard touchdown with 7:22 remaining.

But the Sachems came straight back with a perfect pass action which saw Romagna romp 45 yards to the Belmont 5. The Sachems tied the score on a third down and inches plunge by Fiorentino with 3:28 left in the fourth quarter.

Belmont would keep the ball for nearly the remainder of the quarter, mixing runs and passes to Edwards to give Trout his first chance at winning the game. Despite the miss, Kumin had a feeling that his team would take home the win. 

 “I knew our defense wouldn’t make it easy for them to score so we had a chance,” said Kumin.

After last Saturday’s games, Belmont sits in third of the eight playoff places with two games remaining, insuring a home postseason game. Next Saturday, Belmont travels to 4-1 Lexington for a Saturday afternoon Prep School style tussle on the Minuteman’s grass field before ending the scheduled season against Arlington, currently at 1-4.

Watertown Airs It Out To Down Belmont, 35-16, in 97th Thanksgiving Game

Photo: Belmont senior Will Ellet defended by Watertown’s John Korte. (photo by Ian Findlay)

The formula Watertown High Raiders used Thanksgiving morning to get by crosstown rival Belmont in the annual Turkey Day contest was relatively simple: find wide receiver John Korte and throw it to him.

And that tactic worked as the tall senior – the 6’5″ Korte is expected to be the Raiders’ starting center this upcoming hoops season – scored three times via junior quarterback Nick McDermott while making a handful of clutch catches to lead the Raiders over the Marauders, 35-16, in the 97th edition of the rivalry held at Victory Field.

“The defense was pretty stout through most of this game especially against the run from our linebackers and ends,” said Belmont’s Head Coach Yann Kumin after the game. “But I also thought we missed some opportunities on offense. Plays were there, but we didn’t execute. All credit to [Watertown Head Coach] John [Cacace]. They … played a great game,” said Kumin.

Watertown ends the season at 7-5 including some major silverware, the Division 5 North Sectional title and one win from a Superbowl appearance. Belmont finished the campaign at 2-9, coming close in some games but falling short. 

While Belmont’s defense was able to keep Watertown’s ground game in check for three-quarters of the game, it was just a step behind when the Raiders took to the air with Korte its most lethal weapon. Watertown scored on the opening (at 8:23), and closing (2:31) drives of the first quarter with Korte scoring from 48 and 46 yards.

There were a number of stellar plays in the first half by Belmont’s defense including a drive stopping run blitz tackle by senior linebacker Adam Deese on a third down and short deep in Marauder territory late in the first quarter and a timely sack of McDermott by sophomore lineman Derrick Bow followed by sophomore Justin Rocha’s breaking up a McDermott pass. Both drives ended in missed field goals by senior Conor Kennelly.

Offensively, Belmont’s usually accurate senior quarterback George Fitzgerald was a little off target especially in the first half when Belmont could not sustain its drives. The Marauders did get a boost from the punting of senior Aidan Cadogan who booted 53 and 45-yard punts on the day. Despite a muffed punt deep in Belmont’s end with less than a minute to play in half, the Marauders’ forced a field goal attempt that Kennelly hooked wide in the final seconds. 

After halftime – which saw the Belmont High Marching Band perform its “Gold” routine for a final time – it appeared Watertown was heading for another score after forcing yet another Belmont punt after a three and out. But a fumble recovery near midfield put a spark in Belmont’s offense, and it smartly drove downfield finishing with senior running back Tyler Reynolds turning the right corner and scampering for the TD from six yards out with five minutes left in the third to cut the lead in half, 14-7.

But Watertown quickly upped the lead back to two touchdowns as senior running back Matthew Muldrew scored the first of his brace from two yards out with 2:53 remaining on a series that began with a 40-yard completion between McDermott and Korte to increase the lead to 21-7. The Raiders would mix it up on its next drive with short strikes by McDermott and running plays that saw Muldrew score again with about eight minutes remaining in the game. 

Despite the score, Belmont kept plugging away on its next series, keyed by a great 45-yard catch by senior Jake Pollack to the Watertown 5 yard line and culminating in Fitzgerald finding junior wide receiver Dijuan Moore for the touchdown. The two-point conversion attempt failed by less than a length of the football to make the score 28-13. 

Korte who put the explanation mark on his game with his third TD, a 40-yard pitch and catch with McDermott.

In a nice gesture, Belmont sent out three-year starter Cadigan to finish his career with a 35-yard field goal with 49 seconds remaining in the game to end the scoring at 35-16. 

“One of our problems all season was being susceptible to the big play and it happened here,” said Kumin. 

Belmont Football Ends Frustration Running By Cambridge, 28-21

Photo: Tyler Reynolds on his game-winning TD run vs. Cambridge.

Seven weeks of frustration for Belmont High Football came to an end on a last minute 40-yard touchdown dash by senior running back Tyler Reynolds gave the Marauders a 28-21 victory over host Cambridge Rindge and Latin School on Friday night, Oct. 27.

Reynold’s sprint – sprung by a critical block from senior wide receiver Luke Hopkins – up the gut of the Falcon’s defense with 59 seconds remaining came after Cambridge tied the score at 21 with 4 minutes remaining, negating a Belmont 21-7 halftime lead. 

“Even when [Cambridge] tied it back up in the fourth quarter, my O line kept blocking for me. Then we scored, it was the best feeling in the world,” Reynolds told the Belmontonian after the game.

“Even after all the adversity we’ve faced to go 0 and 7 in our first seven games to come out and win this game on the road just shows a lot about what we do here and all the heart this team has,” said Reynolds. 

“I’m so proud of these guys. They never quit, not in our previous games and not here when they tied it up late in the fourth [quarter],” said Belmont Head Coach Yann Kumin, whose team piled up 408 yards in total offense, most of that on the ground.

Belmont (1-7) is on the road again Friday as they take on Burlington (1-7) which won its first game of the season Friday, 21-20, over Revere. 

Held at Russell Field in the Alewife neighborhood, Belmont’s game plan changed from a pass-oriented system to pounding the ball at the Falcons’ after both Reynolds and junior back Killian O’Connell took “huge chunks of yards” on the initial offensive series, Kumin said.

“We were really anticipating to be that heavy in the run. But we came out, and it was clicking. So we said ‘forget the plan’ and keep feeding them the ball,” said Kumin.

Reynold’s scored the game’s first in the first quarter before Cambridge lit up the scoreboard with a 50-yard over the top reception by Cyrus Singh from QB Jovan Harding

In the second half, Belmont relied on junior back Killian O’Connell who scored a pair of TDs, from 19 yards and from 6 yards with 40 seconds remaining in the half to increase Belmont’s lead to 14 points.

Belmont was on the march again until midway through the third quarter when they fumbled the ball. Cambridge would capitalize through the air as Lucona grabbed his second TD pass from 11 yards out to cut the Marauder lead to 21-14 with 2:46 left in the third quarter. 

After a Belmont punt, Cambridge was on the move when sophomore outside linebacker Justin Rocha recovered a fumble on the Cambridge 28 with 6 minutes left in the game. But an attempted field goal from 30 yards out by senior kicker Aidan Cadogan hit the right upright with 5:41 remaining. And it was that man Lucona who grabbed a simple sideline pass and scampered 63 yards before scoring on the next play on an 11-yard catch to tie the game at 21 with 4:31 left.

Taking over at the 10 yard line, Belmont converted a third and five (on a 15 yard pass from senior QB George Fitzgerald to senior wide receiver Jake Pollard) and a fourth and four on a Reynolds’ 11 yard carry one play before the senior co-captain took the ball to the house for the winning score. 

After Loss in League Opener, Belmont Football Readies for Reading Thursday

Photo: The Belmont defensive line.

Belmont High School Football Head Coach Yann Kumin will be looking for the offensive line to spring the running game as the Marauders play host to the Reading High Rockets on Thursday, Sept. 28 at 6 p.m.

The game was pushed up a day from the traditional Friday Night start due to the Jewish High Holiday of Yom Kippur that begins Friday at sunset.

Kumin is looking to build a balanced attack as Belmont seeks its first victory of the season after going 0-3, losing it’s Middlesex League opener last week to an improving Woburn team, 27-14.

“We were excited to run the ball and they got a little blitz happy on us and we could not take advantage of that until later in the game,” said Kumin. 

“I thought we threw the ball decently but we have to balance our offense,” he said after the Woburn game.

“Going into the Reading game, we have to be able to consistently run the ball for positive yardage” in what Kumin described as “the dirty areas” in the middle of the field. 

As with the previous two games against Milton and Framingham, Belmont’s defense was able to play competitively against strong offenses. But the Marauders’ offense in each of the three games could not find its rhythm until the final half. By then, it was attempting to climb out of a very deep hole. 

Senior running back Tyler Reynolds scored both touchdowns last week, the first a 77 yard gallop up the gut of the defense with seconds to play in the third quarter and the second a five-yard plunge with 49 seconds to play. 

Reading (2-1) is coming off its first loss of the season, a 41-21 drubbing by Lexington. For the Marauders, it will be up to keeping the ball for as much time as possible with a mix of runs and passes for the hosts to stay in the game.

“We’re excited to be meeting Reading again after last year’s game when we kept it close for most of the game there,” said Kumin.

Sports: Belmont Football Edged In Home Opener, 20-14, by Framingham

Photo: Belmont’s fullback Adam Deese leads running back Tyler Reynolds late in Friday’s game vs. Framingham.

Last Friday night’s home opener for Belmont High football squad had all the appearance of the last second, nail-biting victory for the Marauders. 

With 11 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter in a 20-14 game, Belmont had driven nearly 90 yards in five minutes to the Framingham High School Flyers 6 yard line and faced a fourth down and one yard to go. 

But senior quarterback George Fitzgerald’s pass skimmed just over the fingertips of his receiver for an incompletion, allowing Framingham to secure its first 2-0 record in more than a decade while Marauders left the field at 0-2, having dropped last week’s season opener, 28-7, against a tough Milton High School team.

“First and foremost, that was a great football game. It was fun to coach in and fun for everyone to watch,” said Belmont’s fourth year Head Coach Yann Kumin.

“We’re not satisfied being on the short end of a close game … with an opportunity to score. We just need not shot ourselves in the foot. We turned the ball over twice in the first half, and one led to a score.” 

Friday night’s game, which began 45 minutes late due to traffic that delayed Framingham arrival to Harris Field, saw Belmont’s defense spring to action with four takeaways including three interceptions of Framingham’s sophomore QB Jack Beverly. Leading the D-backs was senior Joe Viale who came up with a monster game including a pair of picks and a half dozen times breaking up certain completions.

It was Framingham’s ability to strike on special teams that proved the difference in the game as the Flyers were able to gain vital yards on kickoffs and punt returns. The game started with Flyers’ Christian Alicea returned the opening kick to Belmont’s 8-yard line. 

After Belmont’s defense held and took over the ball at the 18, Fitzgerald was sacked on third down and apparently fumbled the ball despite appearing being down in contact with the turf. Flyer junior Chidi Nna recovered the loose ball for a TD after less than three minutes into the game. 

Belmont’s second drive ended on a fumble at midfield but the Marauders to over on Vitale’s first interception. Late in the first quarter, Belmont’s senior Inside Linebacker Caleb Henman picked off Beverly with 1:15 to go. That turnover led to Fitzgerald finding senior wide receiver Jake Pollock who ran 12 yards into the end zone with 10 seconds left to give Belmont the first quarter lead, 7-6.

Framingham regained the lead in the second quarter when it took over the ball deep in Belmont’s territory. The Flyers then employed an offense more associated with rugby than football; placing all 11 offensive players within a five-yard “box,” handing off the ball to the back who would follow the scrum. With its size advantage up front, Framingham pushed its senior running back Isaac Blackman into the end zone. Missing its second two-point conversion, the Flyers led 12-7.

After Belmont’s offense failed to move the ball, the Flyers took over after another good punt return. After Viate knocked down a pair of passes thrown his way, the third time was the charm as Beverly hit junior Jon Lanzo in the corner of the end zone on a fourth-down and ten from the 18 yard line with 13 seconds left in the half. This time the two-point conversion was successful for a 20-7 visitor’s advantage at halftime.

“If we clean up those mistakes in the first half, we would have been in a better position in the second half,” said Kumin.

Belmont’s defense would stiffen and shut out the Flyers in the second half as the Marauders’ offense took the quarter to begin moving with confidence against a strong Framingham defense.

With senior fullback Adam Deese making much in each run against a defense targeting him, Fitzgerald started winging it out and found his senior receiving corp including senior Will Ellet for 12 yards and Pollard who fought off a pair of Framingham backs for a 30-yard touchdown reception midway through the fourth period.

Framingham began the next possession near midfield and drove the ball to Belmont’s 34-yard line when Viale snagged his second INT to give the Marauders the ball with 5:45 to play and 83 yards from pay dirt.

Fitzgerald found Pollard for 10 yards on a third down and Deese gained 15 yards on three plays before senior running back Tyler Reynolds took a pitch 15 yards to the Flyers’ 40 with 3:08 to play.

With Belmont facing a fourth and six from the 35, Fitzgerald got a Flyers lineman to move for a five-yard offsides penalty resulting in Deese plowing one yard for the first down.

A Fitzgerald scamper around the right edge gave Belmont a first and ten from the 16 with 43 seconds remaining. But a completed pass t0 Ellet and runs by Reynolds left Belmont looking at fourth down with 11 seconds remaining.  The rest is history.

“I am so proud of my team. This team can make some noise in the league,” said Kumin. “This is a team that battles back when things aren’t going exactly the way it was supposed to go. They were driven in what they did and executed in big moments. I’m fired up for next Friday.”

Belmont’s next game is Friday, Sept. 22 at Haris Field against Woburn to begin the Middlesex League part of the schedule.

Thanksgiving Day Football: The Hype [VIDEO]

Photo:Waiting for the game.

It is less than a week before the annual Thanksgiving Day Football game between Belmont and Watertown high schools next Thursday, Nov. 24 at 10 a.m. at Belmont’s Harris Field. Nearing its centennial – the game was first played in 1920 – the yearly clash of neighboring students has had many great moments, with the last few years archived on video.

To celebrate the event, Belmont resident and recent Belmont High graduate (2015) Lucas Tragos has created another of his outstanding sports video to relive some of Belmont Football’s memorable moments versus Watertown in their historic rivalry.

Sports: Belmont’s Comeback Victory Over Winchester Brings Playoffs Closer

Photo: Belmont senior Dylan Ferdinand intercepts Winchester pass that led to Belmont winning TD. 

Senior Running Back Ben Jones’ third touchdown with 19 seconds remaining proved the margin of victory as Belmont High School scored 21 second half points to defeat visiting Winchester High (2-4) Sachems, 28-21, under the Friday night lights, Oct. 14, and send the Marauders (3-3) closer to the MIAA playoffs.

“Ben Jones was a horse, Cal [Christofori] was a horse, Jake Pollack was a horse, the defense came up with a huge, huge interception that gave us the chance to drive the field. A real team effort,” said Belmont Head Coach Yann Kumin after the game.

When asked about a possible playoff appearance, which Belmont has not been a part since 2009, senior co-captain Kevin Martin said this group of players has begun to dispell the past reputation of Belmont football as not being good enough to be invited to the postseason.

“‘Why not us’ has been our mantra this season. Right now it looks like we’re in but why not beat Lexington [Belmont’s opponent next Saturday] and bring a home game to Harris,” said Martin on Senior Night. 

Jones ran for 190 yards on 28 carries along with 26 receiving yards. Fellow senior QB Christofori threw for 108 yards – many of those yards to junior WR Pollack – and had a running touchdown as the team gained 356 total yards. 

Winchester’s QB Liam Fitzpatrick led the offense for the Sachems with a throwing and running touchdowns. With Belmont keying on his running, the Marauders were exposed by Fitzpatrick’s arm who went 13 of 23 for 248 yards, completing several long passes to his favorite receiver Henry McDonough.

“Fitzpatrick is such a good running quarterback that is what we were concerned with, and it did come back to bite us because he went over the top of our linebackers,” said Kumin.

After a scoreless first quarter – which included a dropped TD by Winchester on its first drive – The Sachems took a 7-0 lead after a sustained drive, including converting on a fourth and one, ending with a screen pass to McDonough who scored at 8:29.

After Belmont could not garner a first down on the next possession, Winchester used trickery with running back Pat Costello taking the hike then handing to Fitzgerald who found McDonough for a 40-yard pass to the Belmont 8. Two plays later, Fitzgerald waltzed into the end zone to put the Sachems up 14-0 with just under six minutes.

Belmont responded with a seven play, 62-yard drive ending with Jones taking it in for his first TD of the night at the two minutes remaining. But the drive nearly came to a premature end when Jones fumbled the ball just after picking up the first down on the 20. Yet senior OLB/WR Dylan Ferdinand outraced Winchester’s linebackers to recover the bouncing ball at the 6-yard line. 

But just as important, the Belmont defense finally stopped Winchester’s offense after it quickly reached the Belmont 35 yard line.  

The Marauders kept the momentum rolling into the second half as Jones nearly singlehandedly to0k the offense down the field allowing Christofori to sneak the ball into the end zone to knot up the game at 14 at the 7-minute mark. 

Winchester’s Fitzpatrick took to the air to retake the lead highlighted by a 38-yard pass to receiver Max Ebner to the Belmont 8. His two-yard TD gave the Sachem’s its final lead of the game with 3:45 left in the mark. 

But in this rock em’ sock em’-styled game, Belmont got down the field quickly with a Christofori 10 yard scamper followed by a 19-yard pass to Pollack to bring the ball to the Winchester 25. A quick hitting 14 yard rush by Belmont’s big junior fullback Adam Deese rumbled the ball to the 1-yard line where Jones finished the drive with a one-yard plunge and a 21-21 tie.

With its air attack successful for most of the night, Winchester’s Fitzgerald winged it to McDonough at midfield. But attempted to repeat the pass down the middle of the field, Ferdinand intercept the pass on Belmont’s 16-yard line at 7:47 remaining in the biggest play of the game.

“My coaches always tell me to turn and look when I’m out in coverage. And I actually listened to them this time. Good things happen when you listen to the coach,” said Ferdinand. 

Belmont would then keep the ball for the following 7:28 on a grinding, time-consuming drive that included a fourth down Jones run (he would carry the ball 10 times) and a Jones run off the right side of the offense to the one-yard line with less than 30 seconds left. When Jones walked into the end zone one play later, he was so exhausted he didn’t celebrate the 28-21 lead and had to be helped back to the sideline.

“We just have faith in our offense that it can execute when we need them to. So it was a no-brainer for us to go for it on fourth down because we want to get the win the right way,” said Kumin. 

When Jones walked into the end zone one play later, he was so exhausted he didn’t celebrate the 28-21 lead and had to be helped back to the sideline. 

After the game, with a crowd of students and residents outside the White Field House cheering and making noise, players were excited about the near future with the playoffs on the horizon. 

“Anything can happen in the playoffs in high school football. If we are the eight seed and we are playing the one seed, you could say, ‘Why even play the game?’ But we are going to play whoever we get because you never know. We hope to have a good run,” said Martin.  

“This team plays with heart. It’s not a one-player team; it’s everybody together. That’s what Coach Q has been telling us from day one, that it’s family,” said Ferdinand.

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