When the referees signaled the end of the Belmont/Salem football game, the Concord Avenue gate at Belmont’s Harris Field was opened and the hometown fans stormed the field in an explosion of jubilation only a few older Belmont residents could recall occurring at past football games.
Players, coaches, students and parents in the South end zone had reason to celebrate as the Marauders won its first home game in 24 months and the program’s first back-to-back victories in three years.
Under Friday Night Lights, Nov. 7, fans witnessed senior running back Max Jones score five touchdowns as he rushed for an unofficial 261 yards as the Marauders defeated the visiting Witches, 41-16.
“We won last week, (a 34-21 victory over Medford on Halloween) came in with tons of energy this whole week and we used that this game,” Jones told the Belmontonian and Belmont Media Center just before his teammates – who earlier chanted “MVP” and “Lebron” to Jones – drenched the co-captain with a Gatorade bath.
Following senior fullback Bryce Christian the entire night, Jones used his sprinting prowess – Jones finished 7th in the 200 meters at the All-State’s championship in June – to bust long romps over his favorite right side of the offensive line manned by senior center Austin Lutz, junior right guard Justin Arroyan and big man, senior right tackle DeShawn Frederick.
“I have to thank every single [linemen], the wide receivers, everyone who blocked for me,” said Jones.
“I just do the running.”
And Jones’ running ability was on full display during Belmont’s second possession of the ball after Salem tied the score, 6-6, in the first quarter soon after Jones scored his first TD on a 2 yard rush up the middle.
Jones dashed for 23, 14, and 9 yards before unleashing a lightning quick 30 yard sprint to the Salem 2 yard line. His two yard “follow-the-pile” TD, giving Belmont a 13-6 lead early in the second quarter, saw him contribute 78 ground yards to the drive.
After Salem scored off a Belmont fumble with two minutes remaining until the half, Belmont showed it could gain huge chunks of real estate through the air as sophomore QB Cal Christofori hit senior wide receiver Peter Durkin on a slant pattern for 30 yards to the Salem 35 on Belmont’s first play.
On the next play, Jones took a Christofori handoff to the left and went the distance for his third touchdown with a minute remaining before half time.
Jones had tallied 155 yards in the first half to give Belmont the lead, 20-12, after the first two quarters.
The second half saw Belmont’s at-times “iffy” defense step up when senior defensive lineman and co-captain Nick Ryan recovered a Witches’ fumble at Belmont’s 40 yard line. On a second and 7 from the Salem 30, Jones rushed for his fourth TD going around the right side untouched to up the lead to 27-12.
After the Witches got a bit closer, scoring early in the fourth quarter to shorten the lead to 27-16, Jones took the kickoff for 21 yards to near midfield. Three plays later, junior running back Mekhai Johnson barreled through the defense 44 yards for the touchdown.
Salem next drive ended when junior defensive back Robby Aiello intercepted Salem QB Jared Nubas with six minutes left in the game. Jones finished his night by going 48 yards – his longest rush of the night – on the right for his fifth TD.
Capping off the game was an interception by Arroyan who had played hard in the trenches for the 44 minutes.
While noting that Jones “had the hot hand and we just kept feeding him the rock,” Belmont’s first year Head Coach Yann Kumin said he was most proud about the entire team’s “desire to play for one another.”
Kumin noted while the defense had “stumbled out of the gate, they sure finished strong.”
Next week, Friday, Nov. 14, Belmont hosts Boston Latin and will finish the season against one-loss Watertown at Harris Field on Thanksgiving Morning.
“Watertown is a great team with a great head coach in John Cacace,” said Kumin.
“But our focus will be against Boston Latin next week,” Kumin said, noting if the team wins, “that means we’d have a winning streak.”