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.