The Martha's Vineyard Regional High School football team dominated Carver High School by a score of 44 to 25 in Friday's home opener that featured a spectacular interception return, two dramatic goal line stands and a steady dose of scoring by the home team, both on the ground and through the air.
The Vineyarders improve to 2-0 on the season.
Their next game is home against Cathedral High School-Boston at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Although the Vineyarders won Friday by three touchdowns, the final score was not a true indicator of the game, as the home team dominated on offense, defense and special teams.
The Vineyarders held Carver scoreless in the first half, largely thanks to a pair of goal line stops in the second quarter. Both times Carver needed only a few yards to break into the end zone, but were turned back by a swarming Vineyard defense.
The Vineyarders entered halftime with a 16 to 0 lead.
The game turned into a shoot-out in the second half, as both teams scored touchdowns almost every time they took possession. After going scoreless the first two quarters, Carver lit up the scoreboard for 26 points, but the Vineyarders matched them score for score.
Several Carver scores came on freak passing plays in which Crusader wide-outs doubled back to catch under-thrown balls, or Vineyard defenders fell down.
On the sidelines the Vineyard cheerleaders kept pace with the team, doing jumping jacks each time the Vineyarders scored. Facing the rabid home crowd with smiles on their faces, they counted out one for each point on the board. By the end, when they were reeling off sets of 30, 37 and 44 jumping jacks, they continued to smile through their breathlessness.
The game started off at a much less frenetic pace.
The Vineyard took the early lead on the unlikely score of 2-0, after David Amabile downed Matt Lucier's punt at the one-yard line. The Vineyarders scored a safety two plays later when Bastile Lucier and several other defenders clipped Carver running back Brandon Holbrook in the end zone.
The Vineyarders scored their first touchdown on a three-yard run by Alan Fortes later in the first quarter, capping a 62-yard drive shouldered by powerful runs by a variety of backs. Amabile and Josh Paulson each reeled off 15-yard runs during the drive.
The teams then exchanged field position until Carver drove deep into Vineyard territory early in the second quarter. When Carver quarterback Kevin Jellison threw into the flat on a third and long, linebacker Kevin Hathaway stepped in front of the pass for an interception; and then dashed down the left sideline to score an 80-yard touchdown.
The Vineyarders took the kickoff at midfield to start the second half and proceeded to run the ball down the gut of Carver's front line.
Coach Donald Herman again spread the ball around the backfield; as Fortes, Amabile and quarterback Cliff Ibarrondo each had runs of eight yards or more. The Vineyarders scored on an option play when Ibarrondo pitched to Paulson for a seven-yard score.
Carver bounced back with two scoring plays of 12 and 15 yards, but failed to convert the two-point conversion both times. After their first score, the Crusaders faked an extra point attempt and ran Wilson Wadlow to the left of the Vineyarders line.
The play was snuffed out when Mike Cecillo ran down Wadlow and pushed him out of bounds at the two-yard line.
The Vineyarders got back to their offensive ways when Amabile broke two tackles and darted up the sideline to score a dazzling a 80-yard touchdown early in the third quarter. Minutes later, Jeff Osborn scored a touchdown when he sliced through two defenders to catch a perfect pass from backup quarterback Mike McCarthy.
Osborn had a big night, leading the defense with 11 tackles and blocking a punt in the first half on special teams. He was named player of the game by the Vineyard radio station WMVY.
Carver scored another touchdown later in the fourth quarter, but again failed to make the two-point conversion. The Vineyard, however, converted all their point-after touchdown attempts, as kicker Zach Countinho went six-for-six on extra points.
Countinho helped seal the game late when he recovered two Carver on-side kicks.
The Vineyarders offensive line had a big game overall, helping Amabile to 124 rushing yards and Paulson to 73 rushing yards.