In a game that was decided by the end of the first half, the Vineyard football team dominated Bishop Connolly 43-0 in their home opener on Friday to gain an early share of the division lead in the Mayflower League large.
For coach Donald Herman the rout was the perfect antidote to the bitter pill of last week’s 23-21 loss to Carver, a game in which the Vineyarders took a lead with less than two minutes to play, only to give it back in the closing seconds on a Carver touchdown and two-point conversion.
“This was what we needed . . . this got us back on track,” Coach Herman said after the game.
Despite wind and intermittent rain — the result of a powerful storm that battered the Island most of the weekend — playing conditions on Friday night under the lights were decent. Field conditions at game time were mostly dry and a large crowd gathered to cheer the Vineyarders in their opener.
The crowd cheered early and often, as Cody Brewer returned the opening kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown to give the Vineyarders a 6-0 lead. Senior quarterback Mike McCarthy then made a two-point conversion seconds later to give the Vineyard an 8-0 lead.
The early roundhouse caught the Cougars in the chin and they never recovered, finding themselves unable to mount a serious scoring threat all game. The Vineyarders led big at the break, allowing Coach Herman to empty his bench in the second half.
Despite only playing in the first half, McCarthy had a stellar game, perhaps the best of his three-year high school career, passing for 129 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for a third. But Matt Costello arguably had the best game for the Vineyarders, carrying the ball for 60 yards while making two catches for 105 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
And if that wasn’t enough, Costello also had an interception while on defense.
“[Costello] made the plays when we needed him,” Coach Herman said. “He was all over the field.”
Nick Gross ran for a five-yard touchdown and Lamar Moreis ran a punt back 50 yards for a touchdown. Kicker Brooks Billingham continued to shine by going 5-for-5 on point-after attempts.
With the win, the Vineyard moves to 2-1 on the season and 1-0 in Mayflower League large play.
In his usual even-keeled manner, Coach Herman acknowledged the importance of Friday’s win but placed more emphasis on the upcoming slate of games, including Friday’s matchup against Holbrook, which is 2-0 on the season following big wins against Bristol Plymouth and Old Colony.
“There is a good chance we will have to run the table in our division to [get to the playoffs]. Friday’s win was important, but we still have a lot of work to do,” the coach said.