In what referees, coaches and spec­tators agreed was one of the dirtiest football games seen here in a long time, Nantucket High School toppled Mar­tha’s Vineyard 27-14 Saturday.
Referees kept warm in the wind-chilled weather by walking off more than two football fields worth of pen­alties between the arch rivals who fought physically and verbally from the opening whistle to the final tick of the clock.
“What they should have done was stopped the game early to cool down both teams or just started kicking play­ers off the field,” Vineyard coach Robert Tankard said after Saturday’s match. “I’ll never say we lost because of the officiating, but they exercised absolutely no control over the game.”
The contest was marred by pushing and shouting matches between the players during virtually every set of downs and by dozens of potentially dangerous late hits, Nantucket coach Vito Capizzo said.
“Emotions run high in games like this and when you fall behind it creates tension,” Mr. Capizzo said. “It was a dirty game, and I’m just disappointed that our kids sank to the level of the Vineyard players toward the end.”
The loss drops the Vineyard season mark to 3-6, putting them in fourth pace in the Mayflower League. Third place Nantucket improved to 6-4.
By winning the 39th annual fall clas­sic, Nantucket took home the Island trophy as it has for 10 of the past 11 years and bragging rights for yet an­other year.
Nantucket gained 110 free yards on the nine penalties assessed against the Vineyard, which included four un­sportsmanlike conduct calls and three personal fouls.
On the other sideline, Nantucket handed out 75 yards on seven penal­ties, including three personal fouls and one unsportsmanlike conduct call, the majority of which came in the final quarter.
“Our kids lost the game because they lost their cool. That’s the story,” Mr. Tankard said. “It’s certainly not the type of game either team should be proud of. We knew they would come here and try to intimidate us, and they succeeded.”
The crowd for the game was unusu­ally sparse because of the frosty weather.
Martha’s Vineyard opened the con­test by scoring on their first play from scrimmage when halfback Jeff Scheller broke a 46-yard run for a touchdown.
From then on, until the final sec­onds, the scoreboard belonged to Nan­tucket, which racked up 27 consecutive points.
Two touchdowns through the air, the first from quarterback Mark Albright to Kevin Hyser and the sec­ond from halfback John Cesario to Robert McGrady, put Nantucket ahead 14-6 at the half.
The Whalers deviated from their tra­ditionally strong ground game in favor of a more balanced attack, gaining 160 yards both on the ground and through the air.
“We have never been a passing team, but they were putting a nine-man line against us at times so we tried it,” Mr. Capizzo said. “I knew we could throw if we had to.”
Nantucket, which went to the air an average of only two times a game this season, completed nine of its 13 passes for three touchdowns.
The Vineyard connected on two of its passing five attempts for 35 yards. The Vineyard didn’t attempt a pass once in the first half.
Nantucket took to the air for its third touchdown as Mr. Cesario con­nected with German exchange student Peter Kiehl, who had never seen a foot­ball before arriving at the school in September. Bill Medeiros capped the Whaler scoring with a 36-yard run.
“Our defensive secondary gave way,” Mr. Tankard said. “That was our biggest problem defensively.”
The Vineyarders gained 162 yards in total offense compared to Nantucket’s 320. The rushing performance of Mr. Scheller accounted for 118 of the Vine­yard’s total yards, with 93 coming in the first half.
The Vineyard’s final points came on a nine-yard scramble into the end zone by Jamie Maciel and a successful con­version.