Despite two valiant touchdowns and one particularly impressive defensive turnover at the one yard line, the Vineyarders lost to the Bourne Canalmen 40-13 at their homecoming game Friday night.

Undaunted by the scoreboard, the Vineyard community turned out in droves to show support. Purple and blue ribbons hung from the stands and students wore face-paint and purple mardi gras beads. Middle school cheerleaders debuted their new, pressed purple uniforms as an autumn mist settled over Daniel McCarthy field.

The Canalmen got off to an early start, pushing the ball upfield on their opening drive and pounding it into the endzone for the game’s first score. A Vineyard fumble led to another Canalmen touchdown.

Stands were packed with students, parents and alumni

The Vineyarders stuck back with their best offensive play of the night, a nearly 70-yard touchdown connection between quarterback Ivan Shepard and receiver Tristan Scheller. Shepard dropped back in the pocket, wheeled to his left, and hit Scheller in the chest about 30 yards downfield. Scheller took care of the rest, streaking up the far sideline and galloping into the endzone for the Vineyard’s first touchdown of the night.

The game ended on a high note as well, with freshman Jaden Coyle scoring the team’s second and final touchdown as the clock wound down in the fourth quarter.

A failed two-point conversion cemented the final at 40-13.

“I’m a little baffled,” coach Don Herman later told the Gazette. “We felt like we had a good week of practice. We felt like we were prepared... I really feel that we can be a much better football team than what we are now.”

The team will play off-Island games for the next two weeks, including next Friday’s game against Greater New Bedford Regional Technical Vocational High School.

The stands for homecoming were packed with students, all wearing black, some shivering in short-sleeves as an autumn darkness fell. “I come to all the home games,” said junior Jeremy Regan. “I like to support the Vineyard.”

A tough night in the trenches but the spirit was strong. — Noah Asimow

School staff, parents, school committee members and alumni filled up the rest of the stands. A seasoned man named Stoney held court just below the announcer booth at the 50-yard line, wearing a U.S. Navy hat with American flag pins. Parents and other spectators came to pay tribute and consult about the game.

“I have been sitting in this seat since 1995,” Stoney said. He also had a critique for the Vineyard defense: “They've lost the art of tackling below the waist.”

Freshman football player Antone Moreis had a whole cheering section with mother, Vicki Moreis, step-father Jason Chalifoux, brother Philip Moreis and grandparents Roy and Dottie Maciel all in the stands together to support him. Antone is the fourth son in the family to play football for the Vineyard, and he wears the same number (1) his older brother Zack recently retired. Ms. Moreis said her son had been looking forward to the homecoming game.

“Last night he was getting psyched up so it’s fun to see his excitement,” she said.

It was a highly anticipated night for many. Seventh grade cheerleader Kaitlyn Vanderhoop said she practices for at least an hour every night. The cheerleading team couldn’t perform all their stunts and tosses because the rain on Friday made for slippery grass, but she was happy with their performance.

“It’s fun, and you work hard,” she said, purple ribbons bouncing in her hair. “We’re kind of sisters,” she said of the team.

Nearby, Julie Hatt sat with Pam Herman. Julie’s son Kaleb, number 71, is also a freshman. Ms. Hatt excitedly shared that he had been nominated to the school’s homecoming court. The homecoming kings and queens would be announced at the homecoming dance Saturday evening. She said being on the team has made the transition into high school an empowering one for her son.

“The brotherhood, it’s like no other sport,” she said. “They are so there for each other, it’s amazing to see.”

During the game, donations were collected for Neil Estrella, a former football coach and player who is fighting cancer. The game began with a moment of silence for West Tisbury police officer Daniel Gouldrup, who died unexpectedly this week after serving the department for 32 years.

Landry Harlan and Noah Asimow contributed reporting.