For the second straight week, Antone Moreis lit up the scoreboard and stuffed the stat sheet. The sophomore running back dashed for 176 yards and three touchdowns and added an interception on defense at Saturday’s homecoming game against Sandwich. But the Vineyarders came up just short in a hard-fought and highly physical back-and-forth battle.

The purple and white jumped out to an early two-touchdown lead on the back of smart aggressive play by the Vineyard defense. Senior captain Josh Pinto emphatically sacked the Sandwich quarterback on his first passing attempt of the game, and the Vineyarders kept the pressure on for the duration of the contest.

Sandwich turned the ball over on downs following Pinto’s sack, and Moreis notched his first touchdown of the evening on an 18-yard run up the right hash marks.

The extra point attempt was no good, but on Sandwich’s next possession, sophomore defensive back Ty Mathew punched the ball loose from a Sandwich wide receiver while he attempted to haul in a third-down pass. On the ensuing punt, Sandwich botched the snap, and the Vineyard took over deep in Blue Knight territory.

Quarterback Zach Smith at the line. — Aaron Wilson

Just one play later Moreis found the end zone again, this time on a 26-yard counter run that fooled the Blue Knight defense so effectively Moreis darted untouched across the goal line. The Vineyard opted to go for two and Moreis completed the conversion.

But down two scores, Sandwich did not quit. A fumble by the Vineyard deep in their territory gave Sandwich new life. The Blue Knights scored on a quarterback sneak at the goal line and nailed the extra point to make it 14-7 heading into halftime.

On the Vineyard’s opening drive of the second half, junior wide receiver Braden Sayles had a completed pass ripped out of his hands on the way to the ground for a turnover. Sandwich then responded with a 45-yard catch and run touchdown and split the uprights on the extra point to tie the game at 14-14.

As the wind and drizzle started to pick up, emotions on the Vineyard sideline started to as well. The Vineyarders forced a fumble in Sandwich territory, then Jayden Coyle busted his way through the Blue Knight defense for a touchdown. The extra point was blocked, putting the score at 20-14 in the Vineyard’s favor.

Unfortunately, two 15-yard personal fouls against the home team led to another Sandwich touchdown and an extra point conversion that gave Sandwich their first lead, 21-20.

Antone Moreis will not be stopped. — Aaron Wilson

The Vineyarders briefly recaptured the lead on a fourth and one counter run that Moreis took 26 yards to the house for his third score of the night. However, the two-point conversion was no good. With five minutes remaining the Vineyard led 26-21.

Sandwich fought their way to just past midfield when the Blue Knight QB connected with his slot receiver for a long reception. Moreis chased down the Sandwich runner and forced an apparent fumble as the Sandwich player broke the plane of the endzone but the refs called it a touchdown, giving Sandwich the lead 28-26.

With 2:38 left in the ballgame, the Vineyarders drove into Blue Knight territory, but turned the ball over on downs after Zach Smith, while under heavy pressure, just missed Moreis on a fly route down the sideline. Final score in favor of Sandwich 28-26.

Next, the boys travel to Harwich to take on divisional opponent Monomoy on Friday. The following week Nantucket arrives for the Island Cup.