On a bitterly cold and windy Friday night at Dan McCarthy Field, a motivated Mashpee team, coming off a 42-0 playoff departure at the hands of Nantucket, out-muscled a banged-up Vineyard squad 20-6.

Though the score may have been lopsided, the turnover battle stayed even. But the Vineyard’s mistakes on offense put their defense in a tough spot. On multiple occasions, Mashpee began their drives just outside the red zone, and as a result the Falcons powered their way to a 20-0 lead late into the fourth quarter.

And while the game appeared to be on its way to ending with the Vineyard’s first doughnut of the season, a spark came in the form of a botched snap and fumble recovery by defensive tackle Brian Torres with 1:46 left in the contest. The Vineyard took over just past midfield on their side and ran a counter to Ty Mathew who burst through the right side of Mashpee’s defense and darted for 40 yards before being brought down at the Falcon 34 yard line.

Then on the last play of the game, Vineyard quarterback Zach Smith dropped back to pass and was quickly pressured, forcing him to roll out of the pocket to his left. Streaking across the field from right to left, Braden Sayles had his arms high in the air to signal he had beat his man. Smith locked in on Sayles, squared his shoulders and heaved the ball to the corner of the endzone. Clobbered by Falcons, Smith watched from the ground as Sayles reached up, snagged the frozen pigskin out of the sky and landed cleanly in the end zone for the touchdown.

The fourth quarter was yet another example of the Vineyarders wearing their hearts on their sleeves and never losing pride. After Mashpee went up by three scores there were plenty of opportunities for the Vineyard to fold, but they never did, with especially courageous performances coming from Antone Moreis, Hunter Meader, David Butkowsky and Brian Torres who all battled through injuries sustained early in the game.

Sayles led the team in total tackles with 14. Meader had nine total tackles and Josh Pinto tied Sayles for most unassisted tackles with seven. Pinto also made an interception on the goal line in the first quarter, thwarting a Mashpee drive and keeping the score knotted at zero. Sophomore linebacker Jayden Coyle made seven total tackles and recovered a fumble.

Before the start of the game, seniors Justin Chin, Hoffie Hearn and Josh Pinto, all accompanied by their parents, were acknowledged and thanked for their dedication to the program.

With the loss, the Vineyarders drop to 5-4 on the season. After some talk this week of hoping Fairhaven would be open to a trip to the Vineyard for next weekend’s game, barring an unlikely change of heart, the Vineyarders will hit the road to face off with the Blue Devils in their final game of the season. The Vineyard is undefeated on the road so far this year.