Will Bowen (27) wraps up his man and makes a tackle on kickoff coverage. Photo by Mike Flanagan.
By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Following back-to-back wins against Dedham and Millis to open up the 2021 Fall II athletic season, Dover-Sherborn Regional High School varsity football traveled to Bellingham on Saturday morning looking to move to 3-0. With both teams entering Saturday at 2-0, a win would put either Bellingham or DS in a tie for first place with Medway in TVL Small.
The Raiders caught a break on the first play of the game. Bellingham hit a trick-play running back pass to senior wide out Tyler Warren for a 65-yard touchdown to open the game. The touchdown was called back, however, due to a taunting penalty, but the Blackhawks maintained possession inside the red zone. The DS defense hunkered down and held its ground, stuffing a run up the middle by senior running back Blake Simpson, followed by a pass break-up by senior linebacker Nick Rinaldi and a tackle-for-loss by junior linebacker Henry Murphy. Bellingham opted to go for it on fourth down and senior quarterback Gavin Elder's pass was batted down in the end zone by sophomore defensive back Michael Polk as the Raiders forced a turnover on downs.
The game would remain scoreless until 9:40 to play in the second quarter. With the ball at midfield following a short punt by Bellingham, Nick Rinaldi set DS up in plus territory with a 14-yard run, followed by a 10-yard quarterback keeper by junior Grady Russo inside the 25. On the very next play, Russo dropped back in the pocket and wore a hit while airing out a perfect ball for Michael Polk on a go-route down the far sideline. Polk leapt over his man and corralled the ball before falling into the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown, giving the Raiders a 7-0 lead.
Bellingham responded accordingly on their next possession, methodically marching 61 yards down the field before a two-yard touchdown run by Simpson capped off the six-play drive to make it 7-6 (two-point try unsuccessful). Bellingham's defense then forced Russo and the DS offense to a three-and-out. On the second play of the ensuing series for the Blackhawks, Elder dropped back and hit Warren on a bomb down the field for a 68-yard touchdown to give Bellingham its first lead of the contest. Simpson added a successful two-point conversion on a run up the middle and the Blackhawks took a 14-7 lead into halftime.
The Blackhawks received the opening kickoff of the second half and marched down the field on an 11-play drive, chewing up nearly the entire third quarter. Elder finished off the drive by hooking up with Warren for a 22-yard score on a seam route, extending Bellingham's lead to 20-7 with 2:25 remaining in the quarter. Following a three-and-out by DS, the Blackhawks drove into DS territory to open the fourth quarter. A tackle-for-loss by Rinaldi and a holding penalty on Bellingham forced a fourth-and-11 for the Blackhawks from the DS 39-yard-line. With Bellingham opting to go for it, Elder delivered the back-breaker, hitting Warren on a go-route for a 39-yard touchdown down the far sideline, Warren's third of the day, making it 28-7 (successful two-point try by Simpson).
On the second play of the ensuing series for the Raiders, Russo was strip-sacked by Bellingham's David Roy Jr as the Blackhawks took over at the DS 31. On the first play following the turnover, Simpson took a handoff up the middle, broke several tackles and dashed 31 yards for a touchdown to extend the lead to 36-7 (successful two-point try by Simpson). An interception by Russo on the next series allowed Bellingham to add some insurance, this time a one-yard touchdown run by Simpson, as the Blackhawks prevailed by a final of 43-7.
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.