Brian Malone ends Weymouth’s comeback chance with a one-handed interception in the endzone.
By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
With fan capacity severely limited at the Weymouth High School football field on Friday afternoon, Walpole’s 17-14 victory over the Wildcats might not have represented the loud road atmosphere players are used to. But for however many fans were on hand to witness a spirited Walpole comeback, they grew very quiet when a one handed Brian Malone interception in the endzone ended the game.
Things couldn’t have started much better for Walpole. On the first possession of the game, they marched down the field, picked up a fourth down conversion on a jet sweep, and capped off the drive with a touchdown pass from Owen Johnson to TJ Farrell. On the next possession, they forced a Weymouth three and out, and weren’t fooled by the Wildcats' fake punt attempt. After the Walpole drive stalled inside the twenty yard line, rather than attempt another fourth down conversion, they attempted a field goal, which Harry Butters pushed wide left. Weymouth failed to seize the momentum, however, bobbling a handoff that Walpole recovered just before the first quarter ended with Walpole up, 7-0.
A handful of Derek Petrucci runs led to a playaction pass to Haidar Faraj to put Walpole up, 14-0. Soon after, again Walpole forced another turnover when a Wildcat pass was too high for their receiver, but fell right into Brian Malone’s hands.
Just when it seemed Walpole could essentially end the game before the half, one of Walpole’s linemen was injured, and there was a very long interruption waiting for an ambulance to arrive. Once that was cleared up, Walpole’s drive stalled and again, Butters missed a field goal. With little time on the clock, Walpole came out throwing and nearly threw a pick-six, before an interception essentially acted as an arm punt, and Walpole headed into the half up, 14-0.
With two turnovers and four red zone trips, Walpole had to think they should have been up by much more than two touchdowns. Still, with such a dominant defensive performance in the first half, there didn’t seem to be much of a chance Weymouth was going to come back.
Credit, then, to the Wildcats for their resiliency. After their return man fumbled their kick return out of bounds, Weymouth drove down the field and threw a touchdown pass, then stepped up their defensive intensity after a failed surprise onside kick. By the end of the third quarter, they’d cut the lead to 14-7.
If there was one play that exemplified Weymouth’s resiliency, it was the game-tying touchdown catch. Weymouth’s receiver was clobbered in the endzone by Walpole’s safety. Although he got the wind knocked out of him, he held onto the ball and put the pressure firmly on Walpole’s offense. But while Weymouth’s fans screamed at the referees that the hit was both helmet-to-helmet (it wasn’t) and late (it was close), it was on the next Walpole possession that they’d become downright infuriated.
Walpole drove the ball down the field, only for Owen Johnson to fumble on a strip sack, and a Weymouth defender to scoop it and score. After the referees had a conference, they determined the defender’s knee was down when he recovered the fumble, which led to a Weymouth three and out.
After a long Walpole drive that saw the clock wind to within three minutes, they again faced a fourth down. With their kicker now 0-2, coach Chris Sullivan declared after the game he had “No hesitation. None at all,” about kicking the field goal, which was the correct call, since Butters, who Sullivan called “a weapon a lot of teams don’t have,” split the uprights.
With less than two minutes left in the game, again Weymouth showed their resiliency. They drove the ball to around the twenty with less than thirty seconds left. But a one-handed interception from Brian Malone in the endzone ended the game, moving Walpole to 1-1 on the year.