NEEDHAM, Mass. — It might be a little premature to say that a historic run is on the verge in Belmont Hill, but in the final season for long-time head coach Kevin Fleming, the Hillers are still undefeated as we near the midway point of the ISL schedule.
The Hillers (4-0) used a “complete, team-effort” according to the head coach to take out St. Sebastian’s (2-2) on the road yesterday with a 17-12 victory with balloons and a host of other celebrations going on for the Arrows homecoming day.
Geroge McLaughlin grinded out 120 yards and a score on 21 carries and knocked home a 24-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, which proved to be very important points for the Hillers.
The defense also came up huge in the fourth quarter, as it held the Arrows out of the end zone after watching in horror as their punter shanked a punt off the side of his foot leaving the hosts in perfect position to ram in a game-clinching score in the final minute of the game.
“It was a great team win,” said Fleming. “Two pretty even teams were playing for a run at the league championship.”
FLEMING’S STILL GOT IT
He may be in his 23rd season on the sidelines for the Hillers, and this may be his last season, but Fleming proved that he still knows a thing or two about coaching and winning a big football game on the road.
With a whipping wind heading from right to left on the field, Fleming decided to take the advantage in the fourth quarter and defer any momentum that the Arrows could mount in the third quarter.
The Arrows offense woke up on their first drive of the second half when Patrick Healy hit John Connolly for a 15-yard touchdown to finish off a 10-play, 71-yard drive that ate up nearly half of the quarter.
However, another missed opportunity on the extra point left the Arrows down 14-12 heading into the fourth quarter.
“We played the third period going into the wind, so we knew they had all the advantages in the third,” Fleming said. “They were still behind and so in theory, if we had to go to a lot of passing we would have the win in the fourth.”
Arrows’ coach Bob Souza echoed those comments about the elements.
“When you were going against the wind it really limited what you could do offensively,” Souza said. “It helped us in the third quarter.”
MCLAUGHLIN’S FIELD GOAL DECISION
The scenario early in the fourth quarter was as such: The Hillers were driving, but were forced to make a decision on fourth and five from the Arrows’ 7-yard line.
Now, with the wind at their back, Fleming decided to call on his field goal unit to push the score to a 5-point lead.
McLaughlin lined up from 24-yards out and nailed the kick to give the Hillers the 17-12 advantage. The Arrows did get into field goal range late in the fourth quarter, and since Fleming played it “safe” and trusted his defense to make a few plays, the Arrows were forced to try and get into the end zone against a defense that was playing well all afternoon.
“We got up five and they couldn’t get a field goal, like (when they got deep in our territory) they couldn’t go for it,” Fleming said.
DEFENSE STANDS TALL
The special teams for the Hillers faulted in the final quarter, but the defense allowed the visitors to walk away with the victory.
The Arrows had the ball in the fourth quarter and were lined up to punt on their own 20-yard line midway through the quarter, but Brian O’Malley took a direct snap and went 19 yards for a first down on the trickery.
The Hillers defense held strong again and forced O’Malley to punt again. This time, the junior rocketed a punt over the intended returner and pinned the Hillers inside their 20-yard line.
Belmont Hill could not advance the ball and its punter sent a punt that netted only three yards off the side of his foot to set up the Arrows on the 31-yard line with two minutes left to go in the game.
Healy got the Arrows down to the 15-yard line on a scramble up the gut, but Parker Mundt came up with a big defensive play as he caught up to Healy in the backfield and started to bring him to the turf on third down.
Healy let go of a pass out of bounds and was well outside the pocket, but his pass didn’t travel past the line of scrimmage and the referees through a flag for intentional grounding. Healy could not connect on fourth down with his try towards the end zone and the Hillers were on their way to an undefeated mark.
BELMONT HILL 17, ST. SEBASTIAN’S 12
Belmont Hill (4-0) 0 – 14 –0 - 3 - 17
St. Sebastian’s (2-2) 6 – 0 –6 - 0 - 12
SS — Patrick Healy 1 run (kick failed)
BH — George McLaughlin 1 run (McLaughlin kick)
BH — Matthew Gustafson 1 run (McLaughlin kick)
SS — John Connolly 15 pass from Healy (pass failed)
BH — McLaughlin 24 FG