EVERETT, Mass. -- Mother Nature can be a fickle woman at times, and her temper tantrum last night brought enough rain and miserable weather conditions to completely alter a football team's gameplan.
Fortunately for Barnstable, they already had the tools in place to make the necessary adjustments. Namely, the Raiders had a defense capable of shouldering the load until its potent offense could strike for a big play.
Quarterback Nick Peabody found wideout Dylan Morris twice for touchdown passes and the defense stopped top-ranked Everett twice at the one-yard line to take a 13-7 victory over the Crimson Tide in double overtime at Everett Memorial Stadium Friday night.
Changing the field position game led to Everett's (3-1) first score as Jakarrie Washington came up with a big interception on Barnstable's (4-0) second drive. That helped pin the Raiders deep in their own territory and two possessions later, the Crimson Tide took advantage of the short field for s 32-yard march that ended on a two-yard touchdown run by Jalen Felix.
The defenses played to a stalemate from there until the start of the fourth quarter when Peabody hit Morris with a pretty throw that found the senior wide open for a 37-yard score.
"We were able to tag Dylan on a post corner," explained Peabody. "(Everett) have tremendous athletes so it really would have been tough for Dylan to just burn right by the guy. We tagged him on the post corner, he was able to get his guys hips turned and I had great protection up front and was able to put it out there and he made a great catch."
Added Morris, "The offensive line gave Nick plenty of time to throw the ball and Nick gave me a great throw. I just had to run under it, catch it and I got into the end zone."
Everett had a chance to win it in regulation, moving from its own 39 down to the Raiders one with under seven minutes remaining, but Barnstable's defense forced a fumble that was recovered by Terrence Mudie.
Neither team threatened the rest of the way and the game went into overtime, where the Raiders defense came up with another critical stop as Derek Estes came up to stop Everett fullback Joey White at the goal line on fourth down.
"The defense was just tremendous," praised Peabody. "It was a really great effort. We knew that they had it in them. The offense in the first half, we really weren't getting the job done or moving the ball but it was a great confidence boost to know that we could still be in the game, even as poorly as we were playing in the first half. That was huge."
The Raiders had their own chance to win it on their OT possession, but a 23-yard field goal attempt sailed wide of the uprights. Undeterred, Barnstable came right back and Peabody hit Morris again, this time for an eight-yard score, on the third play of the second OT.
The Raiders missed on a conversion pass attempt, but the defense had one more stop in them. Lineman Jake Palmer cam up with a tackle for a two-yard loss on second down, then safety Kevin Hardy intercepted a Gilly DeSouza pass in the end zone to close out the win.
"Every series we stopped them our defense was gaining more and more confidence," said Barnstable coach Chris Whidden. "They believed all along that we could beat them. We knew we could play with them and it was just a matter of time. We knew our offense was going to get something, it was just a matter of time. The first three games our offense was doing everything they could, they were putting up all the points even though we didn't make a mistake on the defensive end. We proved that it's a total team here."
NOT QUITE WHAT ANYONE EXPECTED
For a team used to scoring in bunches -- Barnstable averaged 40 points per game in its first three victories -- a trip to Everett would undoubtedly bring that average down a bit.
Weather conditions aside, the Raiders were going to go with whatever the Tide's defense gave them, so they tried to come out throwing. And they struggled, as Peabody missed on his first 11 throws and Barnstable finished the first half with just 20 yards of offense.
Rather than keep beating their heads against the proverbial brick wall, the Raiders adjusted and started using tailback Hayden Murphy as a workhorse. After being held to minus-4 yards on six first-half carries, the offensive line started winning the battle in the trenches and giving the junior room to run as Murphy collected 53 yards on his first six carries of the second half.
"(The rain) negates their speed a bit on the outside but it also negates our passing game and we've always said that we're going to take what you give us and we're going to beat you with that," explained Whidden. "They started with a 4-3 look with seven in the box so we tried throwing it at first but it was just difficult with the conditions. so we adjusted to what we could do."
Those adjustments eventually helped open things up for Peabody to throw for 96 yards and two scores over the final 22 minutes.
"I think the biggest thing was getting our running game going. Our linemen were able to block tremendously up front. Once we got the run going, I think they got a little over zealous up front and that opened it up for a couple passes."
The Raiders snapped Everett's 28-game win streak by frustrating the Tide in spots where they usually excel. Namely, punching the ball in from the one-yard line, something Barnstable stopped Everett from doing twice.
If Everett is going to have a chance at redemption, it will have to come in the Div. 1A Super Bowl, providing both teams manage to win their respective league titles and a semifinal playoff game.
After the game, Everett coach John DiBiaso was asked to reflect back on his squad's three-year run of perfection, but the veteran coach knows this year's team is going to have to carve its own identity before the season is over.
"It was a lot of hard work. It takes a lot to get 28 in a row and that's what I told them all year," DiBiaso said. "I preached to them, 'A lot of kids put in a lot of blood sweat and tears into those 28 games and you have something to uphold.' But this is a team in itself. They have to make their own memories and history and get their own accomplishments."
"They can't rest on what Manny Asprilla or Vondell Langston did," he continued. "They have to make their own accomplishments. We have to gather the troops, circle the wagons, we have to come out against Cambridge, which is a league game, and then Xaverian and BC High. It doesn't get any easier. Win our league and get to the playoffs. Thats our goal."
BARNSTABLE (4-0) 0 0 0 7 6 - 13
EVERETT (3-1) 7 0 0 0 0 - 7
EV - Jalen Felix 2 run (Gilly DeSouza kick)
BA - Dylan Morris 37 pass from Nick Peabody (Terrence Mudie kick)
BA - Morris 8 pass from Peabody (pass failed)