Saturday, November 5, 2011
Recap: Barnstable 26, No. 3 B-R 20 (OT)
By Brendan Hall
Hayden Murphy's 5-yard touchdown in OT clinched Barnstable's first playoff berth since 2002, and sent the home crowd into euphoria.
HYANNIS, Mass. -- All 16 years and childish looks about him, Hayden Murphy could only offer sheepish grins to the cameras and tape recorders suddenly crowding the two feet in front of his face.
"This is my first interview, I can't talk, I'm sorry," he shrugged. "So much adrenaline."
How else should the floppy-haired slash-back have reacted after etching his name into Barnstable High's history books? The sophomore took a direct snap and darted across the goal line from five yards out, to deliver the host Red Raiders a thrilling 26-20 overtime shocker over No. 3 Bridgewater-Raynham. With the plunge, Murphy handed Barnstable its first outright Old Colony League title -- and postseason berth -- since 2002, and assured the Trojans no post-Thanksgiving football for the first time since 2008.
The call on Murphy's plunge was one that had worked for most of the second half for the Raiders (5-4, 3-0). With the Trojans (6-2, 1-1) respecting the passing attack of head coach Chris Whidden's spread scheme, that often left five or six players in the box. But rather than feed running back Theo France (17 carries, 159 yards, TD) the draw in conventional manners, Whidden called up a "Wildcat" package over a half-dozen times, with junior quarterback Nick Peabody split wide and Murphy -- a wideout, but also the team's third option under center -- taking the direct snap alongside France.
On this play, a designed quarterback counter, Murphy pushed the ball into France's belly as he pushed forward, but tucked it in himself and hauled it up the middle. The bench immediately emptied, and Murphy was mobbed.
"The linemen made me a huge hole, and I just ran right through it," Murphy smiled.
Said head coach Chris Whidden of the Wildcat strategy, "We've been repping it a lot in practice with Hayden, and as effective as it was, we kept going with it. Nick [Peabody] is one of our best blockers on the outside as a receiver, so it gets one of our best ballcarriers the ball, and one of our best blockers on the perimeter. Because either way, they're both going to be on the field, so you don't know what look we're going to give you."
But terrific as it was, the Trojans nearly pulled this one out after Branden Morin punched it in from five yards out with 2:09 left, to knot the game at 20. The Raiders fumbled the handoff at the Trojans' 14, but were able to force a three-and-out and take over at their own 37 with 52 seconds left.
Peabody marched the Raiders into B-R territory with two completions to James Burke, and with six seconds left Tom Mullen came in to attempt a 51-yard field goal. The sophomore's kick had the distance, but came up wide left.
B-R took the ball first in overtime, and on fourth down missed a short field goal attempt to give way to Murphy's heroics.
Concussion for Schlatz: B-R head coach Dan Buron confirmed that senior captain and running back/linebacker Nick Schlatz went down with a concussion early in the second quarter.
An ESPNBoston preseason and midseason All-State selection, Schlatz scored on the very first play of the game, taking a sweep around the right 73 yards for the Trojans' initial 7-0 lead. He suffered the injury in the Trojans' first offensive series of the second quarter, getting stopped by Barnstable junior linebacker Andrew Ellis trying to convert a third and goal. The very next play, quarterback Brad Delulis rolled to his left and hit Eric Warbek for a two-yard touchdown pass an 13-6 lead, their final lead of the game.
Up to that point, Schlatz had 122 yards on 14 carries. He also picked off Barnstable's Nick Peabody on the Raiders' opening drive.
Fight the power: Bridgewater kids come out of the womb rolling right, and while Buron sprinkled in some twins and trips looks out of one-back sets, the gameplan didn't deviate from those waggle and power principles that have made B-R one of the most consistent programs over the last two decades.
As usual, the Trojans looked to the stretch the field horizontally, with a convoy of blockers making room downfield. But the Raiders' linebacking corps was on its A-game tonight, between Ellis, Bryan Hardy and Ryan Litchman. After Schlatz's 73-yard scamper to start things off, the Raiders didn't allow another Trojans gain over 20 yards.
"Against Mansfield [last week, a 34-33 overtime loss], we struggled on anything C-gap and out," Whidden said. "So I put a little twist to our three-man front defensively, where Litchman's able to flow free, and I think that makes your blocking schemes a little bit more difficult. Now it's Andrew, Bryan or Ryan, one of the three of them is going to a little more space to roam."
Frenetic France: One of the criticisms of Barnstable early in the season was that it was a team perceived to abandon the run too quickly when playing from behind.
And while Peabody deserves plenty of praise for the job he's done since taking over for the injured D.J. Crook under center, equal amounts need to be heaped the way of France's, for the balance he's given the Raiders this year out of the backfield. No longer a pass-happy bunch, the Raiders have often gone to France for draws and counters, to keep the defense honest when they leave too many players out of the box.
Witness France's 50-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter, a simple draw play in which he put on the burners once he got to the second level and blew by the safeties.
Raiders' playoff opponent set: Lincoln-Sudbury beat its archrival Acton-Boxborough tonight, 21-14, to clinch their second straight Division 1A Playoff berth. They will face the Red Raiders, who will be looking for their first Super Bowl championship since beating BC High for the Division 1 title in 1999.