TAUNTON, Mass. -- With seconds remaining on the clock, the Mashpee Falcons offense did something that the club’s defense did not do all night, it showed mercy on Millis/Hopedale.
As time wound down on a decisive 30-14 win Tuesday night that propelled the Falcons to their first-ever MIAA Super Bowl appearance, senior quarterback Zak Orcutt took a knee with his team just a yard away from its’ sixth touchdown of the night.
During the 39 minutes that led up to the kneel down, Mashpee was anything but hospitable. While the Falcons’ running back tandem of 1,000-yard rusher – Jordan Keli’inui and Jared Taylor – gets much of the acclaim for the team’s 12-0 campaign, the defense has flown under the radar as one of the top units in Southeastern Massachusetts all season long.
In the D4 semifinal against Millis, the defensive unit had its finest day. Led by senior defensive tackle Graham Kilpatrick (2 sacks), the Falcons spent nearly as much time in the Mohawks’ backfield as Millis’ 1,500-yard runner Jimmy Perkins. Mashpee took Perkins out of the game, limiting him to just 13 yards on 12 rushes for the night. He added a 1-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter when the outcome was already settled.
Orcutt and the Mashpee defensive backfield were just as dominant as their brethren up front. Orcutt, who head coach Matt Triveri believes is one of the best safeties in the state, intercepted two Bay Tangney passes in the first half. Tangney had a night he’d rather forget altogether as he was harassed all evening by the Mashpee front, suffering six sacks and even more wallops. He went 6-for-16 throwing the ball, for 71 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions.
The Mashpee defense set the tone early. After forcing a three-and-out, the Mashpee offense marched down the field in just five plays and capped an 81-yard drive with a 32-yard scamper by Keli’inui (11 carries, 84 yards). A 2-point run by the senior gave Mashpee an 8-0 lead just 3:03 into the game.
Taylor (7 carries, 66 yards, 2 TDs) tacked on a second touchdown for Mashpee with 55 seconds to play in the quarter, an amazing spinning surge that saw him break through a number of arm tackles before finishing off a 34-yard run to the house. Orcutt found fullback Kyle Murray on a bootleg pass for the conversion to put the Falcons ahead by 16.
Millis threatened to make a game of it late in the second quarter. Recovering a Mashpee fumble just inside midfield, Tangney went up top and hit George Palcopolous on a 34-yard heave to put the Mohawks on the board. The conversion pass failed, though, and it was 16-6 with 2:20 left in the first half.
Mashpee iced the game going into the intermission. Orcutt orchestrated a beautiful two-minute drill, which was aided by a pass interference penalty against Millis which moved the ball to the Hawks’ 15. Two plays later the quarterback faked a handoff to Keli’inui and then found the running back wide-open on a wheel route in the left corner of the end zone. A 2-point pass to Johnny Williams made it 24-6 with 31 ticks left in the half.
Mashpee got the ball to open the second half and put it out of reach with a methodical 11-play, 58-yard drive that was capped by Taylor hopping in from 2-yards out.
Follow Rich Maclone on Twitter at @Capenews_Rich