LAKEVILLE, Mass. -- Once Dighton-Rehoboth figured out it could get Adam Benvie free over the left side of its offensive line, there wasn’t much host Apponequet could do in yesterday’s critical early-season South Coast Conference showdown.
Benvie’s three touchdowns powered D-R to a 21-7 comeback win Saturday in a game that gives the Falcons some good momentum toward a possible third consecutive trip to the postseason.
“I’m so proud of the way they played,” said D-R coach Dave Driscoll. “It’s a team game. Offense is definitely a work-in-progress. We got too many mistakes. We need to work a little bit on our offense, but to hold them to seven points and to score 21, it’s basically about the best as I could have ever thought of.”
Down 7-6 late in the third quarter, the Falcons (2-0, 1-0 SCC) gave it to Benvie on fourth-and-3 from the Apponequet 41 and he was barely touched on his way to the end zone. His ensuing two-point conversion rush made it 14-7 with 23 seconds to go in the quarter.
After Apponequet failed to convert a fourth-and-3 on the other end, Benvie took off on the same play 49 yards on the very next snap to help seal it with just over eight minutes left. The senior finished with 164 yards on nine carries.
Apponequet struck first on a 28-yard scamper by Zach Nanfelt, but a Mason Hinken interception and 39-yard return put the Falcons in a position to answer at the end of the first half. Benvie barreled in from seven yards out but Hinken’s PAT was wide right to keep it 7-6 Lakers (1-1, 0-1) at the break.
“I guess this is what they’d say is the first big game in the league,” Driscoll said. “The way the schedule’s been it’s happened early the last three years. As a result, you get a little bit of a leg up if you win the game. It certainly doesn’t mean anything other than you have a win because you have to play the whole season, but it’s nice to win. And what I’m most pleased about is our team rose to the occasion today. They played noticeably better than they did last week. And we played as a team, especially on defense.”
ABOUT THAT ‘D’
The game’s biggest sequence came on the fourth-down stop by D-R to start the fourth quarter. The Lakers had third-and-3 and went to the right side with running back Sam Bullock, and he was stopped in his tracks by Falcons junior defensive end Tyler Lehane. On fourth down, Apponequet tried his side again, and Lehane was among the first to bring down Nate Michael (100 yards on 24 carries) a yard short. With the Lakers driving on their last possession, Justen Galego made a key sack followed by a deflected pass from defensive back Bryan Rocha to help erase any hopes of a comeback. As well as Benvie played on offense, he was also a heavy hitter from his linebacker spot. It was an overall impressive performance by the Falcons to shut the Lakers out in the second half, although it was marred by what looks to be a serious knee injury to captain Ethan Berry, a two-way starter at running back and linebacker.
PULLING THE STRING
Benvie said afterward that the Falcons ran the same play seven straight times to open those massive holes along the left side of the line. He credited senior guards Dan Carroll (6-3, 210) and Galego (6-0, 230), one of five D-R captains, for pulling out in front and making the key blocks out of the Wing-T formation. Massive tackle Chuddy Nwachukwu (6-6, 325) also deserves credit for coming down and collapsing the edge. The Falcons should have success with that play all year long because the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Benvie is like an offensive lineman with better wheels. Not many players will want to come up and try and tackle the bruising runner.
Apponequet has an excellent downhill runner in Michael, who is hard-nosed, keeps a low center of gravity and shrugs off tacklers well. But maybe the most fun player to watch is Nanfelt, who is listed at 5-foot-6, 150 pounds. He could be smaller than that, but he plays huge. A few years ago a local coach described one of his running backs as “a knuckleballer,” because he doesn’t move at a lightning pace but is so hard to get a piece of with his quick feet. That’s Nanfelt. His touchdown run was a thing of beauty. The play originally was designed to go to the left, but he dipped around the D-R defense and made a nice cutback to score along the right sideline. Some kids have great vision, others don’t. Nanfelt has it and is a pleasure to watch.
Dighton-Rehoboth (2-0) 0 6 8 7 - 21
Apponequet (1-1) 0 7 0 0 - 7
A - Zach Nanfelt 28 run (Nanfelt kick)
D - Adam Benvie 7 run (kick failed)
D - Benvie 41 run (Benvie rush)
D - Benvie 49 run (Mason Hinken kick)