- Scott Barboza, ESPN Staff Writer
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BRIDGEWATER, Mass. – It’s called the smart money, and if Barnstable football minted its own currency, it would read: “In Hayden Murphy We Trust,” as Red Raiders senior quarterback Kristian Lucashensky put it Friday night.
Facing a fourth-and-1 at Bridgewater-Raynham’s 48-yard line with a little more than a minute remaining in another Old Colony league classic, there was a debate on Barnstable’s sideline. The initial play call in the huddle during the Red Raiders’ timeout was for a pass play. But, instead, they went to what was reliable.
In looking to move the chains and living to see another play, Barnstable found its salvation with its gold-standard play, with Murphy taking the cut-back on an inside zone run 48 yards to the end zone, providing the game-winning score in a 20-14 comeback win.
“That’s our basic run play, we probably ran it fifteen times today,” Red Raiders head coach Chris Whidden said. “Yeah, we’re just trying to get the first down because we only had a minute left and one timeout, so we had to get the first down and stop the clock. ... Guys up front made the block and Hayden saw that cut-back lane and he’s tough to catch in the open field.”
Murphy was held relatively in check through the first half, but collected 90 of his 123 rushing yards (14 carries) in the second half. After spying on the 6-foot-2, 205-pound back through the first half, Murphy found enough separation in the second half to run for two scores, including the game-changer.
Barnstable (5-1, 1-0 OCL) engineered its game winning drive after taking over on its own 22 with 2:43 remaining. Lucashensky was at his best on the drive, completing all four passes for 29 yards, giving the Red Raiders a shot at the end zone.
However, when Barnstable was fortunate enough to recover a fumble on a third-down play at its 49, and after a 3-yard run by Murphy, the Red Raiders were faced with a fourth-and-1.
“We’ve got a lot of strong, big bodies up front that we have a lot of faith in,” Whidden said, “and we feel like, if we need a yard, we’re going to be able to get it, no matter how many guys you bring in the box.
He continued, “We leave one guy unblocked and that’s Kristian [Lucashensky’s] job to read him and, he saw the give. I don’t know if he made the right read or not, not until I see the film, but based on the final score, I’ll give him the read for tonight.”
Barnstable’s offense sputtered in the early going, with the Trojans (4-2, 1-1) forcing a fumble, an interception and a turnover on downs through the Red Raiders’ first three offensive series. Conversely, B-R claimed the first lead of the game on Brandon Gallagher’s 10-yard touchdown run at 2:43 of the first quarter.
The Red Raiders came back to tie it in the second quarter, when Justus Chaffee (6 carries, 59 yards) ripped off a 23-yard touchdown run for a 6-6 score, after the teams’ respective 2-point and point-after tries failed.
B-R regained the lead just before the half with Matt Clement’s 28-yard touchdown pass to Mike Murano. Clement (12 of 16, 121 yards, TD, INT) followed with a successful 2-point conversion throw to Arcel Armstead for a 14-6 lead in the final minute of the second quarter.
Barnstable emerged rejuvenated for the second half, forcing B-R three-and-out for its first possession and then embarking on an 82-yard touchdown drive. Murphy tallied his first touchdown of the game with 2:30 remaining in the third quarter on a 29-yard run. The following 2-point conversion again failed, however, so the Red Raiders still trailed 14-12.
The teams traded possessions through the early fourth quarter, but the Red Raiders defense continued to hold. Two of B-R’s second half possessions resulted in three-and-outs. That was no small part in due to Barnstable’s run defense which slowed Gallagher (24 carries, 100 yards) just enough, surrendering just 46 combined yards on the ground in the final half.
Same ole bitter end: For the third straight year, Barnstable claimed victory over B-R – and each of those decisions has come in dramatic fashion, including last year’s 27-25 classic with the Trojans falling a missed 2-point conversion shy of forcing overtime.
For the Trojans, let make no bones about it, it’s been rough. These haven’t just been losses, they’re of the gut-wrenching variety. Friday was no exception, with Murphy playing an all-too-familiar role.
“You kinda’ knew he was going to get the ball at that point,” B-R head coach Dan Buron said of Murphy’s game-winning score. “They made the play, we didn’t.”
Yet, for Barnstable’s success when the chips were on the table, the Trojans couldn’t have scripted their start any better. Spurred by a fumble recovery by Devin Morris and a interception from Theo Barbetto on Barnstable’s first two possessions, B-R also took care of the interior gaps in the running game, minimizing Murphy’s impact through the first 22 minutes.
“They did a really good job bottling [Murphy] up all night,” Whidden said. “He didn’t have a lot of space and he didn’t really have a chance to get to that second gear.
“They were spying Hayden, they had a guy going with Hayden the whole time. We wanted to see the look they would give us if we put Hayden outside, and they covered him with a guy over the top. In that case, we have enough faith in Justus [Chaffee] to carry the ball.”
Bring on the closer: On the flip side, the Red Raiders defense has held up its part of the bargain. Barnstable hasn’t surrendered a second-half score since the third quarter of its 15-14 comeback win over Xaverian on Sept. 27.
Once again, the Red Raiders slammed the door shut, with midseason All-State candidate Derek Estes grabbing an interception on the Trojans’ final play.
“I think they’re one of the best defenses in the state,” Lucashensky said. “They always shut out teams in the second half. We trust them.”