Story and photo courtesy of Massachusetts Maritime
CASTINE, Maine - Senior Barry Reopell (South Dennis, Mass.) rushed for 102 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns as Massachusetts Maritime used three unanswered second half scores to post a 42-23 New England Football Conference Bogan Division victory over Maine Maritime in the 40th Annual Admiral’s Cup played Saturday afternoon at Ritchie Field.
The two squads played to a wild 21-21 draw at the break before Reopell’s two-yard plunge capped a 12-play, 66-yard second half opening drive that gave the visiting Buccaneers (4-3, 3-2 NEFC Bogan) the lead for good at 27-21. The host Mariners (0-7, 0-5 NEFC Bogan) were in position to tie or take the lead after engineering a 14-play, 71-yard drive that took them to the Massachusetts Maritime 1-yard line, but an ensuing fumble recovered by junior Robert Gratzer (Pembroke, Mass.) enabled the Buccaneers to hold on to the lead, and the visitors capitalized by driving 99 yards on nine plays and using a four-yard touchdown run by sophomore quarterback John Trudel (Niantic, Conn.) to take a 35-21 advantage with 13:04 to play in the contest. Maine Maritime again drove deep into Massachusetts Maritime territory on its ensuing possession, but another Mariner fumble at the Buccaneer 4-yard line was recovered by sophomore Richard Ford (Lynn, Mass.), and after an exchange of possessions, the visitors iced their second straight Admiral’s Cup triumph when sophomore Austin Pierce (Peabody, Mass.) scampered in from four yards out with 3:33 remaining.
Maine Maritime jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead when junior Billy Wetherbee (Veazie, Maine) plunged in from a yard out to cap a 12-play, 61-yard drive off the opening kickoff, but Massachusetts Maritime responded with 64-yard drive that Trudel capped with a six-yard run for a 7-6 Mariner lead. Wetherbee’s 36-yard touchdown run on the hosts’ ensuing possession extended Maine Maritime’s lead to 14-6, but Reopell’s first scoring run of the day from 28 yards out, coupled with a two-point conversion rush from junior Keith Caruso (Hingham, Mass.), enabled the Buccaneers to forge a 14-14 tie. The Mariners capitalized on a fumbled punt deep inside the visitors’ territory to take their final lead of the day at 21-14 on a one-yard touchdown plunge from sophomore quarterback Bradley Reed (Belfast, Maine) with 8:45 remaining in the half, but Massachusetts Maritime answered back on the next play, as sophomore Bobby Rosano (North Reading, Mass.) returned the kickoff 91 yards (the third longest such return in school history) for the tying score just 10 seconds later. Maine Maritime had two chances to take the lead into intermission off a pair of interceptions, but the Mariners were unable to score after driving to the Buccaneer 20, setting up the visitors’ second half scoring surge.
Reopell’s second 100-plus yard performance in the last three weeks was part of 205 yards on the ground for Massachusetts Maritime, which also received 77 yards from Pierce on the day. Junior quarterback Mike Stanton (Quincy, Mass.) completed 16-of-23 attempts for 202 yards to go over the 2,000 yard mark (2,025) on the season, while Trudel collected 79 yards of total offense to go with his two scores for the Buccaneers, who also received eight catches for 90 yards from sophomore E.J. Bennett (East Wareham, Mass.). Wetherbee rushed for 139 yards on 28 carries to go with his two touchdowns in the setback for Maine Maritime, as Reed completed 5-of-12 attempts for 71 yards for the Mariners, as Massachusetts Maritime outgained the hosts by a 476-349 advantage in total offense for the contest.
Sophomore Reynard Ortiz (Lowell, Mass.) paced the Buccaneers defensively with 13 total tackles (eight solo), while freshman Matthew King (Scituate, Mass.) registered a career-high 12 total tackles (10 solo) to go with a forced fumble and a pass break-up. Sophomore Zachary Ryan (Danvers, Mass.) added nine total stops (seven solo) and a pair of sacks for the winners, who also received interceptions from seniors Eddy Ramos (Sunny Isles, Fla.) and Evan Sheridan (Chelmsford, Mass.). The victory was Massachusetts Maritime’s first over the Mariners in Castine since a 15-13 triumph in 2002, as the Buccaneers have claimed the Admiral’s Cup in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2001-2002.
Senior Brock Lawrence (Benton, Maine) paced Maine Maritime defensively with 12 total tackles (10 solo), while the hosts also received 10 total stops (eighty solo) and an interception from junior Alex Hermes (Fallsington, Pa.).
Massachusetts Maritime hosts Westfield State in a New England Football Conference Bogan Division match-up next Saturday afternoon at Clean Harbors Stadium beginning at Noon, while Maine Maritime heads to Bridgewater, Mass. to take on Bridgewater State in an NEFC Bogan Division clash that also kicks off at Noon.