On a brisk, yet beautiful, Saturday, the atmosphere at the Belmont High School turf was packed with excitement and expectation. The time for the eagerly awaited rivalry game against Watertown had come once again, when the team celebrated their season with a Thanksgiving special. From the BHS marching band to the Cheerleaders, as well as the student-filled bleachers, the Belmont pride was contagious, affecting everyone watching the game. The sense of reunion was eminent among the alumni coming to visit their old high school, seeing their old friends who went off to colleges and businesses.
Despite the Belmont pride, the Marauders fell early, giving up two early scores to the Red Raiders in the first quarter. Although the Red Raiders drew first blood, the Marauders did not simply go down without a fight. Benjamin Jones (#34), also one of the team captains, scored on a 33-yard rushing touchdown before the 2nd Quarter to put the Marauders back in the hunt. This made the game 14-7, after Aidan Cadogan’s extra point try. A one-possession game, the Red Raiders answered by successfully defending against a Marauder fake punt at midfield. With the ball in Marauder territory, they managed to drive down the field, but the Marauder defensive front forced them to kick a FG. Connor Kennelly (#28), the junior kicker for the Red Raiders, successfully kicked it from 41 yards out, making the game 17-7.
On the following drive, the Marauders drove down the field to midfield where they faced a 3rd and long conversion. In shotgun formation, senior varsity captain, Cal Christofori (#14) dropped back to pass, targeted to junior receiver Will Ellet (#86), on a seam route down the middle of the field. The pass was intercepted by Mange Camara (#21), and returned to Red Raider’s 40 yd line, giving Watertown the opportunity to make it a three-possession game, with a touchdown. Shockingly, the Belmont defense gave up a touchdown to Vasken Kebabjian (#9) on the first play of that drive of a 60 yd rushing TD. With the extra point try, the game seemed to be out of reach at a score of 24-7, and some Belmont fans departed from the game, dispirited. The Marauders failed to score before the half, and Watertown fans rejoiced, smelling victory.
The climax of the game was the second half. After a magnificent show from the BHS marching band, the Marauders came roaring back. Tyler Reynolds returned the second half kickoff for 19 yds, setting the Marauders up within the 30-yd line. On the first offensive play of the second half, Jones carried the ball, bounced to the outside, broke two tackles, and beat the Watertown safeties in a foot race with a 71-yd rushing touchdown. However, the ensuing extra point was blocked, leaving the score at 24-13. The Belmont defense managed to stop the Red Raiders and force them to punt on the next Watertown possession. With the ball back, the Marauders marched down the field to Red Raiders territory, helped by a defensive PI. Facing a 4th and 1, fullback Adam Deese (#45) powered through for the first down, keeping the drive alive. Christofori completed another pass to Jake Pollock (#84), a 6’4″ junior wideout for a 7 yd completion. After a few plays, Jones rushed in for a touchdown from 1st and goal, but due to a holding penalty, the TD was called back. Facing a 3rd and goal from the 11 yd line, Jones took it to the house again, his 3rd rushing TD of the day, making it 24-20 with the extra point.
The Red Raiders answered with a quick score from Vasken Kebabjian, his 2nd rushing touchdown from midfield, widening the Red Raiders lead to 31-20, with 1:40 left in the 3rd. Down by 11 points, the Marauders quickened their pace. Resorting to long passes, Christofori connected with Ellet, an incredible diving catch by the junior receiver. Stuffed on a few run plays, Christofori converts a 4th and inches with a QB sneak to keep the drive alive. A few plays later, Marauders faced a 4th and Goal at the 1-yd line. Deese powered through once again, for his first rushing TD of the day, making the score 31-26. To close the lead to 3, the Marauders successfully converted a 2-pt conversion to Ben Jones. From a 14 point deficit, the Marauders had bounced back to show surprising toughness and grit.
On the next Watertown possession, Vasken Kebabjian, the explosive running back once again made a big play, running the ball inside the 10yd line. However, the Marauders ended an excellent defensive string, forcing them to kick a field goal after a Marauder sack on 3rd and goal. The kicker barely got it over, increasing the lead to 34-28, with 3:15 left in the game. Tyler Reynolds returned the kickoff to the 33-yd line, where the Marauders took over. They marched down the field to Watertown territory, converting two first downs on the way. However, with 1:41 left to play, Christofori threw an interception to cornerback Isaac Huff, intended for Pollock on a cross route. Huff, a Red Raider captain, made an incredible one-handed catch, despite controversy on a defensive pass interference before the interception. The Red Raiders lined up in victory formation to end the thrilling game, one in which the Marauders displayed intense perseverance.