The Winthrop Vikings limped into their second game of the season at Lynn English missing two-thirds of the starting backfield that helped them to a big win over Salem in week one. By the time they finished the game, they had also lost their starting middle linebacker.
“We went into the game without two of our big senior contributors, in fullback J.P. Doherty and running back Frank Ambrosino,” said head coach Sean Driscoll. “Then during the game, junior linebacker Joe Boudrow [broken leg] was injured and he will be lost for the season. We hope to get Ambrosino back in a few weeks, and Doherty may only have to miss one game, if everything goes well.”
Driscoll noted that the absence of Ambrosino and Doherty may actually have cost the Vikings the game against Lynn English, because the team was unable to run some of the plays and formations it would normally have run against the bigger Bulldog team.
“Even with the injuries, we can’t use that as an excuse,” said Driscoll. “Our kids came out and played hard. We got down early, and thanks to some great special team play, we climbed back into the game, but we just couldn’t get over the hump.”
The Bulldogs sprinted out to an early 21-0, but an 81-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and a 55-yard punt return for a touchdown, both by junior running back Nick McCarthy, helped the Vikings close the gap to 21-14, and the Vikings were back in the game.
“That’s when the penalties started to hurt us,” said Driscoll.
The Vikings had a 65-yard touchdown run by McCarthy called back on a phantom illegal blocking penalty just before the half. Had the score stood, the Vikings would have entered the half, tied.
Then, in the second half, after Lynn English put another score on the board, the Vikings again had a touchdown called back on a penalty. The second time, an 80-yard screen pass to McCarthy from senior quarterback Will Milano, was called back on a block in the back downfield.
“The second penalty was definitely valid. It was just a dumb penalty to take, and it cost us a score,” said Driscoll. “When we play bigger teams, we have to play an almost perfect game and mistakes like that can come back to haunt you. It just seemed like we were chasing seven points all day long.”
The Vikings did eventually score on a pass from Milano to Robert Deeb.
Overall, on the day, Milano completed 10 of 21 passes for 163 yards and one touchdown, against four interceptions.
“One of the interceptions was on a Hail Mary play at the end of the first half, and another was a tough play on a ball that got tipped by the receiver, but it was not Will [Milano’s] best day,” said Driscoll.
McCarthy, despite the big plays on special teams, found the going a lot tougher between the tackles, as he had just 17 yards on 16 carries. Chris Strangie, filling in for Ambrosino, had six rushing attempts for 25 yards, and fullback Joe Clougherty picked up six yards on four rushes.
The receiving stats were slightly better, as McCarthy had five catches for 64 yards. Deeb had three catches for 83 yards, and a touchdown, and Mark Jenkins (18 yards) and Clougherty each had one reception.
“Our Black Shirt winner was Robert Deeb for the second game in a row. He really had a good game against the run – the whole team did, actually,” said Driscoll. “I thought we played very well against English’s running game, but we had some trouble, giving up big plays in the passing game, and their quarterback wound up throwing for all four of their touchdowns.”
Other defensive highlights for the game include Nick Doonan, who had a pair of sacks, and Michael Caputo, who hauled in a fourth quarter interception that led to the Vikings final points of the game.
Driscoll noted that playing at Gloucester this week will present a special challenge for the Vikings, especially with Ambrosino, Boudrow and Doherty all having been ruled out for this week’s game already.
“Gloucester is a good football program and it is an exciting place to play. It will really be a challenge, but we’ve traditionally battled them pretty well up there, so I’m sure it will be a good game,” said Driscoll.
Kickoff for the Fishermen game will be at 7 p.m.