The Winthrop Vikings showed grit, poise and improvement last Friday night at Miller Field, as they fought back from a 12-7 halftime deficit to score three touchdowns in the third quarter and grab their first win of the season, 29-12.
“It was a tremendous win for us and something we needed to springboard us into our season and a big game that we have this weekend at Beverly,” said head coach Sean Driscoll.
Marblehead scored with seven seconds to go in the first half, on a 28-yard pass play to take a 12-7 lead and deflate the Vikings at the end of the second quarter. However, the home team found some new energy during the break and returned the game ready to play and then got a spark from Reuben Powell, as the junior took the opening kick-off down inside the Marblehead 20 yard line.
“We got really great field position from Reuben’s return and then Mitchell Paulson got us the lead back on an eight yard run,“ said Driscoll.
Phil LoCigno converted the two-point play and Winthrop had a 15-12 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, it was Powell again who ignited the Vikings, as he collected a Marblehead fumble of the kickoff deep in the Magicians end, and Winthrop had great field position once again. Jordan Corbett-Frank capped the drive with a 17-yard run to the end zone and after an extra point by Quinton Dale, the Vikings led 22-12.
Dale has converted his last five extra point kicks, giving the Vikings the confidence they can add the extra point when it is needed.
“From there, our defense stepped up and made some stops,” said Driscoll.
Following a Marblehead three and out, Winthrop got the ball back looking to put the game away and it didn’t take long, as senior quarterback Jimmy Barker connected with junior tight end Dave Capone on a 62-yard completion and a 29-12 Vikings lead. Winthrop again forced Marblehead to punt the ball away, with about a minute to go in the third quarter and then the Vikings offense took possession and refused to give it back. The ensuing Winthrop drive took 16 plays, more than 11minutes of game time and the Vikings knelt out the final second to seal the win, never having relinquished the ball through the entire fourth quarter.
“I think that last possession really showed that our team is learning how to finish off an opponent,” said Driscoll. “They played really good football at the end.”
In addition to the big pass play in the third quarter, Barker also put Winthrop on the scoreboard first, on a one-yard quarterback keeper in the first quarter, leading to a 7-0 Winthrop lead.
For the day Barker completed 4 of 7 passes for 11 yards and the TD and also rushed eight times for 42 yards and a score.
Mitchell Paulson had 13 rushes for 44 yards and a touchdown, Corbett-Frank added 54 yards and a touchdown on his 13 carries and Capone totaled three catches for 103 yards and a touchdown. LoCignbo had 40 yards of total offense, rushing and receiving.
“I also want to praise the work of Jimmy Barker on defense and single out freshman Tyler Gillis, who was making his first start for us and played a good, solid game,” said Driscoll. “I think we’re going to see some good things from (Gillis) and he could turn out to be a pretty special player, if he continues to develop the way he has so far.”
Next up for the Vikings are the Beverly Panthers at Beverly, on Saturday afternoon, October 1 at 1:30 p.m.
“They have one of the best young backfields I’ve seen in quite a while and it’s going to be a real challenge for us to contain them,” said Driscoll. “But, we’ve had a couple of really good days of practice, coming off the win the team is very focused and we’ll see what we can do.”
Following the Beverly game, the Vikings will have a quick turnaround, as they will play their next game after Beverly on Thursday, October 6 at Weston High at 7 p.m.