Bishop Stang football tops Dartmouth in nail-biter rivalry game
The Bishop Stang football team topped crosstown rivals Dartmouth High in a “Battle of Slocum Road” that came down to the wire on Friday night.
In what was a mostly defensive affair, Bishop Stang’s Michael Golden secured the team’s victory by blocking a Dartmouth field goal in the closing seconds of the game to maintain a 7-9 lead.
“When the game’s on the line, you’ve got to make plays,” said Bishop Stang Head Coach Dennis Golden. “And they were able to make plays. So we are certainly grateful for that.”
Dartmouth opened the scoring late in the first quarter with a long touchdown run from senior Jared Abreu that put the team ahead 7-0 after a successful PAT kick.
But Stang fought back quickly, marching down the field with the help of some long runs from senior quarterback Luca Cincotta.
Michael Golden — who would later make the game-saving field goal block — punched in the team’s only touchdown on a short run early in the second quarter.
Though neither team would score another touchdown, the second half was not without its highlights and clutch moments.
After trading field position for most of the second and third quarters, Bishop Stang got some traction on a late-third-quarter drive.
A long run from sophomore Dominic Cavallo got the team down to the 10-yard line where they seemed to be on the brink of another touchdown. But Dartmouth made an impressive goal line stand that led their opponents to settle for a field goal.
On the ensuing kickoff, Stang junior Wyatt Bergeron kicked it short, catching Dartmouth off guard and allowing his team to recover the onside kick.
But Dartmouth did not let their opponents take the momentum for long.
Just a few plays into the drive, Dartmouth forced a fumble and recovered the ball to give its offense a short field and a sterling opportunity to retake the lead.
Bishop Stang was not going down without a fight, though.
After Dartmouth narrowly converted a long third down at midfield, they quickly found themselves facing fourth and long.
With only five minutes remaining and the game on the line, Dartmouth’s junior quarterback Nikko Morris rolled out to his right and tried to find junior running back Louie Freitas on an out route. But Stang junior Eli Ikkela was ready, undercutting the route and leaping into the air to swat down the pass.
In a continuance of the defensive dominance that characterized the second half, Dartmouth forced Bishop Stang into a three-and-out on the next possession, giving the team one last chance to win the game.
With just three minutes left, Dartmouth fought its way down field in fits and spurts.
A long run on fourth down not only kept the team alive, but put them within scoring range as the clock continued to tick down.
But the comeback was not to be as the Dartmouth offense stalled out and lined up to kick a field goal.
Golden was able to slip through the line unblocked on the attempt and found himself in the backfield as Dartmouth’s kicker was winding up to send the ball through the uprights.
The blocked kick was returned over 50 yards to the Dartmouth 25, where Bishop Stang ran out the clock in victory formation.
“I thought both defenses played really hard,” said Dartmouth Head Coach Rick White, who called the second half a “chess match” between the two teams.
White said the team would look to “clean up the mistakes” this week as it prepares for a home game against New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High next Thursday, Sept. 15 at 7 p.m.
“We’ve definitely got to work on offensively executing better in the run game and in the pass game a little bit,” he said.
Coach Golden said he was happy to see Stang come away with a victory over their cross town rivals, but was impressed with the way both teams played.
“It’s a big game, there’s no getting around that,” he said. “I thought Dartmouth’s kids played with a ton of heart tonight, I thought our kids did too. It was two high school football teams going at it hard tonight.”
Bishop Stang’s next game will be next Friday, Sept. 16 at Old Rochester.