Whaler Football Wins Triple Overtime Thriller Against Sandwich

The Whaler football team found themselves needing a win over the Sandwich Blue Knights Saturday afternoon in order to put themselves in a position to make the state tournament. The Blue Knights beat Nantucket soundly on the island last year 30-9, so the Whalers knew going in they had very little room for error in this game. Nantucket rode the highs and lows of the game with poise, taking care of business in a triple overtime thriller 34-26 to improve their record to 3-2. Nantucket’s star running back Justin Bloise finished the day with three rushing touchdowns on 20 carries for 114 yards and a fourth touchdown on a 37-yard reception.

“At halftime I say to them if we lose today fellas and we don’t have what it takes today, right now, in the next half, we are going home and we are making turkey pot pies,” Whaler head coach Joe Perry said. “I said we can stop at Stop & Shop right now and get the turkey, the vegetables, but you guys get the crust because it’s over. The playoffs aren’t happening. We have to man up and play football in the second half.”

The game was sealed in the third overtime after Bloise scored his fourth touchdown of the game on a two-yard run to put Sandwich in a score or go home situation. Blue Knights quarterback Brady Carroll took the first down snap, rolled to his right to make the throw to his receiver running a whip route, but Whaler defensive back Sean Murphy jumped the route and intercepted the pass to win Nantucket the game.

“That in-and-out route that receiver ran, that’s my in and out route. I know that route by heart,” Murphy said. “That is my number one route, my go to, and all I was thinking about was once I caught the ball wanting to run all the way to the end zone. I was trying to run. But I got tangled up and went down. It was the best feeling in the world.”

But the Whalers had to handle plenty of adversity that took place earlier in the game to reach that point.

The Whalers and Blue Knights both went scoreless in the opening quarter, but Sandwich’s senior running back Patrick Morin scored two minutes into the second quarter to give the Blue Knights a 7-0 lead.

Sandwich scored again to make it 14-0 four minutes later, but Bloise scored his first touchdown of the day on a 20-yard run to cut the deficit to 14-7. The Blue Knights scored another to extend the lead to 20-7 just before halftime after Carroll ripped off a 60-yard run to put Sandwich in the red zone before punching it in.

The Whalers looked like a much different team in the second half. They shut out Sandwich in the third and fourth quarters after some defensive adjustments by Nantucket’s defensive coordinator Mark Willett.

“We put Jayquan Francis on what we call a monster back and we shadowed their quarterback,” Willett said. “We were able to stop all of those big runs. Then I took Ryan Downey and I moved him from linebacker to defensive tackle to get some more speed up front. For these kids to keep going like this was impressive. The changes and adjustments worked since they didn’t score in the second half until overtime, but I probably should have made those adjustments sooner.”

Bloise scored on a two-yard run but missed the extra point, making it a 20-13 game five minutes into the third quarter. The Whalers wouldn’t do much on offense again for the reminder of the quarter.

It was four minutes into the final quarter when Nantucket got another spark that set them up for an opportunity to tie the game. Carroll tried to take a deep shot down the right sideline to put the game game out of reach, but Bloise was up to the task, intercepting the pass and giving Nantucket another offensive drive with eight minutes left in the game.

“I told Justin today before the game and yesterday before practice ‘you’re the guy man,’” Perry said. “You need to carry this team. That’s the man and he carried the team today.”

Nantucket quarterback Carlos Aguilar, who had an excellent second half with two touchdown passes, found Bloise for a 35-yard connection to tie the game at 20. Bloise was double covered on the play but showed off his vertical by out-leaping both defenders and reaching over their shoulders to come down with the catch.

The play was set up by a beautiful 54-yard pass from Aguilar to receiver JJ Bennett, who was forced out of the game with an injury for two quarters. It brought Nantucket across midfield and provided a boost to his teammates.

“I don’t think we win that game and complete the comeback if JJ doesn’t come back,” Bloise said. “I think seeing him come back onto the field gave us some swagger.”

Sandwich responded nicely to Bloise’s touchdown catch by driving down the field in the final minutes of regulation. They seemed positioned to nail a chip-in field goal attempt as time expired inside the five-yard line, but Whaler safety Garner Ray came off the edge, snuck by the Blue Knight’s protection, and blocked the kick to force overtime.

“Garner is such a tough kid,” Murphy said. “You’ll never meet a tougher kid than number 18, remember that.”

Neither Nantucket nor Sandwich scored in the first overtime. Both teams scored in the second overtime, with Morin running one in for Sandwich and Aguilar finding Bennett for his second touchdown pass of the day on a 10-yard fade. The third overtime was when Bloise got the job done on the offensive end of things for Nantucket while Murphy sealed it on the defense’s end.

“It was a really good team effort and so much credit needs to go to Wally Lester, who is conditioning us five days per week,” Bloise said. “I’ll say sometimes we really don’t like it but if we hadn’t done that conditioning we definitely would have lost this game. He told us if we didn’t win today we were definitely going to be running on Monday.”

Perry said he believes his team built a lot of confidence during Saturday’s classic that they can use to their advantage in two weeks against Martha’s Vineyard in the Island Cup on Nantucket, but also in the playoffs. Perry added that he felt like one area where his team was very good in the second half was with their communication and teamwork.

“They didn’t play for the guy on the back of their jersey or the guy on the front of their driver’s license,” Perry said. “They played for each other. They played for the Nantucket Whalers and for the other 10guys on the field with them. Best game of the year. Best game in many, many years. We are going to walk off this field with a little swagger, celebrate for a little bit, and gear up for the Vineyard.”

The Island Cup is scheduled to kick off on Saturday, October 30, at 2 pm at Vito Capizzo Stadium.

Written By
More from David Creed

Nantucket Winter Sports Schedules Released

The Whaler fall sports season is in the rearview mirror, which means...
Read More