In front of a packed crowd at Mt. Hope’s Thomas Vendituoli Complex on Thanksgiving morning, the Barrington Eagles and the Mt. Hope Huskies waged a gridiron battle, exchanging the lead nearly as often as they exchanged possession.
It wasn’t until the final 47 seconds that the Division 1 Eagles claimed a hard fought 25-20 victory over their Division 2 rivals.
“You did a great job coming out of the cellar of despair,” head coach William McCagney told the team after the game. “You worked hard during the season, you worked hard in the off season. This is the reward.”
With less than a minute to play in the fourth quarter, Mt. Hope’s Kyle Valenzuela hit Tevin Jones with a 15-yard touchdown pass that put the Huskies up 20-19.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Barrington’s John Meehan returned the ensuing kick-off to the Mt. Hope 35 yard line. Two plays later Eagles’ quarterback Jacob Simons threw a 7-yard touchdown to fullback JR Martin, giving Barrington the win.
Huskies’ head coach Brian Cote said he was proud of the way his team played against the Division 1 Eagles.
“We showed Barrington a game we haven’t shown them in years,” he said. “If we had the ball for another series we would have won this football game.”
Barrington received the ball to start the game and quickly took a 7-0 lead as Simons connected with Meehan for a touchdown. Meehan then kicked for the extra point giving the Eagles a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter.
The Huskies tied the game after defensive end Joshua Hunt recovered an Eagles’ fumble. On the scoring drive that followed, Jesse Raiola moved the ball to the 1 yard line, and then barreled into the end zone a play later. The Huskies’ Corey Gendreau kicked the extra point to tie the game at 7-7.
The Eagles took a 10-7 lead later in the half. Mt. Hope threatened to score again, but Barrington’s Ted Jones picked off a Valenzuela pass. Mt. Hope’s Nick Murgo tackled Jones after a short run-back. Simons connected on a pass to wide receiver Jack Kelly at the 4 yard line, and Meehan kicked a field goal to give Barrington a 13-7 half-time edge.
Raiola rambled for 61 yards to start the second half, and caught a pass for another gain. The hard-running tailback then knotted the game at 13-13 on a short touchdown run. Jacob Silva kicked for the extra point giving the Huskies the lead, 14-13.
The Eagles took the lead back on their ensuing drive, as Simons hit Jack Kelly for a touchdown. Mt. Hope’s David Ramos blocked the extra point attempt, leaving the score 19-14.
The Huskies answered with their scoring drive, but Barrington grabbed the win with the last-minute Simons-to-Martin TD.
After the game, Mr. Cote recognized the Eagles for their success.
“They did a great job finding open receivers. You’ve got to give them credit,” he said.
With the win, the Eagles returned the Pierce Donovan Memorial Cup to Barrington. For their outstanding efforts in the game, the Eagles’ Jacob Simons and the Huskies’ Nick Murgo won trophies for Players of the Game.
The Thanksgiving Day game between the Barrington Eagles and the Mt. Hope Huskies will be broadcast on COX Cable Television, channel 18 on Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 29 at 5 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 2 at 2 p.m.