The Mt. Hope football suffered a heartbreaking 27-28 loss to Johnston during the team’s homecoming game on Friday night. The loss dropped the Huskies Division III record to 1-3 and 2-3 …
The Mt. Hope football suffered a heartbreaking 27-28 loss to Johnston during the team’s homecoming game on Friday night. The loss dropped the Huskies Division III record to 1-3 and 2-3 overall.
Senior running back Ben Calouro snared a screen pass from quarterback Riley Howland and sprinted 78 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to 27-28 with three minutes left in the game. The Huskies looked to trusty place kicker Jerry Pimental who hadn’t missed an extra point all season to even the score. The sophomore set and signaled for the snap. The Panthers rush burst through the Huskies line and blocked the kick. Johnston held on to run out the clock and win the game.
“It was a fast flying start. Just what we wanted,” said Huskies head coach Thomas DelSanto Jr. “We scored on our first possession. We attacked. We didn’t huddle, we used our hurry up offense.”
Mt. Hope scored on each of their first three possessions to race out to a 21-0 first quarter lead. Calouro rushed for 54 yards and two touchdowns along with the 78 yard touchdown catch and senior running back Brock Pacheco rushed for 117 yards and a score.
“I saw the holes well and we were making great plays,” said Pacheco, the Huskies senior captain. Pacheco now has 667 yards rushing from scrimmage and is on pace to possibly break 1000 yards for the season.
“That’s my goal, said Pacheco. “It would be amazing. I just want to keep moving the ball on offense and yeah, 1000 would be amazing for me. A perfect way to end my high school career.”
Huskies run out to a 21-0 lead
The Huskies started their first drive on their own 30 yard line. Junior quarterback Riley Howland handed off to Pacheco and he rammed through the Johnston line for a 38-yard run to the Panthers 32 yard line. Calouro took it from there and rambled into the end zone on their second play from scrimmage for a touchdown. Pimental’s extra point kick gave the Huskies a 7-0 lead.
“Ben is a perfect fit for our offense,” Pacheco said. “He is always good for breaking big plays, every game.”
On their next possession, Howland methodically directed an eleven play drive that ended in Pacheco’s seven yard score. Pimental booted his second point after, through the uprights, for a Mt. Hope 14-0 lead with 2:56 left in the first quarter.
“It was a long sustained drive. We put some plays together and felt good about where we stood,” said Coach DelSanto. “We didn’t think it was going to end up like this.”
It took the Huskies seven plays from their own 45 yard line to reach the end zone at the start of the second quarter. Howland handed off to Calouro and he ran off-tackle for a 6-yard touchdown run. Pimental kicked his third extra point to give Mt. Hope a 21-0 lead.
“We had some key breakdowns in coverage before the half,” said Coach DelSanto. “We got a bit complacent. Johnston finished the half strong, had momentum and we got caught flat-footed.”
Johnston Arial assault scores two touchdowns before the half
Johnston quarterback Neari Vasquez with nothing to lose, began an arial assault that the Huskies couldn’t stop. Vasquez heaved a forty-yard bomb to wide receiver Jahaziel Rodriguez who ran by sophomore cornerback Ethan Martel on a fly route. Martel finally dragged him down at the 1 yard line. After a penalty and three plays later the Panthers ran it into the end zone to cut the lead to 21-6.
The Huskies next drive stalled at the Panthers 40 yard line and Vasquez struck again, heaving another bomb to the lightning-fast Rodriguez. Mt. Hope cornerback Jason Teeden pushed him out of bounds at the 15 yard line. Vasquez threw a fade to Rodriguez that he pulled in on the right corner of the end zone for their second touchdown of the quarter. The Panthers quarterback hit Rodriguez over the middle for a two point conversion to cut the lead to 21-14 just before halftime.
More bombs from both teams
The second half featured throwing scores from both teams. Johnston received the ball first and Vasquez went back to the air, heaving a third bomb to Rodriguez, running a post pattern. The receiver caught the perfect pass over Huskies lanky sophomore Evan Rodrigues who promptly tackled him at the 15 yard line. The Panthers were knocking at the door again, but Martel recovered a fumbled snap at the 2 yard line for the Huskies.
Johnston kept Mt. Hope hemmed in and junior punter Michael Lombardi had to punt from the end zone. Lombardi quickened his step as the Panthers rush ensued and he booted the ball off the side of his foot. The ball bounded out toward the 10 yard line and Johnston recovered. Four plays later Vasquez found Steven Finnegan for a touchdown to cut the lead to 21-20.
On their next possession, Vasquez and the Panthers gashed their way through the tired Huskies defense. They ran 60 yards in nine plays that ended in a 9-yard touchdown run by running back Dylan Martins. A two-yard conversion gave Johnston their first lead of the night 28-21.
Mt. Hope answers with a touchdown
Pacheco ran the Johnston kick off back to the Huskies 45 yard line, but it was placed back at the 19, due to a blocking penalty.
The Huskies were desperate for a big play on third down and 7 on their 22 yard line and Coach DelSanto gave them the answer.
Howland faked, rolled right and threw a screen pass to Calouro in the flat. He caught the pass in space slipped out from behind blocking teammate Derick Case and turned on the jets, all the way to the end zone for a 78 yard touchdown as they cut Johnston’s lead 27-28.
“That was a great play by Riley, Ben and the offense,” said Coach DelSanto. “I really felt like we set ourselves up to tie the game.”
The Huskies elected to have Pimental attempt to kick the extra point, but Johnston blocked the kick and ran out the clock.
“It was a breakdown in protection, said Coach DelSanto. “Something that we have to get better at.”