Football: Malden vs. Somerville Game Recap

On Friday September 30th, The Malden High Golden Tornadoes hosted the Somerville Highlanders at MacDonald Stadium for their fourth game of the season.

Coming into the game Malden High had a 0-3 record, losing some close games down the stretch. They needed to turn their season around to gain some Momentum heading into mid-season. The weather however, did not seem to be on the side of the Tornadoes. Due to the rain many of the supporters were not able to attend the game which essentially negated the Tornadoes of their home-field advantage. However, despite tough conditions, the Tornadoes were able to win the game 25-19 thanks to a big performance by junior, Isaiah Likely and pick-6 by junior, Marlon Cook with 3:02 left in the game.

Sophomore Kamerin Williams tackling a Somerville player. Photo by Abhishek Rana.
Sophomore Kamerin Williams tackling a Somerville player. Photo by Abhishek Rana.

The Highlanders started the first drive of the game at their own 25 yard line after the opening kickoff. The drive started promisingly for Somerville, the first play was a handoff  to Jr. Henry Augustine who managed to move the chains. However on the very next set of downs, the Tornado defense was able to stand strong. After a fumble recovered for a loss by the Highlanders, they decided to go deep on second down but the Tornadoes caught a big break as a sure touchdown pass was dropped by Somerville. This forced a third and long in which Malden was able to make the tackle shy of the first down. Somerville was forced to punt, and the Tornado offense took the field for their first drive of the of the game at their own 38 yard line.

After getting a first down onto Somerville territory, the Tornadoes faced a third down and six at the 42 yard line of Somerville. However, much like the Highlanders, the Tornadoes were forced to punt after junior quarterback Jared Martino was sacked, forcing a fourth and long.

The Highlanders next drive was plagued by numerous penalties by both teams. After two handoffs junior Henry Augustine, the Highlanders were already at midfield. On first and ten at the Malden 46, Highlanders completed a pass towards the Malden 30 yard line. After two straight 5 yard penalties on Malden, first for encroachment and the next for offsides, Somerville was in the redzone for the first time in the game. However on second down, an offensive holding penalty pushed the Highlanders back to 30 yard line. Somerville was helped out again after another flag on Malden for offsides, making it second and and fifteen at the Malden 25 yard line. Eventually the Tornado defense were able to force Somerville to go for it on 4th and 16, but their pass attempt was intercepted by Senior, Paccem Mosie at Malden’s 7 yard line.

Malden began the drive deep in their own territory. The Highlanders forced Malden into a fourth and inches at their own twelve yard line. However, before the down could be played, the first quarter ended scoreless.

To get something going on offense, head coach William Manchester decided to go for it in a tough situation. His decision paid off after junior quarterback, Jared Martino picked up the first down through a QB keeper. After the conversion Malden was able to get all the way to the Somerville 22 yard like, thanks to a reception from Junior Isaiah Likely who was able to take a short pass near their own 30 yard line and stiff arm a defender to get huge yards after the catch. However the trend continued, as a fifteen yard penalty on Malden backed them up again. Eventually Malden faced a 4th and 5 at the redzone, and again head coach William Manchester decided to go for it. However, this time his decision did not pay off. An endzone shot to junior, Isaiah Likely fell incomplete, forcing a turnover on downs.

Junior Jared Martino running the ball. Photo by Abhishek Rana.
Junior Jared Martino running the ball. Photo by Abhishek Rana.

The Highlanders offense took over at their own 17 yard line but were again backed up by a offensive holding, which resulted in the ball being placed half the distance to the goal. However, the penalties continued, as right after Malden got flagged for another encroachment. This made it 1st and 13 at their own 14 yard line for Somerville. However on the first official play of the drive, a Somerville receiver got in behind the Malden secondary and opened the scoreboard with an 86 yard touchdown reception. However, the Highlanders missed the extra-point giving them only six points from that drive.

With 4:58 left in the first half, Somerville attempted a surprise onside kick, but got called for an illegal touching penalty, giving the ball to the Tornadoes at the Somerville 39 yard line. After a defensive pass interference on Somerville, Malden got a first down at the redzone. Eventually Malden were forced into a fourth and goal at the Highlander 4 yard line with 14 seconds left in the half. Head coach, William Manchester again decided to go for it on fourth down. This time his decision paid off as junior quarterback Jared Martino ran it in himself for the first touchdown of the game for the Tornadoes. However much like the Highlanders, Malden also missed its extra-point attempt. The game was tied at six as time ran out in the second half.

Malden received the kickoff to begin the second half, however due to an offside penalty, the Highlanders were forced to re-kick from 5 yards back. However, after a poor return, the Tornadoes started the drive backed up, at their own 5 yard line. The tornadoes still managed to drive near midfield, but were forced to punt after junior quarterback Jared Martino was sacked on third and four. However, much like the last game another Tornado punt was blocked, meaning that the Highlander offense would take over at midfield.

Using the great field position, Somerville was able to drive all the to a first and goal at the 4 yard line. The drive was also helped out massively by more Tornado flags that moved the chains for Somerville. On first and goal, the Highlanders were able to run it in for a touchdown, and this time converted the extra point making the score 13-6, Somerville.

Just like last week’s game, the momentum of the game had turned after a blocked punt. However unlike last week, the Tornadoes responded immediately. The Tornadoes started the drive at their own 27-yard line and pounded the Highlander defense with their ground game. They drove all the way to a first and goal from the Highlander 9 yard line converting numerous third downs along the way. However, after a 2 yard loss on first down and a 10 yard holding penalty on the next snap, the Tornadoes were backed up to a second and goal from the Highlander 21 yard line. Another penalty had put the tornadoes in a tough situation but they managed to get out of it. On second and goal, the Tornadoes took a shot at the endzone, where junior, Isaiah Likely hauled in a 21 yard touchdown reception. The extra-point conversion tied the game at 13 at the end of the third quarter.

Junior Isaiah Likely celebrating after hauling in a touchdown reception. Photo by Abhishek Rana.
Junior Isaiah Likely celebrating after hauling in a touchdown reception. Photo by Abhishek Rana.

Somerville took over with great field position, thanks to a big kickoff return by junior, Lucas St. Jean to the Malden 34 yard line. Despite the great field position, the Highlanders could not capitalize on the ensuing drive. The Tornado defense forced the Highlanders to a field goal attempt from Malden’s 21 yard line. The long field goal was missed wide left by the Somerville kicker.

The Tornado offense took the field at their own 21 yard line hoping to take the lead for the first time all game. The Tornadoes did just that but this time it was the penalties on Somerville that helped them out. Back to back penalties on the Highlander defense, one for a face mask and the other for defensive pass interference, moved the ball into Somerville territory. The Tornadoes were able to drive to the Highlander 3 yard line. On first and goal, junior quarterback Jared Martino ran it into the endzone to give Malden the lead with 4:55 left in the game. However, the extra point was missed again giving Malden a 19-13 lead.

Somerville needed to answer or risk time running out. However on second down and two, Somerville’s screen pass was jumped and intercepted by junior Marlon Cook who returned it untouched for a pick-6. To give Malden a 14 point advantage, head coach William Manchester decided to try a two point attempt. Junior quarterback, Jared Martino tried a fade to junior, Isaiah Likely but the pass was incomplete, giving Malden a 25-13 lead with 3:02 left in the game.

With so little time left, and a two possession game, there was a very slight chance that Somerville could mount a comeback. Malden played a very conservative defense, allowing Somerville to move the chains but chew lots of clock along the way. Eventually, Somerville was able to score a touchdown with 1 second left in the game. However, time ran out as the onside kick attempt by Somerville was recovered by Malden, giving them their first win of the season.

After the game, junior Walter Analetto reflected on the importance of their first victory of the season. He mention that “[they] finally got the taste of victory” which he feels will drive “[them to do better].” When asked about what the difference was between winning a close game down the stretch, as opposed to losing their first three games in similar situations, Analetto stated that “[he] thought that this week, [they] had the best week of practice of the season.” He continued to say that “[this] allowed [them] to not give up, and finally catch a break that [they] have been looking for all season.”

However Analetto also mentioned that “[they] made a lot of mental errors [that] game, which put [them] in some tough positions.” He concluded that “[they] have to fix the mental errors, and not get so many penalties if [they] want to beat Lowell next game.”    

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