EASTHAM ─ It was a game that could have belonged to either team, but even after the Wareham Vikings took a solid lead, the determined Nauset Warriors capped off their efforts with a late game touchdown that eased the sting of the 28-21 loss on Friday night in Eastham.
With seconds left on the clock in the final frame, Harwich's Bobby Joy tucked the ball into the crook of his arm and took off running for the end zone, making a 20-yard dash to put a dent in Wareham's 28-14 edge. While an on-side kick attempt was unsuccessful and the game ended in a 28-21 Viking victory, the Warriors put forth a strong fight.
“It was a tough game,” said Nauset head coach Bruce Strunk, who took the helm of the program this season. “Both teams played their hearts out in a game that could have gone either way. We didn't capitalize on some of their mistakes and they capitalized on ours.”
Strunk gave kudos to the Viking squad, dubbing them a “talented team.”
Nauset found its way onto the scoreboard first when Joy found an open Tate Seidewand for a 13-yard touchdown after a march down the field. The Vikings responded quickly with a score on their first possession to take a slight lead after a successful two-point conversion.
A second quarter TD by Wareham put the Vikings ahead even further, but another Joy to Seidewand connection set up a 31-yard score to tie the game at 14-all heading into the break. Unfortunately for the Warriors, the Vikings leaped to a 20-14 lead on a six-yard hop. A fourth-quarter TD extended Wareham's lead, with Joy offering a last dose of excitement before the final buzzer.
“We were able to move the ball on the ground,” said Strunk. “But we got worn down and didn't make the plays when we had to and they did. That's the game in a nutshell. You can't play from behind against a team that can hold the ball for a long time in their offense.”
Though disappointed by the loss, Strunk was impressed by his team's determination.
“This is one of those games that was a measuring stick for our team,” he said. “We played hard and I'm proud of our team.”
Strunk praised Joy for his tireless play throughout the game.
“I think Bobby Joy did an excellent job of running the offense,” said Strunk. “He's a tough kid. He's one of the smallest kids on the field but he's one of the toughest.”
Strunk also gave shoutouts to Mac LaBarge and Ethan Still, noting that Still was put in positions he hadn't practiced before and “played football the whole time.”
In spite of the loss Strunk expressed pride in his team.
“The guys are getting better each and every week,” he said. “They don't see it because we lost a game, but us coaches see it.”
The new head coach wants his players to see it, too.
“The program is getting better,” he said. “From where we started on Day 1 with 21 kids on the team, we're heading in the right direction.”
He's looking forward to the team's next game against Sandwich, Nauset's Homecoming, slated for Oct. 13 at 7 p.m.
“We're looking to bounce back for our Homecoming,” he said. “These kids have made great strides this year and they're going to come to play.”
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