NORTH EASTHAM – After forfeiting last year’s game against Falmouth due to low numbers, the Nauset football team showed just how far it has come in one year when the teams finally met last Friday night at Nauset.
It wasn’t the result the Warriors had hoped for — the visiting Clippers escaped town with 14-13 victory — but the result demonstrated that the Warriors have already made strides under first-year coach Jesse Peno.
“They fought hard,” Peno said after the game. “For a game that the program had to forfeit last year because we didn’t have enough guys to play them, to coming back and have a shot the next year, I’m really, really proud of these guys. We’re not happy that we lost, but to be back and competing against one of the best teams in the league, that’s the direction that I wanted the program to be going.”
Falmouth (2-1) jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first half after its senior quarterback Aidan North ran for a five-yard touchdown and senior Cooper Young added a one-yard rushing score.
After struggling to move the chains early in the game, Nauset found its stride on the final possession of the first half. The offense traveled 75 yards during a 10-play, two-minute drill that ended when freshman quarterback Brendan Peno threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to senior Dillon White with just 6.1 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
“I just put all my faith in Dillon because I knew he would come down with that ball,” said Brendan Peno, an Orleans resident.
White said the scoring drive gave the Warriors (2-2) some life before the intermission.
“It was good, it gave us momentum,” he said.
Nauset took a 14-7 deficit into halftime after Keiran Handville booted an extra point. The team stuck to the aerial attack during the third quarter, as Brendan Peno connected with sophomore Isaiah Robinson for a 51-yard touchdown pass. Handville missed the ensuing kick, however, to help Falmouth preserve a 14-13 edge.
Although the offense did make mistakes, including a pair of interceptions in the first half, coach Peno said Friday’s game once again showed that the Warriors can move the ball when they execute.
“I think we have enough guys that we can spread out and give some teams some trouble,” coach Peno said. “It’s just a matter of being more consistent. We kind of killed ourselves with mistakes during drives, so we’re just looking for some more consistency.”
The consistency should be expected as the season progresses. Brendan Peno said he’s already gaining confidence with each game, noting that he felt a little nervous at the start of the Falmouth loss before eventually settling in.
“I thought in the beginning we looked pretty sloppy throwing the ball,” the quarterback said. “I was nervous in the beginning but right before the half I got locked in and the receivers made some great plays on the ball.”
The signal-caller said he and his teammates feel they are on the right trajectory after competing against Falmouth, which some Nauset players view as the best team in the Cape and Islands League.
Even though it’s still early in the season, competing against Falmouth after needing to forfeit the matchup last year is proof that Nauset is on the right path. White said there’s a tangible excitement around the program with Jesse Peno at the helm.
“Peno has brought a new energy and everyone is riding on it,” said White, a Brewster resident. “Everyone wants to win and that’s the bottom line.”
Nauset will travel to Martha’s Vineyard on Friday in search of its first league win since defeating Falmouth, 20-14, during the “Fall II” football season that was held in the spring of 2021.
“It’s a huge game,” Jesse Peno declared. “We have to turn it around quick and get our first win in the league in a long time.”
Email Brad Joyal at email@example.com. Twitter: @BradJoyal