NORTH EASTHAM – The Nauset football team showed sparks of brilliance during its season opener against visiting Norwell on Friday night, but those moments didn’t translate to the scoreboard the way the Warriors needed them to.
After losing 16 seniors from last year’s squad, Nauset struggled to keep pace with the high-powered Clippers before ultimately suffering a 40-15 loss on its home field.
“The score didn’t go the way we wanted it to, but I’m proud of these guys,” Nauset coach Jesse Peno said. “We have about 28 kids dressed, and I think at the start of the game we had nine guys going both ways. It’s a tough way to live, and when you get tired you make mistakes and you get worn down.
“Credit to those guys for battling. That’s the first thing I said to them, ‘Keep your heads up because it’s hard to be in the spot you’re in.’”
Despite falling behind midway through the first quarter after Norwell quarterback Colin McCarty ran for a 20-yard touchdown and Connor Foster booted an extra point to give the Clippers a 7-0 advantage, the Warriors hung tough and didn’t allow another score for the remainder of the opening frame.
McCarty tossed a 27-yard touchdown pass to Jake Touhey and Foster made his second extra point to give Norwell a 14-0 lead with 4:02 remaining in the first half, though the Warriors quickly answered just 1:23 later.
Nauset sophomore quarterback Brendan Peno connected with junior Isaiah Robinson for a 32-yard touchdown pass and senior Keiran Handville made the ensuing extra point to cut it to 14-7 with 2:09 left in the second quarter.
The Warriors’ momentum was short lived, however, as Norwell answered with a 29-yard touchdown pass from McCarty to Jackson Adams and another extra point to take a 21-7 lead into halftime.
Coach Peno said it was tough for his players — many of which were playing offense, defense and special teams — to stick with Norwell.
“It’s hard,” he said. “When [momentum] comes and goes like that, it’s hard when you’re gassed to pick yourself up off the floor. They tried, you could tell by the look on their faces that nobody quit. They were fighting, fighting, fighting, but in the end they just wore out.”
Nauset’s only score during the second half came in the fourth quarter when Peno threw a 34-yard TD strike to Handville and then found Robinson through the air for a 2-point conversion that cut Norwell’s lead to 34-15 with 11:56 remaining.
The 2-point conversion capped off a strong performance by Robinson, who also showed off his hands by intercepting McCarty on a jump ball.
“He’s incredible,” Peno said of Robinson. “He’s probably one of the hardest working kids that we have. He’s in the top of his class and just works his tail off. He just comes to work every single day. He’s a man of few words, but he leads us out there and always makes a play when we need him to.”
Although the outcome wasn’t what the Warriors had hoped for, Peno said there were aspects of the game that the team can build on before traveling to East Bridgewater for another non-league contest at 7 p.m. Friday.
“You look at the scoreboard and it might not say it, but we’re not far off on some things,” the coach said. “We have some first-time offensive linemen that are learning and are jelling. We have skilled guys that can play with anybody. It’s just a matter of having the protection, running the right routes and getting that stuff on the same page. We just have to be more consistent with all of that.”