Wakefield football falls to Wilmington by strange score of 9-2

Mar 29, 2021 by

Published in the March 29, 2021 edition.

By DAN PAWLOWSKI

WAKEFIELD — It’s perhaps only fitting that the final score of Saturday morning’s spring football game between Wakefield and Wilmington was astoundingly odd.

Thanks to 13 three-and-outs, four turnovers, one safety, a blocked PAT and one touchdown, a half full, and at times eerily quiet, Landrigan Field witnessed its first 9-2 as a final score as Wilmington improved to 2-0 while Wakefield fell to 0-2. 

Wakefield’s offense accounted for six of those three-and-outs and three of those turnovers as they were only able to move the chains three times against an athletic and opportunistic Wildcat defense.

The Warrior defense, after surrendering the game’s only touchdown on the very first series of the day, surrendered just 101 total yards in Wilmington’s 11 subsequent drives while earning Wakefield’s only points of the day on a safety. 

Wakefield’s sophomore QB Javin Willis seemed destined to tie it when he picked up 80 of his 124 rushing yards early in the 2nd quarter on one long run that started on his own 19 and ended when a Wildcat defensive back punched the ball out at the Wilmington 1. The Warrior defense turned that gut punch into two points when junior Luke Ickes forced Wilmington QB Pedro Germano into an intentional grounding penalty on 3rd-and-6 from the 5 yard line. 

With the scoreboard looking more like a convincing hockey win than a football halftime score (6-2), both defenses continued to control the narrative in the second half with three three-and-outs taking up most of the 3rd quarter before the Wildcats marched to the Warrior 16 and senior Stephen Smolinksy, who scored Wilmington’s first quarter TD from two yards out, hit a 33-yard field goal to make it 9-2 going into the 4th. 

Willis continued to make plays with his legs, scrambling 15 yards on the next possession’s 3rd-and-14 from the Wakefield 15 for a first down. The next 3rd-and-long wasn’t as successful as Willis was picked off at midfield. 

Wakefield’s defense had already stepped up to help the offense through their struggles. After senior MyKease Driggers forced a punt on a deflection that knocked down a pass on 3rd down, the Warriors’ first fumble of the day came on the next play when sophomore Nathan Delgado lost it on 1st down at the Wilmington 45. 

Wakefield junior Chris Amyouny stuck a runner in the backfield on Wilmington’s next 1st down and Driggers covered well again when he was challenged on 3rd down to force another three-and-out. 

After the Willis interception, the Warrior front seven of Amyouny, Ian Dixon, Luke Ickes, Nathan Ickes, Danny Hurley, Tucker Stikeman and Nick Roberto continued their strong play by shutting down the run on first down. Stikeman set the edge to sniff out a reverse for a loss of five yards on 2nd down and Hurley got a hand on a 3rd down screen pass to force yet another punt. 

Wakefield’s fourth turnover was committed by the special teams when sophomore punt returner Lucas Kehoe made contact with the ball under pressure and Wilmington recovered. 

Right back out trotted a defense that showed no signs of fatigue. Amyouny and Bryan Lynch both met a Wilmington runner at the line on 2nd down and Hurley made another great read on 3rd down to stop a receiver for no gain. 

The punt this time went into the end zone for a touchback.

Facing a 4th-and-4 from their own 26 and just under three minutes to play, Wakefield head coach John Rafferty decided to put his better group on the field as Hurley hit another strong punt 40 yards down to the Wilmington 34. 

On 2nd-and-8, Dixon created the most noise of the day on a thunderous hit in the backfield for a loss of five. Rafferty called timeout and Wilmington later punted it back to the Wakefield 31. 

With 1:39 left, the Warriors had a chance to put all the mistakes behind them. Willis started it off with a 21-yard scramble into Wilmington territory but a false start on the next snap created long yardage and three incomplete passes later led to a turnover-on-downs as Wilmington finally finished off one of the strangest games in Middlesex League history. 

Wakefield will look to get in the win column on Saturday when they host Burlington (1-1) at 11 a.m.

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