The Watertown High School football put an exclamation point on an already successful year by defeating rival Belmont 35-16 in the annual Thanksgiving game at Victory Field on Thursday morning.
The game came less than a week after the Raiders’ loss in the Div. 5 Eastern Mass final, but Watertown looked sharp against the Marauders. Watertown football coach John Cacace said his seniors wanted to defeat their rivals.
“After the careers they had and after the season they had, you don’t want to go out with a bad taste in your mouth,” Cacace said. “They really wanted this one and they played like they wanted it.”
The Raiders got on the board on their first possession of the game when junior quarterback Nick McDermott threw a 42-yard touchdown on a play-action pass to senior receiver John Korte.
The Marauders, meanwhile, had trouble even getting first downs in the first half. Belmont went for it on 4th and 1 from their own 30 and got about 3/4 of a yard. Watertown could not convert on the possession, as senior Conor Kennelly missed on a 39-yard field goal.
The Raiders were not finished in the first half, though. A drive aided by a face mask call on the Marauders moved the ball to the Belmont 46. Then McDermott found Korte again, who escaped the grasp of a defender to race for a touchdown. The half ended 14-0 when Kennelly had his third missed field goal on a windy day, this time from 37-yards out.
The second half appeared to be going the same direction as the first when Watertown stopped Belmont and got the ball back on their own 48. However, a fumble gave the ball right back to the Marauders who marched down the field and Belmont senior running back Tyler Reynolds found the corner on a 6 yard run to cut Watertown’s lead to 14-7 with 4:57 left in the third quarter.
Watertown responded with a drive of its own. On first and goal from the 2, senior running back Matt Mulgrew punched it in up the middle to make it 21-7 Raiders.
Muldrew struck again on Watertown’s next possession. This time he broke through the line from the 18-yard line on third down. Kennelly made his fourth extra point of the game to put the Raiders up 28-7 with 8:27 remaining in the fourth.
“We wanted to come out and play big and go right at them,” Cacace said. “We had more success in the second half when we spread things out. Matty Muldrew had an unbelievable second half. He really carried us – him and our offensive line.”
A 30-yard run followed by a 40-yard pass got Belmont to the Watertown 7. From there, Belmont quarterback George Fitzgerald found junior receiver Dijuan Moore for a touchdown. A two-point try failed making the score at 28-13 with 2:31 left in the game.
The Raiders had one more drive left in them. Once again it was capped off by a McDermott to Korte connection. This time from 30 yards out to make it 35-13.
Korte said the game turned out just the way he wanted.
“It feels great. This is the exact thing that I pictured would happen for this game and it came true for me,” Korte said.
Cacace said that McDermott is very accurate when he has time. The Watertown offensive line gave him that chance.
“This offensive line is the strongest, most experienced, toughest offensive line we’ve had,” Cacace said. “Top to bottom they love the weight room they are in there all the time.”
The Marauders made another drive deep into Watertown territory, and settled for a 35-yard field goal from Aidan Cadigan with 49 ticks left. The Raiders then ran out the clock on the 97th Watertown-Belmont game, winning by 35-16.
After the game, Watertown players took some time to savor the win and pose for pictures with teammates on the Victory Field turf.
“I’m glad these guys are out here enjoying this right now because it has been a great season,” Cacace said.
The Raiders finish at 7-5, and took home a North Section title for the first time ever. The Marauders. finish at 2-9.