BYFIELD — Whether it’s in the classroom, the workplace or on the football field, nobody likes being forced to do something they don’t want to do.
That’s the unfortunate position the Triton Regional football team found themselves in Saturday morning against Danvers — particularly in the second half. The Falcons controlled both the football and the clock, forcing Triton to get away from running out of the spread option and put the ball in the air.
As a result, the visitors scored three second-half touchdowns and finished with four interceptions and a crucial fumble recovery defensively to knock off the Vikings, 26-13.
Tied at halftime (7-7), Danvers marched downfield on the opening drive of the second half and scored to take a 14-7 lead. Triton then lost the football on the ensuing kickoff with the Falcons recovering. Danvers scored again on a 2-yard run by captain Alex Grant (128 yards rushing) and placed the Vikings in a 20-7 hole.
“We kept their offense off the field at first,” said Triton head coach Pat Sheehan, “but they really controlled the ball in the second half. Even when we had them stopped, it seemed like they were still getting yards.
“That fumble really hurt; it took us out of what we wanted to do, which was keep the ball out of their hands. It forced our hand (to throw more).”
When the Vikings (1-5) ran the ball, they did so effectively. Junior Justin Spillane gained 128 yards on 19 carries (mainly sweeps and tosses) while quarterback Brad Whitman complemented him with 45 yards on a dozen tries. But because Danvers held onto the football for so long over the final 22 minutes, that limited Spillane in carrying the ball only twice over the final two quarters.
Whitman threw 20 passes against a heavy pass rush and completed half of them, good for 156 yards. But the Falcons were also sitting back in coverage once they got the lead and were able to create turnovers.
“We played a lot more physical in the second half,” Danvers (3-3) head coach Sean Rogers said, “and we got a great job from our defense. We hit hard and got behind our pads.”
Triton took an early 7-0 lead as Spillane went in from five yards out on the game’s opening series, but Danvers tied it up the first time they got the football, then held its ground on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line, stopping the Vikings cold.
By the time Triton scored again in the game’s final minute, coming on a 13-yard pass from Whitman to Travis Kneeland, Danvers had added a fourth quarter score by sophomore quarterback Nick Andreas.
“Brad made some good decisions, and our (offensive) line played well,” said Sheehan. “But they were bigger and got the momentum changed (in the second half). We just have to execute better.”
Triton now begins Cape Ann League/Northeastern Conference Tier III play this weekend, hosting Amesbury in the first of five league contests to close out the regular season.
“Our first six games are history now. It’s not where we wanted to be at this point, but it’s history,” said Sheehan. “We have to be prepared for Amesbury and learn from our mistakes.”