By GreG Phipps
---- — BYFIELD — Two missed scoring opportunities late in last week’s frustrating loss to rival Newburyport left the Triton Vikings with a sense of urgency to get back on the winning track Friday night.
That mission was accomplished as the Vikings knocked off North Reading, 32-14, in Cape Ann League Division 1 action at Triton Regional High School.
Triton drove for touchdowns on five of its seven possessions for the game. Quarterback Brad Whitman threw for 183 yards and two scores. He also ran for two TDs, including a 67-yard romp that opened the scoring early in the first quarter.
The victory helped ease the pain of last week’s hard-to-swallow 19-13 defeat when Triton (4-2 overall, 2-2 CAL) was stopped on fourth down inside the 10 with just over two minutes to go, and then, after recovering a Newburyport fumble inside the Clippers’ 40, Whitman was picked off in the final minute.
“That loss really sat with us the whole week, so it was great to get this kind of a response from the kids,” said Vikings head coach Pat Sheehan. “The offensive line blocked great tonight, the pass protection was sensational. It was just a good team win all-around.”
Sheehan went on to praise running back Justin Spillane (64 yards rushing and two touchdowns) and Whitman for being on target with his passes and involving all of his receivers. Five different Viking receivers caught more than one pass on last night.
Meanwhile, the visiting Hornets, now 2-4 overall and winless in league play at 0-4, were coming off last week’s three-point loss to Saugus, which left them all alone in the CAL Div. 1 cellar.
The Vikings defense, though it gave up a few big plays, managed to neutralize the Hornet offense, with its complex multiple-back sets.
“Defensively, that’s a very difficult offense to go up against and prepare for,” Sheehan said. “I thought we tackled well and our scout team did a great job simulating their offense and getting us ready for it.”Following Whitman’s long TD run, Triton added another score in the first period when Whitman hit Justin Cashman on a rollout from 14 yards out. That score and Daniel Cuddy’s second consecutive point-after kick had the home team in front 14-0.
North Reading running back Ryan Sanborn then provided the Hornets with one of their few highlights when he broke through the middle and dashed 68 yards for a TD, which made it 14-7 following Angelo DiSanto’s PAT kick late in the opening period.
The Vikings came right back with a 69-yard second-quarter march that culminated in Spillane’s 9-yard run for six more and a 20-7 Triton advantage.
The lead would increase to 26-7 before halftime. Spillane was able to corral a pass that deflected off two Hornet defenders and trot into the end zone with 1:22 showing on the first half clock.
North Reading running back and captain Charles McCarthy played an inspired second half, rambling for 117 yards on 12 carries. His 48-yard burst on the Hornets’ opening drive of the second half set up North Reading’s second and final score — a 4-yard McCarthy run on fourth down.
The visitors had no answer for Triton’s offense, however, as the Vikings engineered a 68 yard drive and eventually closed out the scoring on Whitman’s five-yard keeper.
The Vikings travel to play Masconomet next Friday at 7 p.m.