By Geoff Converse/Cape Cod Times
Special to The Westfield News
FALMOUTH — If there were some concerns whether or not Kyle Connolly could handle the complicated Falmouth offense as a first-time signal-caller and as a starter as a sophomore, the 15-year-old did a lot to put Clipper fans at ease Saturday at Guv Fuller Field.
Behind Connolly, fullback Gates Kelliher, slot back Trevor Nunes and many others, the Clippers amassed 494 yards in offense, 485 of them on the ground as they defused the Bombers of Westfield, 59-30 on a sun-drenched, humid afternoon.
It was not a perfect performance by the host club, but it was impressive enough to lift it to a 2-0 mark heading into its next game, a critical Atlantic Coast League showdown with powerful Marshfield.
The offense ran smoothly, but the defense, which, at times was stifling, forcing Westfield quarterback Michael Nihill to throw passes before he or his receivers were ready, was susceptible to the big play surrendering two long runs from scrimmage by Dakotah Moynihan (34 and 57 yards) and an 89-yard kickoff return.
“We can’t be letting teams do that,” said Falmouth coach Derek Almeida, who saw a lot more good than bad from his team’s performance. “The hardest thing in high school football is to prepare for everything in a game. That led to some of their big plays, but we’ll make the adjustments this week and hopefully be better prepared in the future.”
Offensively, Falmouth ran like a well oiled machine.
The Clippers took the opening kickoff, marched 78 yards in eight plays capping off the drive with the first of two Connolly rushing TDs (9 yards).
However, the Bombers answered with an 89-yard kickoff return from Baley Collier, who also snagged the two-point conversion pass to tie the game at 8-8.
Falmouth came right back with a 14-play drive that took the rest of the first quarter giving the hosts a 16-8 lead and Westfield with not one play from scrimmage.
The Bombers had just one series before having to give the ball up to Falmouth. Westfield was looking to punt the ball away, but a bad snap from center eluded punter Gabriel Santiago and Falmouth’s Kyle Cardoza scooped it up on the 16-yard line and ran untouched into the end zone to put the Clippers ahead, 24-8.
“Turnovers killed us today,” said Westfield coach Rob Parent. “It was our first game of the season and we made some mistakes that cost us. We’re a younger team than last year (The Bombers won the Western Division Playoffs before bowing to Shrewsbury in the state semifinals finishing the season at 10-2), but a game like this should make us better. We have some areas we know that have to improve, but we also showed that we don’t quit.”
Westfield came back to make it 24-16 on Moynihan’s 34-yard jaunt, but that was close as the Bombers would get.
Falmouth took advantage of another muffed punt attempt by Westfield, recovering the bad snap at the Westfield 15-yard line. Two plays later, Connolly hit Aidan Washington with a nine-yard aerial giving the Clippers a 32-16 halftime advantage.
Falmouth scored 230 points in the third quarter to put the game out of reach.
Connolly finished the contest with 166 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 19 carries. He had the TD pass and figured in three two-point conversions.
Kelliher, the plow horse in the backfield for Falmouth, was a beast. He had 20 carries for 154 hard-earned yards and two TDs.
“It certainly helps Kyle to have someone like Gates back there with him,” said Almeida. “Giving Gates the ball is like always getting that extra yard. He is so hard to bring down he often ends up turning what would have left us with a third-and-5 into something like a third-and-one. That makes life a lot easier.”
Completing the scoring for Falmouth was senior running back Matthew Proctor, who punched in a one-yard rush early in the final quarter.
“This was a big one for us,” Almeida said. “These kids are tough and they care about each other and they are working hard. But, they can’t rest on their laurels because we have a lot of work ahead of us.”
Westfield returns to the gridiron next Friday night at Hoosac Valley. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.