Watertown ended Belmont's seven-year winning streak in emphatic fashion as the Red Raiders defeated the Marauders, 28-7, at the annual Thanksgiving game held at Belmont's Harris Field, Thursday, Nov. 22.
Watertown's junior T.J. Hairston 21-yard circus catch with a Belmont defender draped on him to score Watertown's final touchdown with 5:01 remaining in the fourth quarter sealed the win for Red Raider's Head Coach John Cacace team.
The victory allows Watertown (6-5) to end the season with a winning record for the second year running while Belmont (2-9) struggled through a season where they were away from home for eight games.
After 91 games in the series, the record is all square: 43-43-5.
Watertown's Cacace said he expected the Marauders to throw some tricks at his squad, but the Raiders were ready.
“(Belmont) has been prepping for this game for a long time, They came out on the first series and did some things to us and we had to adjust. We did,” Cacace said.
“We were prepared for (the fake punt). When you are the underdog you need to take some chances like that, and they had to make plays.”
"I thought they were the better team today," said Marauder's Head Coach Kevin Gildea.
"(Watertown senior QB Joey) Farrar and Logan (Riley, the Red Raider's senior running back) were outstanding today. They played very hard and it was difficult for us to contain them," Gildea said.
Farrar scored a back-breaking score, rambling 14 yards on a quarterback sneak on fourth down and goal for a touchdown with 22 seconds remaining in the half after Belmont failed on the fourth-down fake punt to turnover the ball on downs to the Red Raiders on the Marauder's 29 yard line with three minutes in the half.
“It was trips (three receivers) right, and we wanted them to think we were going to pass it and we ran a QB draw,” Farrar said.
“I cut left, behind Eric Tirrell and Tirrell hit the linebacker. It was a great play.”
The Raiders went into the locker room with a 14-7 lead.
Watertown scored their initial TD on their previous drive when Riley dove into the end zone from less than a yard at 5:35 left in the half.
The Marauders started strong, moving the ball crisply down the field after holding the Watertown offense to a three-and-out the first time they had the ball.
Behind two outstanding runs of 18 and 15 yards by sophomore running back Max Jones, Belmont wide receiver Brian Coutts took the snap and faked at screen pass to the right before hitting Jones on a 15 yard TD pass to put Belmont up 7-0 at 3:51 left in the first quarter.
Yet Belmont could not find that same ability to drive down the field on the ground for the rest of the game as Watertown was able to sack Belmont QB Mike Richardson three times.
Farrar had success through the entire game rolling out and passing to either Hairston and junior Matt Donnell (who scored the Red Raider's third TD at 1:52 in the third quarter) while Riley ran both up the middle and around the ends including a romp of 43 yards in the fourth quarter to set up the Farrar to Hairston catch.
“(Hairston) always seems to find open space, I can always throw it up to him, and he always goes up and gets it,” Farrar said.
Belmont tried to neutralize Hairston, but Cacace said his receiver kept playing hard.
“They tried to take T.J. away. They always try to take away what we do best,” Cacace said.
“T.J. played his tail off. He never gave up. He kept fighting. They were being physical with him. A terrific effort from him.”
"I'm disappointed for the season because this is not why you prepare in the off season so hard," said Gildea. "But I have to praise the captains and seniors for sticking with the team during the season.
The win means more than just ending the losing streak to the Marauders, Cacace said.
“Yeah, we got a lot of goals accomplished today,” Cacace said. “A winning season, end the 7 year streak, win three Middlesex games. That’s the most that we’ve won (in my time). I told the team this was a great win today, but the goal is to keep building and just keep getting better.”