It was a day that was quickly labeled by coach Steve Dembowski as one he’d like to forget quickly.
“We didn’t do anything [positive]. We didn’t do anything of the things we worked on all week well,” said the disappointed coach.
Swampscott senior quarterback Brendan McDonald threw three interceptions in his debut, and Triton running back Justin Spillane and quarterback Bradley Whitman accounted for five Triton touchdowns as the Vikings took care of business in the season opener, winning 33-7.
The Big Blue stayed in the game until the conclusion of the first half, when Triton put on an impressive two-minute drill with 2:34 remaining in the second quarter. A 50-yard pass by Whitman from the Triton 24 yard line sparked the drive that resulted in Triton’s third touchdown of the game, resulting in a 21-7 Triton lead with just over thirty seconds remaining in the half. Swampscott was unable to respond before the halftime whistle.
In the third quarter, the Triton defense forced Swampscott to go three-and-out in its first two drives of the second half. On the first play of Triton’s second drive in the third quarter, Justin Spillane found a perfect hole in the defensive line, and ran off, resulting in a 50 yard touchdown run that gave the Vikings a 27-7 lead with 3:37 remaining in the third quarter.
“The killer was not getting them off the field with a chance to score before the half and tie the game,” said Dembowski. “And them coming out, and stopping us, and that 50 yard run.”
From there, it was smooth sailing for the Vikings. One more touchdown run by Spillane with 6:39 remaining in regulation shaped the final score, 33-7.
“Overall, we got outcoached, we got outplayed, and we got outhustled. We thoroughly got our butts kicked,” said Dembowski. “I think that we got a quarterback over there that’s going to make them really competitive, they have an experienced back who blew right by them in several spots today, and made us look silly, and the receivers caught the ball.”
The only positive thing that could be taken out of this game was McDonald’s leadership during Swampscott’s only touchdown drive in the second quarter. In consecutive series, both third-and-long situations, McDonald was able to run for the first down that kept the drive going. The next series, McDonald was able to convert on fourth down on a quarterback scramble. And the next play, McDonald was able to find Mike Faia on an impressive 16-yard pass that put the Big Blue up on the scoreboard for the first time this season.
However, Swampscott never scored again. Dropped passes, missed targets, and great defensive pressure led to multiple three-and-outs for the Big Blue offense. Swampscott’s closest chance for a second touchdown came in the fourth quarter, when the Big Blue marched from the Swampscott 31-yard-line to the Triton 7-yard-line, thanks to four sharp passes by McDonald. After throwing an incomplete pass on 1st and goal at the 7-yard-line, McDonald threw his third interception of the day on second down with 4:27 remaining in the fourth quarter, sealing the victory for the Vikings.
Dembowski believes McDonald can bounce back.
“It’s a tough spot to be in when your first start as a quarterback is a game where you’re down by 2 or 3 scores in the second half. He tried to do too much, so he’ll have some things to look at now for himself,” said Dembowski.
“Brendan’s a competitor, he’ll be fine, he’ll be back, he’ll improve.”
It was a weak effort for Swampscott on their home opener. But from here, there’s only one place to go: up.
“We don’t have any choice [but to move forward]. Right now, if we don’t win this week, we’re really in trouble,” said Dembowski.
The Big Blue face St. Mary’s of Lynn next week on a special Thursday night battle at Manning Field at 7:30 P.M.
“The good thing for us is that St. Mary’s is going to come right up our face, and we’ll know pretty early in the game if we’re going to respond to that because that’s the way they play,” said Dembowski.
“We’re not that smart yet, and some of our inexperienced areas really hurt us today. We just weren’t ready yet.”
Let’s hope Swampscott will be ready by next Thursday.