MARBLEHEAD — Last fall, Marblehead’s current placekicker, Phelan Tinti-Kane, spent his season on the soccer field. The senior came out for football this fall, and amused his new football teammates with how he put on his football pads.
Those teammates were thrilled Friday night watching as Tinti-Kane’s 30-yard field goal sailed through the uprights with 2:54 left in the game, pushing Marblehead to a 10-7 win over Danvers and earning it the Northeastern Conference/North crown.
The Magicians and the Falcons did all of their scoring in the fourth quarter. First, it was the Magicians, as quarterback Andy Clough rushed in from the two, and Tinti-Kane’s kick put the home team up, 7-0, with 10:49 left to play.
The Falcons, who were denied twice by Marblehead’s defense in the first half in close, didn’t take long to respond. The ensuing kickoff after the Magicians touchdown sailed out of bounds. Marblehead had to line up and kick it all over again, and Danvers’ Tahg Coakley made the Magicians pay.
Coakley scooped up the second kickoff and blasted 48 yards down the sideline in front of the Marblehead bench, and the Falcons got another 15 yards after a personal foul, a horse-collar tackle, to give Danvers the ball on the Magicians 10-yard line.
Junior Matt McCarthy, who did the bulk of the running for Danvers Friday night, carried twice, getting the ball down to the Magician one, where quarterback Justin Mullaney snuck it in on third down. Zach Dillon’s boot was good and it was a 7-7 game with 9:10 remaining in regulation.
Marblehead coach Jim Rudloff said his team sagged a little after it scored its touchdown, and the Falcons took advantage of the mistakes immediately.
“They really hurt us on a bunch of kickoffs, especially after we messed up that first one that went out of bounds,” Rudloff said. “Give them credit, we both went a long time without scoring, we score and they come right back and put one in the end zone. I knew they (Danvers) were up for this game when I got here at four and they were already here, to beat the Salem Halloween traffic.”
Marblehead marched down the field after Danvers tied things up, but stalled at the Falcon 11, when Danvers chased Clough out of the pocket, forcing an incomplete pass on 4th and 11.
On the next play, Danvers fumbled the ball on its own 11, and Marblehead’s Tyrese Hardy pounced on it, giving the Magicians another shot at the end zone with 3:54 left in the fourth quarter. Sixty seconds later, on 4th and 10, Tinti-Kane hit the biggest kick of his football career to make the home team 7-0 and the NEC North champs.
“I’m hard on the guys, certainly, but I have to say, I’m very proud of these guys, the seniors, who have won the NEC North every year they’ve been here. I am incredibly proud of them, that’s something you can never take away from them,” Rudloff said.
Danvers coach Ryan Nolan said that he’s incredibly proud of his team as well.
“They are a great football team, a great program, our kids came out and battled, as much as this loss hurts, I’m so proud of these guys,” Nolan said. “We played hard the whole game, and we’ll be ready for the playoffs for sure, we have something to prove.”