STAMFORD — A blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown in the first quarter, followed by a kickoff return for a score to start the second half — yes, special teams was pretty special for the Brien McMahon football team in its game against Stamford Friday night at Boyle Stadium.
And that sparkling special teams display resulted in the Senators’ first win of the season.
Jumping out to a 20-point lead, McMahon posted an impressive 27-12 win over Stamford in an FCIAC matchup. The victory moved the Senators’ record to 1-4.
The game ended abruptly with 1:30 remaining in the fourth quarter due to a fight that broke out following a running play near the McMahon sideline. Numerous players from both teams were involved and a lot of pushing and shoving ensued. After speaking to both coaches, the officials decided to stop the game and McMahon had its victory.
“The officials said it was a two-score game with 1:30 left and the situation escalated and they said the safe thing to do was to end the game,” McMahon coach Jeff Queiroga said. “Both coaches agreed it would be the right thing to do.”
Said Stamford coach Jamar Green: “They (the officials) couldn’t tell us who caused it, but we’ll look at the film and see what happened. We’re disappointed, because we teach our players to walk away when something like that happens. We’ll use it as a learning lesson.”
Jonathan Davilla returned a blocked punt for a touchdown, Donyae Shavers returned a kickoff for a score and Michael Macari reached the end zone on a big running play to ignite the Senators. Stamford (1-4), received touchdowns receptions from Daniel Simms and Jay Lockwood.
Following a Stamford three-and-out, Brien McMahon scored the game’s first points.
Davilla scooped up a blocked punt and returned it 12 yards for a touchdown. Jeffrey Cocchia converted the point-after attempt, giving the Senators a 7-0 lead with 10:20 left in the opening quarter. Senior Malik Goethe blocked the punt that set up the score.
“Malik did a great job of blocking that punt, he always gives 120 percent, he never stops,” said Davilla, a senior. “I just picked it up and ran to the end zone.”
Added Queiroga: “Special teams was something we felt we should capitalize on. We were aggressive, we blocked a punt for a touchdown and that set the tone of the game.”
The Black Knights’ next possession ended with Davilla sacking Johnson for an 11-yard loss.
“We were all hyped on defense and we played with a lot of energy,” Davilla said. “All of us were flying to the ball and helping each other out.”
Using its running game, the Senators widened their lead on the ensuing possession, driving 66 yards in eight plays. Jermayn Daniel, a 5-11, 240-pound junior, capped the Senators’ scoring march, bullying his way up the middle for a 9-yard touchdown with 40 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Senior Tsai Zoe had a 13-yard run and senior Michael Macari gained 12 yards during the drive for McMahon, which entered the second quarter with a 14-0 advantage. In the second quarter, Stamford drove to the McMahon 39-yard line, behind a 36-yard run by senior Lenny Garcia. The Senators’ defense stiffened, however, and the home team was held off the scoreboard.
“Our defense was outstanding,” Queiroga said. “After our previous games, we wanted to prevent the big play and we were able to avoid that with some grit and hustle.”
Late in the second quarter, Senators free safety Erik Hernandez intercepted a pass from Johnson near midfield. Zoe and Daniel combined for 62 first-half rushing yards for the visitors. Stamford was limited to 55 yards of offense in the opening half.
“Defensively, we played well, but we have some work to do on the offensive side of the ball,” Green said. “We have a lot of young players on offense. Special teams was the difference — other than that, I thought we played them pretty even.”
The second half began with the Senators displaying their nifty special-teams play. Shavers, a senior, returned the kickoff to start the half 85 yards for a touchdown, sprinting down the left sideline. His impressive return put the Senators on top, 26-6.
“That was my first time returning a kickoff, so I wanted to make something happen,” Shavers said. “I got a good block, made a move, then all I saw was green in front of me.”
The Black Knights got on the scoreboard on their first possession of the second half. On third-and-goal from the Senators’ 9-yard line, quarterback Isaiah Johnson connected with receiver Daniel Simms in the right corner of the end zone for a touchdown. Johnson fumbled the shotgun snap on the play, but gathered the ball, eluded pressure and fired the ball into the end zone with 8:00 to go in the third quarter.
The burst of momentum the Knights gained didn’t last long, as Macari sealed the Senators’ next drive with a 16-run dash to the end zone, making it 26-6 with 4:28 left in the third quarter.
“Once one of our running backs get going, we all get going,” Macari said . “Hopefully, we can build off this big time, after we lost a tough game to Ludlowe last week.”
Added Shavers: “We should have won our previous game and if we play like this our remaining games, we should stack up some wins.”