GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. -- In the first week of the season, second effort was key for the Monument Mountain football team.
Spartan backs Jack O’Brien and Ashton Aloisi gained some of their most important yards after contact, as Monument Mountain pushed the pile far enough just often enough to earn a 14-6 win over Drury in the season opener for both teams.
O’Brien ran for a game-high 104 yards, Aloisi finished with 54, and each scored a touchdown as the Spartans made a winner of interim head coach Dennis Martin.
“Over the years of playing in high school … I’ve always been a bigger kid,” O’Brien said. “I’ve got big thighs. And they’ve told me: Just keep on running. That’s all I’ve gotta do.
“I’ve got the speed to run downhill. But I couldn’t have done it without my line. My line was absolutely amazing tonight. It was awesome.”
Seemingly the whole Monument Mountain line and then some were involved in the scrum that produced a key 17-yard pickup for Aloisi early in the second quarter.
That gain down the right sideline gave Monument Mountain a fourth-and-6 conversion and first and goal at the 3.
Aloisi ran it in from there, and Caden O’Roarke ran in the 2-point conversion to give the Spartans an 8-0 lead.
Drury nearly got the equalizer late in the second quarter.
A third-down option pass from Dante Woodson near midfield was on target in the right flat, but the receiver could not haul it in, and the Blue Devils were forced to punt.
“We had opportunities,” Drury coach Al Marceau said of his offense. “The line played pretty well. We had some trouble when they were blitzing. And, you know, with the new cut rule, it’s hard because we’re accustomed to pinching dow, stepping inside and cutting linebackers. And now you can’t do it. It is what it is. We have some stuff to clean up.
“Defensively, I thought we played well.”
Both teams had trouble sustaining drives.
Monument’s best offensive possession was the one that ended in Aloisi’s touchdown. It started at the Spartan’s 40 and consumed 3 minutes, 57 seconds, spanning the first and second quarters.
The Spartans needed to go just 42 yards to score their second touchdown after a Drury fumble on its first possession of the second half.
O’Brien had the big gains in the drive: a 12-yard pickup on third-and-3 at the 21 and the score from the 3.
Though it went just 42 yards, that drive ate up more than half the quarter, consuming 6:41 off the play clock and leaving Drury precious little time to get back into the game down, 14-0.
But the Blue Devils found an answer in the form of a 71-yard scoring drive on the ensuing possession.
This time around, the option pass worked as Anthony Pettengill took the ball from QB Keeghan Vidal and found Payton Barnes for a 30-yard completion down to the 8.
Two plays later, Vidal scored on a 14-yard run to the right side to get Drury within one score with 8:40 left in the game.
Marceau then gambled on the kickoff, and Pettengill recovered the onside kick to give Drury the ball at the plus-48.
But on its second play from scrimmage, Monument Mountain’s Ty Duquette made an interception.
Drury’s defense held the Spartans to three-and-out, but the Blue Devils failed to make a first down themselves, turning the ball over on downs with 4:03 to play.
From there, Aloisi and O’Brien gained enough to produce two first downs and run out the clock.
Monument Mountain will look to build on its momentum next Friday when it hosts Frontier.
Marceau said he is looking forward to the coming bye week to continue developing a young Drury squad that showed flashes on Friday night.
“You can only work so much in practice when you don’t have numbers,” he said. “The practices tend not to be … the same quality because you have even younger kids going against young kids.
“It’s all stuff that can be fixed. We’ve just gotta fix it.”