OAK BLUFFS – For the second straight season, Jacob Cardoza spelled the difference.
Tied with the visiting Nantucket Whalers (8-3) at 7-7 heading into the 4th quarter, Martha’s Vineyard went ahead 21-7 on a pair of Cardoza touchdown receptions from senior quarterback Mike Mussell, making it Mussell’s 18th touchdown pass for the season and 12th to his star wide receiver. Cardoza also scored both of the Vineyard’s touchdowns in last season’s 14-0 victory.
Mussell set the Martha’s Vineyard all-time single season passing (yardage) record and needed just 48 yards at opening kickoff to do so.
The victory for the host Vineyarders was their 11th straight in the vaunted Island Cup series, and it gave the Purple and White a 6-5 record to finish the 2014 season. The Whalers, under first-year head coach Brian Ryder, had a spectacular season at 8-3 and went 5-0 in the Cape & Islands League. The 2013 season was head coach Vito Capizzo’s 45th and final season at the helm for his beloved Whaler Eleven.
Six penalties in the first half totaling 90 yards severely hampered the Nantucket offense in terms of field position and gave the Vineyarders a solid shot at maintaining their early 7-0 lead. While both defenses played exceptionally well throughout the well-attended match-up, the hosts went into the halftime locker room maintaining that 7-0 lead and never looked back.
Nantucket back-up quarterback Andrew Ray, a 6-3 junior, took over the reins to open the second half and marched the Whalers 70 yards into paydirt with Keenan Phillips scoring on the 11th play of the drive at the 6:07 mark of the 3rd quarter. Quinn Town’s PAT kick was good, and the score was knotted at 7-7, much to the delight of the Whaler fans on hand.
An ensuing, serious injury to Nantucket senior wide receiver Justin Halford, however, may have taken the wind out of the Whalers’ collective sails. He had recorded an interception and a key fumble recovery on the defensive side of the ball for the visitors.
But with 9:06 left in the 4th quarter, Mussell hit Cardoza from the 11-yard line to make it 13-7 and the PAT made it 14-7. With just over 5:00 left, Mussell hit Cardoza again to make it 21-7 (combined with the PAT kick).
Nantucket has not won the Island Cup since 2002.
By Sean Walsh/CCB Media Sports Editor
Follow him on Twitter @coachwalshccbm