Whittier can't cash in; Wildcats fall to unbeaten Nashoba

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Sep. 23—HAVERHILL — When the Whittier Tech Wildcats hit the film room sometime this weekend, coach Kevin Bradley will probably dub the third quarter from Thursday night, "opportunity lost."

The Wildcats, trailing Nashoba Tech at halftime, 12-6, took 21 offensive snaps in the third, all but two on Vikings' turf.

All Whittier could cash in for, though, was a mere two-point safety.

"That's been our thing this year. We get down into the red zone and something happens," said Bradley. "We're just young and we have to find a way to click. Once that happens, and the kids can believe in themselves, we'll be all right. We graduated 21 seniors last year. We're having growing pains."

The result was a 12-8 loss, the youthful Cats' third straight to open the year, while Nashoba moved to a perfect 3-0.

The most crushing moment of the fateful third came late after a wild sequence.

First, Whittier punter Jeremy Rousseau pinned the visitors at their two with a 41-yard coffin-corner punt.

When bruiser Jakai Mitchell busted into the Nashoba backfield and tackled the runner at the line, it looked like a safety. Instead, it was second down from the one-millimeter line.

Nashoba chose to go to the air, and it looked like coach Danny Kelly hit the lottery when Anthony Montesanti caught a quick slant and had nothing but green in his sights.

While running at about the 30, the ball came loose as he tried to switch hands and he kicked it forward. A hustling, never-quitting Nick Almanzar pounced on it for Whittier, and a Nashoba penalty put the Cats in play at the 35.

QB Camden West hit Chase Bowen for 14 on fourth-and-9, then found Thomas Galvin for 15 more, setting Whittier up at first-and-goal from the 7.

But with the lead, and probably the game, slipped away when four straight runs came up short at the 1.

"We've got to put that in. No excuses on that. I thought, if we put that one in, we've got it," said Bradley.

The Cats ultimately got their safety, when Almanzar and Eric Talley stuffed a run in the end zone to make it 12-8, but with three more possessions, Whittier never got the offense back in gear.

West, who scored the only Whittier TD on a 4-yard first quarter keeper, finished the night going 17 of 28 for 165 yards and a pair of interceptions. Daniel Knowlton had four catches for 79 yards to lead the receiving corps. Galvin and Almanzar combined for nine more grabs.

"They made some big catches. and they've all been making clutch catches for us," said Bradley.

Rousseau had a first-half strip sack — shared by William King — and recovered a fumble to lead the suddenly stingy Whittier defense.

"We were in it the whole way, there was no giving up. I'm proud of the kids," Bradley said.