HYANNIS — Leading up to Friday’s game with Natick, Barnstable had the hardest week of practice in the three years that Chris Whidden has coached the Red Raiders. Preparing for the best quarterback in the state was not an easy task. The hard work paid off as the Barnstable defense limited Troy Flutie and Hayden Murphy paced the offense with three scores as the sixth-ranked Red Raiders beat No. 2 Natick, 27-13, in the Division 2 South semifinals.
Flutie came in leading the state with 36 touchdown passes and was just two TD throws shy of Jonathan DiBiaso’s career mark of 103. The Barnstable defense made sure no records were broken as Flutie went 17 of 33 for 137 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He was also sacked four times.
“People have been saying that maybe we can’t cover [Flutie] but we have the best secondary in the state and we can handle any team and we proved it tonight that we can do it against the best of the best,” said Nathan Yingling, who had one of the interceptions, a 55-yard pick-6 with 15 seconds left in the first half.
“We didn’t think they were going to score more than two touchdowns period, never mind him throwing for three touchdown passes,” said Whidden.
Whidden praised the play of Murphy, who finished with 128 yards rushing and all three offensive scores for Barnstable.
“I hope everybody finally got to see how good Hayden Murphy is. He is our workhorse and we are going to ride him as long as we can,” said Whidden.
After a scoreless first quarter Natick got on the board in the second quarter when Flutie scrambled for a 14-yard score.
The Barnstable offense was dormant until the final drive of the first half when the Red Raiders went 73 yards in 1:35, tying the game at 6 on Murphy’s first score, a 15-yard run.
Natick (8-1) appeared to go three-and-out on the next drive but a roughing-the-kicker penalty gave the Redhawks a first down. On the next play Flutie was intercepted by Yingling, giving Barnstable a 13-7 lead at half.
Flutie’s lone TD pass came on Natick’s first drive of the second half when he found Alex Hilger on an 11-yard pass to tie the game at 13.
Barnstable (8-1) regained the lead with 3:18 left in the third when Murphy dove for a 1-yard TD, finishing a drive that started at the Natick 33 after a 16-yard punt.
With less than five minutes to play and Natick needing a score to tie, Derek Estes intercepted Flutie, which set up a 45-yard TD run by Murphy two plays later that put the game away.
“[Derek] is a ballhawk. In my book he is the best D-back in the state. He just has a knack for the football, just goes up and gets it,” said Murphy.
After a loss to Dennis-Yarmouth in the first week of the season, Barnstable has beaten powerhouses BC High, Xaverian, Bridgewater-Raynham, and Natick, and now the Red Raiders have made it to the Division 2 South final.
“I have never seen anybody so resilient. They have a refuse-to-lose attitude and they are not afraid of any challenge, no matter who it is,” said Whidden.