WEYMOUTH — Natick sophomore wide receiver Brian Dunlap had never started a game on defense — not even while he worked his way through the ranks in Pop Warner football.
Instead, he tortured opposing defenses and carved through secondaries on his way to the end zone.
Dunlap finally got his shot at playing defensive back Friday night, and he returned an interception 16 yards to seal No. 8 Natick’s 42-23 win over ninth-ranked Weymouth in a battle of unbeatens.
“I’m just glad coach [Mark Mortarelli] decided to put me on D,” Dunlap said, who also scored on a 67-yard run in the first quarter. “I’ve been practicing for the first five games and finally got to get out there.”
Dunlap’s play in the final minutes epitomized the aggressive defensive effort the Red Hawks put forward, as they forced three fumbles and came up with two interceptions to hold Weymouth scoreless in the second half.
“It was the difference in the game,” Mortarelli said of the defensive effort. “In the first half they were moving the ball all over us. They were gashing us, that’s an unbelievable offense out there. But we made some small adjustments.”
Weymouth (5-1) took a 23-21 lead in the first half, and it could’ve been more had running back Ryan LaFazia and quarterback Dave Harrison not fumbled inside the Natick 5-yard line.
The Wildcats also suffered a huge blow before the break, as star wide receiver Ozzy Colarusso injured his left shoulder diving for the pylon after a 22-yard reception.
Colarusso didn’t return, spending the rest of the game with his arm in a sling.
Weymouth was able to chew up the clock in the third quarter, running off 6:27 before Natick’s Michael Abbruzzese intercepted Harrison at the 10-yard line.
Natick (6-0) needed just six plays to score, with quarterback Troy Flutie (231 yards rushing on 23 carries) scoring on a 21-yard run to give his team a 28-23 lead.
On the ensuing possession, Harrison fumbled near midfield. This time, Flutie (9 for 13, 167 yards) hit Justin Robinson for a 50-yard score to put Natick up, 35-23.
“I think our defense did great out there getting those turnovers,” Flutie said. “Their momentum after those big plays really impacted our O-line and our players and [we] hit the underneath stuff they were giving us the whole time.”
On the first play of the second quarter, Harrison fumbled inside the 5-yard line as Weymouth was driving to take the lead.
Natick needed just six plays to capitalize on the turnover, and Flutie boosted his team to a 14-7 lead with a 75-yard run.
After forcing Weymouth to punt on the next drive, Flutie used just three plays before connecting with Robinson for a 45-yard strike to give his team a 21-7 lead.
“Sometimes I want them to slow it down a little bit so we can catch our breaths on defense,” Mortarelli said. “We just have some guys that are dangerous with the ball in their hands and Troy makes really good decisions.”