Clinging to a 7-point lead midway through the fourth quarter Saturday afternoon in Cambridge, Buckingham Browne & Nichols kept its offense on the field for fourth down.
The offensive linemen needed their minds, not just their 280-plus-pound frames, to win this battle against Belmont Hill. A hard count, a slight twitch, and one yellow flag at the line of scrimmage meant one thing: encroachment.
The Knights drew the penalty on the Hillies and kept the chains moving, paving the way for senior workhorse Zachary Cyr to punch in a 4-yard scoring run as BB&N pulled away for the 38-24 Independent School League win.
“On the ground, everything starts with the line and they got a big push on every play,” said Cyr, who finished his busy afternoon with 152 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries.
“I always stay faithful with that line in front of me. They never make me worried.”
Self-imposed wounds prevented Belmont Hill from gaining momentum early in the first quarter. On the game’s first series, BB&N defensive back Salvatore Malignaggi picked off Michael Piazza.
The Knights capitalized when the 5-foot-9-inch, 190-pound Cyr punctuated a seven-play, 35-yard drive by bulldozing over the goal line from the 3. Belmont Hill was plagued by false starts on its next few possessions before receiver Gregory Desrosiers tied the game, 7-7, on a 29-yard run.
BB&N pulled away after that.
The Knights (2-0) responded with 10 unanswered points in the final five minutes of the half, highlighted by another bruising touchdown run from Cyr.
“Zach is a great player for us,” said BB&N coach Mike Willey.
“We have a lot of great backs and we feel like any of those players can carry the rock for us,” added Willey when asked about Cyr’s 30 touches.
“We just go with the hot hand and whoever is doing a good job. So, today [Cyr] had a big day.”
After Belmont Hill kicker Patrick Walsh cut the deficit to 17-10 with a 19-yard field goal, BB&N’s offensive line kept Cyr and fellow back Matthew Bulman running downfield. Encroachment on Belmont Hill kept the Knights’ next drive alive, draining the clock down to three minutes left in regulation.
Cyr’s third touchdown gave the Knights a 24-10 lead. In a hectic final two minutes, a fumbled kickoff return gave the Knights the ball deep in Belmont Hill territory.
Bulman extended the lead to 21 with his best Cyr impersonation — bouncing off tackles and dipping his helmet past the goal line.
Bulman later added a 66-yard pick-6 in between two Piazza 5-yard touchdown passes to Justin O’Neil-Riley.
Mike Kotsopoulos can be reached at email@example.com.