The Cup is home.
Sparked by the spirited play of junior Jeff Lynch and his two touchdowns, the Martha’s Vineyard football squad recaptured the Island Cup last Saturday, defeating Nantucket 38-12. The win marked the end of the Vineyarders’ perfect 10-0 regular season and secured them a spot in the Division 5 Super Bowl on Dec. 4 at Boston University.
In a game dominated by the Vineyard, Lynch was the standout. He returned an interception 58 yards for a touchdown, scored on a four-yard run and blocked two punts. If anyone doubted the strength of the Vineyard program beyond its talented seniors, Lynch erased their doubts. And keeping with the youthful theme, junior Travis Baptiste also scored on a 55-yard interception return.
The 53rd meeting of the Island schools started slow and was scoreless at the end of a first quarter that saw Nantucket coach Vito Capizzo use three timeouts while Vineyard coach Don Herman used one. Although Nantucket’s timeouts were largely the result of defensive confusion, it was clear from the opening kickoff that Coach Capizzo intended to play the game at a snail’s pace.
The Vineyard presented the only scoring threat in the first quarter, but was stopped on four consecutive downs inside the Whaler’s 15-yard line.
Nantucket opened the second quarter with the makings of a solid drive, moving the ball consistently and reaching Vineyard territory. But just when the Whalers looked to be gaining confidence against the Vineyard defense, Lynch picked off a floating pass into the wind from Whaler quarterback Jon Barone. Lynch took the interception 58 yards into the end zone, simply outrunning two Nantucket players who should have easily caught the speedy junior and pushed him out of bounds.
Geoff Phillips kicked the extra point to give the purple and white a 7-0 lead.
The Whalers were shut down on the ensuing drive and forced to punt from inside their own 30. Lynch rushed kicker Tristan McKee and laid a hit on him that would have knocked the teeth out of a stone statue. McKee was removed from the game and the Vineyard had the ball on the Whalers’ 20-yard line. Four plays later, quarterback Jordan Baptiste hit Ted Bennett in the end zone for a six-yard score. Geoff Phillips kicked the extra point and the Vineyard led 14-0.
For the remainder of the half the Vineyard defense was the story. Nantucket had the wind at its back in the first quarter, but never managed to establish a scoring drive. In the second quarter the Whalers were forced to run . . . and you don’t run on the Vineyard. Jarrett Campbell, James Hale, Ted Bennett and Seth Abbott worked together to shut down the Whalers’ running game, forcing Nantucket to punt. And even then the Vineyarders were on the Whalers, as Lynch blocked yet another in the second quarter, again giving the Vineyarders good position in Nantucket territory.
This time Coach Herman went to Geoff Phillips, who kicked a 30-yard field goal to give the Vineyard a 17-0 lead going into the break.
The third quarter was more of the same as the Vineyard pounded the ball into Whalers territory and Jeff Lynch finished the drive with a four-yard touchdown run. Once again Phillips kicked the point after, giving the Vineyarders a 24-point lead.
Nantucket went to the air in response, trying desperately to establish some kind of offensive threat, but Travis Baptiste picked off a Jon Barone pass and ran 55 yards for the score. With the point after the Vineyard led 31-0.
Finally, with hopes of an upset victory fading fast, the Whalers responded. Chris Beamish ran 52 yards up the sideline by the Vineyard fans and into the end zone for the first Nantucket touchdown of the game. The Whalers failed on the extra point attempt and found themselves down 31-6. A screen play with 37 seconds remaining in the third quarter led to a 67-yard Whalers touchdown, bringing the score to 31-12. The Whalers failed on the two-point conversion, but were successful at gaining the attention of a few Vineyard fans who had become complacent.
With momentum on their side, Nantucket sought to strike again, but was unable to penetrate the Vineyard defense. Ted Bennett finished the game with 11 tackles; Seth Abbott had nine, and James Hale had eight. The Vineyarders dealt the last blow with 2:57 remaining in the game as Jade Cash took a 10-yard pass from Baptiste 75 yards into the WhalersÕ end zone, burning three blue and white defenders on his way. 
A final kick from Geoff Phillips made the score 38-12, which held up until the final whistle.
The Vineyarders finished the game with 224 total yards in offense, compared to 138 for Nantucket. The final game of the season will be played next Saturday at Boston University against the winner of the East Boston and South Boston game.