William McHugh broke through the line of scrimmage and had nothing but green grass ahead. The large Watertown contingent cheered on the senior from the red Fenway Park seats as he darted toward the end zone. On the sideline, players and coaches followed.
His 55-yard touchdown run with 1:41 left sealed Watertown’s 21-7 win over Belmont in the 100th meeting between the Thanksgiving Day rivals Wednesday night at Fenway Park.
“It meant everything,” said McHugh. “This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m just happy to come out with the win.”
Watertown (7-4) now leads the series, 50-45-5. Players on both teams wore patches on their jerseys commemorating the milestone meeting between the Middlesex League foes.
The occasion became even more special at a historic venue like Fenway, with fans, students, and alumni packing the bleachers along the first-base line.
“For 100 years this was the biggest game of these people’s lives,” said Watertown senior quarterback Johnny Cacace. “To play this on one of the biggest stages in Massachusetts, we came out and showed out pretty well.”
Behind Payton Andrade, McHugh, and Cacace, Watertown dominated on the ground, moving the sticks and chewing up clock in a slow, defensive-minded battle.
Cacace, the son of coach John Cacace, gave the Raiders a 7-0 lead midway through the second quarter when he rolled to the left edge and dragged a defender into the end zone for a 9-yard run.
After Belmont (4-6) tied it 7-7 on Asa Rosenmeier’s 1-yard run on the final play of the first half, McHugh scored on a 2-yard dart before icing the game with his 55-yard scamper.
The Watertown defense forced five Belmont punts in a dominant effort.
“We played physical, ran the ball,” said coach John Cacace. “It feels great. We work all year to finish like this.”
Added the younger Cacace, “For the rest of our lives we can say we played the last game of our careers at Fenway Park and we beat Belmont.”