WALPOLE - The offenses for Weymouth and Walpole have attracted most of the attention this season, but yesterday the defenses proved they deserve a little credit, too.
The battle between the Bay State Herget and Carey division champions ended with Walpole celebrating a 14-7 Thanksgiving victory in the 12th meeting between the schools.
Weymouth struggled to get anything going in the first half without junior tailback Royce Terrell, who was out with an injury. Even with the experience of fullback Michael Waithe, a 2006 Globe All-Scholastic, the Wildcats were stumped offensively. They mustered two first downs on four possessions in the half.
The struggles forced Weymouth coach Kevin Mackin to take a chance in the third quarter. The Wildcats were down, 6-0, when they were faced with fourth and 1 from their 34. Weymouth (10-1) went for it, but Walpole's defense formed a wall that bounced Weymouth backward.
"It was a huge momentum shift for us," Walpole lineman Andrew Fellini said. "Our defense is really underrated. I think we really stepped up and showed people what we could do."
When Walpole (10-1) took possession, it needed four plays before sophomore quarterback Sonny Mastromatteo found Billy Hickey for a 17-yard touchdown with 5:25 left. Tailback Ryan Izzo ran in the 2-point conversion to give Walpole a 14-0 lead.
Mastromatteo completed 7 of 11 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns. His first scoring toss was a 41-yarder to Ryan Collins in the second quarter.
Izzo has been the offensive spark for Walpole this season, leading Division 2 with 28 touchdowns. But when Izzo was limited yesterday, Mastromatteo went to other options, connecting with his brother Niccolo Mastromatteo, Collins, or Hickey.
In the second half, Izzo's production increased, and he ended the game with 156 yards on 32 carries. Izzo was 1 yard shy of a touchdown in the final seconds of the fourth quarter as the game ended with Weymouth stopping Walpole short.
Walpole coach Danny Villa said his team's defensive performance spilled over to the offense.
"It was more important for our defense to hang in their and plug away, because eventually, our running game is going to get going," Villa said.
Weymouth managed its only touchdown in the fourth quarter when Jake Harrison completed a 19-yard pass to Waithe with 4:01 left. That capped a 77-yard drive on 11 plays.
Mackin said the first loss of the season was a chance to remind the Wildcats what is at stake next week when the playoffs begin.
"It's playoff time and it's elimination time," Mackin said. "We need to get our focus back and play football the way we did for the most part today and the way we have for the entire season."
Villa said he expected a defensive battle yesterday and believes both teams will be ready for the postseason. Walpole will face Melrose in Division 2, and Weymouth takes on Marshfield in Division 1A.
"I think the Bay State is going to be represented well in the tournament," Villa said.
Monique Walker can be reached at email@example.com