POLAND — It didn’t take long for the Poland Knights to recall mistakes from their past when they hosted Cape Elizabeth in a Western B football match up Saturday. An early fumble set up one Cape score and multiple miscues thereafter proved fatal as the Capers rolled to a 25-0 victory over the Knights.

In all, the Knights coughed up the football eight times, losing three, and added a muffed punt and an interception to their offensive woes. They totaled just 89 yards of offense, with all of them coming on the ground and averaged just over two yards per carry.

“Turnovers are a re-occurring problem from last year,” said Poland head coach Mark Soehren. “I thought we got rid of them in the preseason. People say it’s based on our triple option offense, but it’s a matter of mental toughness. I think three of them were from the option, but the rest were from snaps and handoffs.”

The first fumble came on the Knights opening series when quarterback Tony Whalen was flushed from the pocket by senior linebacker Jack Barber who stripped Whalen of the ball. Defensive tackle John Harrison recovered the fumble at the Poland 18.

Five plays later, Cape quarterback Derek Roberts zipped up the middle untouched for an 8-yard score.

“The guard pulled and created a hole,” said the junior signal caller. “He sealed the linebacker and it was there.”

Roberts was starting his first varsity game in Cape’s spread offense, but he looked like a veteran as he picked up 72 yards on the ground and rushed for a pair of scores while throwing for another.

“I’m very happy with some of the things he did,” said Cape coach Aaron Filieo. “He missed a couple of reads and missed some throws, but he made some plays out there.”

“I had a couple of preseason starts,” said Roberts. “It’s just like playing JV with bigger players.”

One bright spot for Poland was the play of its defense. It limited the Cape offense to just one drive longer than 39 yards, something Soehren was quick to point out at the end of the game.

“Three of those scores are on the offense,” said Soehren. “You give anyone 20 yards (to the end zone) and it’s tough to stop them. A better offense will equal a better defense.”

The Knights held the visitors to a stalemate for much of the first half following the opening score. With just under three minutes remaining before intermission, the Knights rolled the dice on fourth-and-2 from their own 39 despite having achieved just one first down up to that point. The result was disastrous as Whalen was smothered at the line of scrimmage by a host of Cape linemen.

The Capers promptly marched down the short field with Roberts calling his own number again for a 9-yard score with just 24.5 seconds left in the half.

If there was any doubt of the outcome, Barber put the game away on a 29-yard burst early in the fourth quarter. The senior fullback/linebacker may have been the best player for either side Saturday as he picked up 111 yards on the ground on 15 carries and was all over the field defensively. Whenever Whalen went back to pass, he was running for his life with Barber on his heels.

“He’s a good athlete,” said Filieo. “He’s able to key the ball and fly around.”

The final score came after Poland fumbled a snap on its own 19. A quick, three-play scoring drive was culminated by a Roberts 11-yard touchdown pass to end Kyle Danielson on a fade pattern into the left-hand corner of the end zone.

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