“For a sophomore, he played like a man today and had a couple of huge plays. He gave us that necessary energy with the kickoff return and kind of set the tone for the second half."

MILLIS — With the Dover-Sherborn football team in search of a second-half spark, John Bennett delivered.

The Raiders found themselves trailing Millis by seven at the half after things didn’t necessarily go their way over the opening 24 minutes.

Bennett, however, gave his team the boost it needed.

He opened the second half with a nifty kickoff return, which helped set up the game-tying score. Then – early in the fourth quarter – he came through with the eventual game-winning touchdown, helping D-S grind out a 14-7 Tri-Valley League Small victory over the Mohawks on Saturday afternoon.

“We know Johnny is an outstanding player and today it was his turn to step up,” D-S coach Steve Ryan said after his team improved to 3-0. “For a sophomore, he played like a man today and had a couple of huge plays. He gave us that necessary energy with the kickoff return and kind of set the tone for the second half. He’s an athletic kid and he’s capable of making plays like that.”

Bennett wasn’t one of the deep men on the kickoff return to start the third quarter.

He was positioned slightly in front of them, but when a low bouncing kick came toward him, he scooped it up. Bennett found a little hole to the left before running into some trouble.

After taking a quick look to his right, Bennett decided to cut that way, darting all the way back across the field into open space. He was eventually brought down after roughly a 35-yard return, giving his team the ball on the Millis 42-yard line.

“It came right to me and I went left,” Bennett said. “But everybody else went that way, so I just reversed field back to the right. That felt great. It definitely lifted us at a time when we needed it.”

VIDEO: A trio of Raiders talk after their win over Millis

Here's senior captain Kirby Ryan and sophomores Grady Russo and John Bennett talking after@DSRaidersSports grinded out a 14-7 victory over@MillisMohawks@MetroWestSportspic.twitter.com/dFxza6CYLK

— Jared Keene (@JKeene11)September 28, 2019

Quarterback Kirby Ryan hit Luke Fielding for 20 yards on first down, with a facemask penalty on the Mohawks (1-3) giving D-S the ball on the 11. That’s when Ryan connected with Grady Russo (6 catches, 104 yards) on a fade in the corner of the end zone. Henry Murphy’s point after made it 7-7 just 55 seconds into the second half.

“We came out firing in the second half,” said Ryan, who finished 16-of-26 for 228 yards and the score. “It started right off the kickoff with Johnny’s return, which gave us good field position. That gave us an immediate boost and we scored within a minute.”

The game remained knotted at seven until the Raiders came up with a key drive.

Starting with the ball on their own 43 with 4:46 left in the third, they went 57 yards on 14 plays, chewing up 5:11 off the clock – the drive bridging into the fourth quarter. Bennett capped off the drive by taking a toss left, getting nice blocking from Efosa Imade, Logan Lancaster and Jack Wirth, and finding pay-dirt from five yards out.

VIDEO: John Bennett scores a TD for Dover-Sherborn football

John Bennett with a 5 yd TD run on the toss left. PAT is good to give D-S 14-7 lead 11:35 4Q@MetroWestSportspic.twitter.com/BSIcrzFIRK

— Jared Keene (@JKeene11)September 28, 2019

Murphy again delivered the point after, giving D-S a 14-7 lead with 11:35 left to play.

“I had some nice blocking that way and it was wide open, so I was able to just go right in,” Bennett said.

The entire second half also saw the Raiders make some necessary adjustments on the defensive side of the ball.

In the first half, D-S was getting burned by Millis running back Bryan Kane (125 total yards, TD) on sweeps to the outside and passes into the flats. Kane was consistently getting positive yardage on the sweeps and was picking up at least 6-or-7 yards, sometimes even more, on the catches he made.

But with the Raiders noticing that those runs and passes were going to the strong side of the the formation, they brought an extra guy over to that side to deal with the sweeps and the passes into the flats. It worked, as the Mohawks four offensive possessions resulted in an interception by Russo and three punts.

“We could not stop the sweep and those little passes into the flat in the first half,” Steve Ryan said. “We made some adjustments and the kids really adapted well. It was all about adding another guy to the strength of their formation. They weren’t really coming back the other way when they ran that trips formation. So we played to their strong side and the kids executed.”