LEE, Mass. -- After watching his team beat its first two opponents by a combined score of 99-0, Hoosac Valley football coach Mark Harrington was ready for something completely different.
The Lee Wildcats gave the Hurricanes just that, but Hoosac Valley prevailed, 12-7, to improve to 3-0 under the lights at Consolati Field.
“This was what I’ve been waiting for all year, to play a tough team and see how hard they would hit and how they would stay together,” Harrington said. “When [the Hurricanes] got that first score, I know they were excited then.
“I tell you, though, most of the credit goes -- I’ve got two coordinators, Mikey [Bostwick] on offense and Matt McBride on defense. They had a good game plan, and the kids, they got ‘em to do their job.”
Seniors Liam Feeley and Izaha Stubbs carried a lot of the load on offense and defense.
Feeley scored a touchdown and ran for 85 yards -- none bigger than a gutsy fourth-and-5 conversion with less than a minute left to play that allowed the Hurricanes to run out the clock in the fourth quarter.
Stubbs caught a 59-yard completion from sophomore QB Carson Meczywor to set up Hoosac Valley’s second TD and made the play of the game on defense in the third quarter.
Although Hoosac Valley’s defense finally gave up its first points of the season with 2 minutes, 43 seconds left in the fourth, Friday’s performance was maybe its most impressive of the young season.
“We’ve just gotta stay focused, stay focused on defense,” Stubbs said. “Know what we’re doing, fill our roles, make tackles, make plays and stuff.”
Hoosac’s first big stop of the game came when the Wildcats (1-2) went for a fourth-and-3 at the Hurricane’s 21 late in the first quarter. The Hoosac defense held Lee to a 2-yard run and got the ball back to start the second.
After the teams traded a couple of more punts, Hoosac Valley got the ball on its 35 with 7:42 left until half-time.
It then marched down the field with a drive that consumed 7:01 off the clock and ended with Meczywor plunging through the left side of the line for 1 yard and a 6-0 lead.
That run was the third fourth-down conversion of the drive, which saw Aaron Bush (30 yards) pick up two of those first downs.
The third quarter started with three possessions ending in punts -- an area where Joe Delmolino excelled for the Hurricanes.
“He’s a great kicker, too,” Harrington said. “He kicked the ball deep, as you saw. He’s a great punter. But he’s also good at kicking extra points. He’s a captain. He’s a great player.
“Special teams helped. We didn’t give them any big returns, any big punt returns. All the kids on special teams played well.”
Lee’s offense finally started to click on its second possession of the third quarter.
Jimmy Purcell hooked up with Nick Nicotra for a 50-yard completion that got the ball to the Hoosac Valley 20.
But Delmolino made a stop for no gain on first down, and the Wildcats were thrown for a 1-yard loss on second. After a third-down incompletion, Lee opted to go for the equalizer.
That’s when Stubbs knocked down a pass near the goalline to deny Lee the scoring chance and get the ball back for the Hurricanes.
Hoosac then went 79 yards in a drive that spanned the third and fourth quarters and included the 59-yard completion from Meczwywor to Stubbs. Feeley capped the drive with a 3-yard run on second and goal to put the Hurricanes up by two scores.
Lee gave up the ball on downs on its ensuing possession, but the Hurricanes did likewise.
Purcell and the Wildcats offense got the ball back with 5:31 on the clock, and went 72 yards for its first score -- a 4-yard run by Jack Purcell -- with 2:43 on the clock.
Lee tried an onsides kick, which Logan Leja smothered at midfield for the Hurricanes. Hoosac Valley then ran out the clock by picking up two first downs -- the second on Feeley’s final run to convert that fourth-and-5.
Hoosac Valley finally stays off the yellow school buses next week as it plays its home opener on Friday under the lights at Renfrew Park against Putnam.
Lee is home next Friday against Pittsfield.