PITTSFIELD, Mass - The Taconic football team enjoyed contributions from all over the roster on Friday night to lead the way to a 30-18 victory over the Pittsfield Generals, at Gene Dellea Field at Berkshire Community College.
Taconic showcased a diverse rushing attack and also forced five turnovers on defense to earn the victory in the “City Championship” rivalry game.
After falling behind early on, Taconic (3-5) scored 30 unanswered points. it erupted for 22 points in the second quarter, taking a commanding lead that it never relinquished.
Anthony Johnson paced the rushing attack as he churned up 153 yards on 17 carries. The junior also had two rushing touchdowns, as well as five tackles on defense.
“We did our thing out there; our line blocked and we ran the ball well,” Johnson said. “We worked hard in practice and we came here and did our thing. This win means a lot.”
Taconic has now won four straight in the rivalry series. For the seniors, Friday’s win meant they earned the rivalry victory all four years of their careers at Taconic.
“This win means everything,” senior Wyatt George said. “It’s always fun to come out and play these guys, and it is always competitive. I’m just glad I got to finish it up with my brothers. It’s a great way to end here as a senior.”
The Taconic defense was tasked with the difficult job of containing Pittsfield’s dynamic rushing game, which was led by junior workhorse Emmanuel Nda. Taconic's front seven controlled the line of scrimmage and often disrupted plays in the backfield to keep the Generals from maintaining any offensive rhythm.
“We watched film on those guys, we worked hard and it was paying off,” George said. “We’ve been practicing in any condition and every day we are out there in any weather. We were watching them on film all week and we were ready for them. We just came out and we were ready.”
George led the defense with three sacks and five total tackles.
Turnovers helped to swing momentum in the second quarter, after Pittsfield (2-6) held control early on with a 6-0 lead after one quarter of play. Taconic actually registered its first turnover on the opening play of the night, when Connor Lawler recovered a fumble. But the Generals forced a turnover on downs and then mounted an impressive 14-play, 78-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by Nda that gave them the early edge.
As the clock ticked down towards the start of the second quarter, senior Luke Whitehouse forced a fumble that he then recovered to ignite Taconic. Held to just 4 yards on his first three carries, Johnson finally got going when he shed several tackles and powered his way to the end zone on a 37-yard TD run.
“I was a little nervous at first, because they are a good team. But as soon as I got warmed up, I felt better throughout the game,” Johnson said.
Haywood Eurquehart ran in the two-point conversion to put Taconic ahead, and four minutes later Dylan Burke added a 1-yard touchdown run that further extended that lead. After Nick Hall came up with another fumble recovery on the ensuing kickoff, Taconic tacked on another score when Eurquehart stretched out the play along the sideline and scored on an end-around sweep from 11 yards out.
Eurquehart then came up with a big play on defense to halt another Pittsfield drive, when he recovered a fumble deep in Taconic's end to preserve a 22-6 lead going into halftime.
Taconic kept its foot on the gas in the second half. Johnson maintained the momentum on their side as he spun his way into the end zone for a 30-6 lead with a 4-yard TD rush.
“I did a little juke to stay in there,” Johnson admitted. “It felt good.”
Nda then put the Generals on his back to lead the rally charge. With 3:58 left in the third quarter, he cut back and sprinted through the defense for a 23-yard touchdown.
As running lanes were now starting to open up, Nda chipped in another score with 7:46 remaining. Thanks to some nifty footwork along the sidelines, he managed to tiptoe the sideline and slip down the edge for a 30-yard TD run.
But still needing two scores, Pittsfield was forced to trust its passing attack down the stretch. After the defense held Taconic to a three-and-out, quarterback Patrick Rindfuss began to move the Generals down the field. Rindfuss connected with Sincere Moorer for 13 yards, then found Louis Rhodes for another 13 yards, before crossing midfield on a 25-yard pass to Moorer.
Lander Cole then came up with an interception that helped seal the victory for Taconic. Cole also recorded two tackles on the night.
Luke Whitehouse led the Taconic defense with six tackles and a sack, while Andrew McIntosh had five tackles and a sack.
Nda closed out the night with 120 yards on 20 carries, with three touchdowns. The junior has rushed for 1,388 yards and 17 touchdowns this year.
Connor Hayford led the Pittsfield defense with 11 tackles, while Joe Difiippo had seven tackles. Anthony Pettibone and Michael Charles both added five tackles, while Louis Rhodes and Shawn O’Shea chipped in with four tackles apiece.