DALTON, Mass. -- Patrick Rindfuss threw for one touchdown and ran for another in a fourth-quarter comeback as Pittsfield beat Wahconah, 34-28, in a battle of Berkshire County’s last two undefeated teams on Friday night.
Rindfuss scored from the 6 with 2 minutes, 11 seconds left to play to win the game for Pittsfield, which trailed, 28-20, early in the fourth quarter.
Pittsfield (3-0) came into the game averaging 35 points per game, and though it ended the night just a hair under that average, its offense was arguably more dynamic than ever with the addition of Emmanuel Nda, who sat out the first two games of the Fall 2 season due to injury.
The West Point-bound senior ran for 118 yards and caught five passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-tying score in the fourth.
“He’s an unbelievable athlete,” Pittsfield coach Brian Jezewski said. “People don’t understand how hard he works in the offseason, what a great leader he is, what a great person he is.
“I don’t care how fast he is. He’s an amazing person. For him to have to sit out the last two weeks, be at every practice, do everything we ask him to do -- with these guys coming off the sideline, he’s giving them water, he’s helping them out, he’s being supportive.
“That’s someone we want representing our country.”
Rindfuss ran for 105 yards and threw for 117, and Michael Charles ran for 52 yards and a touchdown to help the Generals drop Wahconah to 3-1 this season.
Charles had the game’s first score on a 13-yard run to cap a 54-yard Pittsfield drive on the opening possession.
Wahconah answered with a 69-yard drive that ended in a 5-yard Jonah Smith run to make it 6-6.
Then after the teams traded three-and-outs, Pittsfield went 88 yards for its second score. The drive featured two connections from Rindfuss to Nda, including a 29-yard score to make it 12-6.
Pittsfield’s defense again held and a 51-yard punt return by Sincere Moorer set up the Generals’ offense on the plus-19. Four plays later, Anthony Johnson was in the end zone, and Nda’s two-point conversion gave the visitors at 20-6 lead midway through the second quarter.
Wahconah answered after a 40-yard kickoff return by Smith put the ball on Pittsfield’s 35. Zach Archambault (100 yards) scored from the 5, and Smith ran in the conversion to make it a one-score game, 20-14, with 2:58 left in the half.
Pittsfield then drove from its 35 to the Wahconah 2, but time expired before the Generals could get off a play on fourth-and-goal.
Wahconah opened the second quarter with a 70-yard drive -- all on the ground -- that ended with a 14-yard keeper by QB Quinn Gallagher. Archambault ran in the conversion to give Wahconah a 22-20 lead.
Pittsfield’s second possession of the second half started w ell, as it moved from its 17 to midfield, but a fourth-down sack by Wahconah’s Brad Noyes gave his team the ball at the plus-49 and plenty of momentum.
It cashed in on that momentum by going those 49 yards in five plays to extend its lead to 28-20 on an Archambault TD from the 1 with 10:19 left to play.
Pittsfield started its ensuing possession with a 23-yard kick return by Nda to the 40, and it went 60 yards in five plays -- the last 34 on a pass from Rindfuss to Nda. Rindfuss ran in the conversion to make it a tie game, 28-28, with 8:14 on the clock.
Pittsfield’s defense then held Wahconah to a three-and-out, and the Generals took over after a punt at their 22 with 5:53 left to play.
Pittsfield needed just 3:23 to go the distance. Rindfuss toted the ball for six times 36 yards, including the 6-yard score to take the lead with 2:11 left.
Wahconah’s offense got the ball at midfield after kickoff, but on second down, Pittsfield’s Bryson Jezewski grabbed an interception to allow his team to run out the clock.
Brian Jezewski said he did not know the last time the Generals beat Wahconah, but he knew it hadn’t happened in his tenure on East Street.
He credited his team’s mental toughness for its ability to get a win in Dalton when the Generals’ backs were to the wall in the fourth quarter.
“Resilience,” Jezewski said. “Resilience and mental toughness. We talked last week about all the work in the weight room. We had an extended off-season.
“Wahconah’s a tremendous football program. They’re the best. They’re well coached, well executed. Everything they do, they do right. I have so much respect for those guys over there. It’s like the haves versus have-nots. And I love our guys. I wouldn’t trade our guys for anything.”
It remains to be determined whether Wahconah will get another shot at Pittsfield. The Fall 2 season may be extended for a “post-season” week to allow for a county championship game after a meeting of the county athletic directors this week.
“I’m so proud of our guys,” Jezewski said. “I’m so unbelievably happy. … We’ll worry about next week next week. We’ll see how this is going to work out.”