CHESHIRE, Mass. – The second time Hoosac Valley’s Kadan Tatro touched the ball on Saturday afternoon, he raced down the left sideline for 38 yards and no one could catch him.
Once the Hurricanes’ defense caught up with its own offense, visiting Commerce had no chance.
Tatro rushed for 156 yards and four touchdowns, and Hoosac Valley’s “D” pitched a second half shutout in a 44-20 win on Senior Day for the Canes.
“That first big run really opened things up for the team,” Tatro said. “It kind of got us some momentum going and kind of changed the game from there.”
At the time, it gave Hoosac Valley (3-5) a 12-6 lead late in the first quarter.
But Commerce answered that score and matched Hoosac Valley touchdown for touchdown to go into half-time tied, 20-20.
It was a messy first half for both teams as they combined for more than 100 yards in penalties, but it also had some bright spots for Hoosac Valley’s offense, like an 18-yard pass from Kamarion Kastner to Qwanell Bradley to set up the Canes’ first TD and a 44-yard touchdown run by Tatro to give him 83 yards on the ground before half.
But Chase Johnson gave Hoosac Valley’s defense fits. The Commerce QB ran for 64 yards in the first half and threw a 29-yard scoring strike deep down the right side to Drequane Jones.
After giving up three touchdowns in the first half, Hoosac Valley allowed just two Commerce first downs in the second half.
“A little bit of alignment issues,” Hoosac Valley coach Mike Bostwick said. “And personnel, making sure we had the right personnel in the right place. So we made some little moves there.
“Other than that, we didn’t do too much at the half-time. I just talked to those guys about what the first half was like and how we weren’t happy with it and I wasn’t happy with it. All it boiled down to was discipline.”
Although Hoosac Valley is now eight games into a season that continues next week with the first of two games for non-qualifiers, the Hurricanes are a team that celebrated just one senior, Ryan Holland, on Saturday afternoon and features 11th ninth-graders and three eighth-graders on its 25-player roster.
“And with these guys, they’re so up and down,” Bostwick said. “I’m not going to make excuses for them, but the fact that they’re this young, it’s kind of what you get. During the week, they’re getting better every week. … I keep telling them: Discipline equals freedom for you guys. I’m going to give you more opportunities to make plays. But if you’re not disciplined, it’s a short leash.”
Commerce opened the second half by taking the ball from its 29 to the 50. But a 5-yard penalty gave it first-and-15, and Hoosac Valley eventually got the ball back on downs at its 44.
Seven plays later, Kastner hit Adan Wicks on a 31-yard touchdown pass up the left sideline to give the Hurricanes the lead for good at 26-20. Griffin Mucci (67 yards) ran in the two-point conversion, and Hoosac Valley never looked back.
A fumbled snap on a punt attempt deep in Commerce territory gave the Hurricanes the ball at the plus-14 to start the fourth quarter, and Tatro scored from the 3 to push the lead to 34-20.
Midway through the quarter, he went to the house from the 11 to cap the scoring.
“Early in the year, we tried to line [Tatro] up inside and run him north to south,” Bostwick said. “And it’s like, ‘This kid just doesn’t want to do that.’ So, I’m like, ‘Let’s not change him. Let’s embrace what he is and get him the ball on the edge.
“He’s got great hands, too. We haven’t even explored that much. Looking forward to exploring that. I think his speed and our team speed was pretty good today. We didn’t exactly know that going in, but it was good to see Kadan work the edges and making some nice cuts. He did cut it inside one time, which was nice.”