Mount Greylock Outlasts Lee in OT

By Stephen Sports
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LEE, Mass. -- In a game filled with twists and turns, big plays and comebacks, takeaways and momentum-changing penalties, it all came down to a pair of two-point conversion tries in overtime.
One make. One miss. One whale of a football game.
Mount Greylock’s Michael Wellspeak hit Taylor Cummings in the end zone to give his team a 36-28 lead in the first overtime session, and the Mounties’ defense denied the Wildcats on their two-pointer moments later as the visitors earned a 38-36 win and a leg up in the Intercounty South standings.
Cal Messina ran for 49 yards from scrimmage and returned a kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown in a wild third quarter.
He also was part of a defense that made just enough plays, including one big one on the game’s final play, to help Mount Greylock win its third straight, improve to 3-1 this fall and hand Lee its first loss.
“We knew they were going to come with something tricky, because they have pretty smart play-calling, pretty good short distance calls,” Messina said. “We’d seen it all game. We knew we had to stay home and do our jobs -- do what we were practicing day in and day out all week.
“We knew we had the skill to do it, and we did it.”
The Mounties successfully defended Lee’s pass for two, and as the ball hit the ground, the Mount Greylock sideline celebrated like it had won a title.
And on this night, it kind of had. The title of survivor.
“Mental toughness is something we talk about,” Mount Greylock coach Andrew Agostini said. “I don’t think that’s something you’re born with. I think it’s something you earn. I think we’ve worked on that throughout the season, just being tough.
“In practice this week, we went over a lot of situations -- maybe not these particular ones that came up. But we always look weird things, try to do weird things and just be as prepared as we can.
“But this was about the kids and the heart and desire that they played with. Because both teams were gassed at the end. We just happened to make more plays than them. That’s really all it came down to.”
Each team had to play from behind twice just to get to overtime.
The Mounties struck first when they went 66 yards on their opening possession to take a 6-0 lead on a 30-yard run by Wellspeak.
Lee answered with a 62-yard march that ended on a trick play: running back Lukas Loehr to Dominic Bartini in the end zone. Will Consolati’s extra point made it 7-6, Wildcats.
But Mount Greylock responded with a 73-yard drive keyed by a 23-yard pass from Wellspeak to Eli Ostheimer. Wellspeak threw to Sean McCormack for the two-pointer and went ahead, 14-7.
It took the game’s biggest lead moments later when Reece Gillette recovered a fumble and ran it back 30 yards for the lineman’s second touchdown of the season. Another Wellspeak pass for two pushed the Mounties’ lead to 22-7.
“Greylock’s a great team,” Lee coach Keith Thomson said. “We knew that coming it. I thought we rose to the challenge. We were 3-0 coming in with three blowout wins. You never really find out about a team until their backs are against the wall, you get a little adversity.
“We fell behind by two scores early, and, boy, they showed what they have tonight.”
Four plays after falling behind by 15, Lee quarterback Homer Winston hit Jake Corcoran for a 60-yard score to get the ‘Cats within seven points, 22-15, at half-time.
The teams combined for 19 points in a back-and-forth third quarter.
First, Winston hit Ben Harding in the back of the end zone for a 22-yard score. The point after failed, and Mount Greylock clung to a 22-21 lead.
The Mounties appeared to seize back the momentum when Messina’s 35-yard return on the ensuing kickoff got the ball to the midfield stripe. A 5-yard run by Wellspeak and an 11-yard run by Cummings got the ball to the 34.
But on the next play, Loehr intercepted Wellspeak to give Lee the ball on its own 3. A 1-yard run by Andrew Reuf got the ball to the 4, and Corcoran did the rest, catching a ball from Winston (224 yards passing) and racing 96 yards for the TD.
Consolati’s PAT gave Lee a 28-22 lead with 2 minutes, 43 seconds left in the third.
But Messina took the ensuing kickoff back 80 yards for the tying score.
“We were all pumped up,” he said. “We’d been battling back and forth the whole game. We knew they were a good team, so we knew we had to make plays where it counted. I just got the ball, and thanks to our blockers, I just took it and ran as fast as I could.”
After the wild first 33 minutes, the teams fought a war of attrition in the fourth. Lee ground out a possession from its own 10 that went as far as the Mount Greylock 31 before an Ostheimer sack and an intentional grounding call pushed the ‘Cats back into negative territory.
Lee won the coin toss to start OT and elected to start on defense.
The Mounties failed to score from the 10 on their first four plays, but a personal foul in the end zone on fourth down gave Agostini’s team a second chance with first and goal from the 5. Three plays later, Wellspeak dove in from the 1.
Lee needed three plays on its first overtime possession to get in the end zone on a 4-yard run by Loehr.
But the winning points came from the arm of Wellspeak and the Mount Greylock passing game, which was relatively quiet all night, accounting for just 34 yards from scrimmage on two completions offset by two interceptions.
“Our game plan was really to run the ball,” Agostini said. “We’ve got a lot of good backs. We’ve been running the ball really well. … My assistant coach reminds me, ‘Run the ball, run the ball, run the ball.’ I’d love to throw the ball 50 times a game. But when the run’s working, sometimes you have to run the ball.
“But one of our completions won us the game. That was huge.”
Mount Greylock (3-1) takes a three-game winning streak into next Saturday’s game at Monument Mountain. Lee (3-1) is at Ludlow next Friday.
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