Pittsfield Outlasts Lee in Epic Friday Night Battle

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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LEE, Mass. -- After Patrick Rindfuss’ 11-yard touchdown in the final minute secured a 42-34 victory over the Lee Wildcats on Friday night, the Pittsfield High Generals gathered at midfield for a quick team photo.
A bit of overkill for a team picking up its first win of the season at the end of September?
Not on your life. Surviving this game was an accomplishment worth savoring and one the Generals will want to remember for a long time.
Emmanuel Nda ran for 288 yards and two touchdowns, Rindfuss scored three times and Sincere Moorer intercepted a pass and threw for 50 yards on a trick play to set up the winning score as Pittsfield came out on top in a back-and-forth battle on Consolati Field.
Pittsfield rallied from a 26-18 deficit in the third quarter and got a key sack from Connor Hayfor in the fourth to improve to 1-2 this fall.
“It was hard,” Moorer said of Pittsfield’s approach in the fourth quarter of the shootout. “We just had to tell ‘em to keep their heads up. There was a lot of emotion going in. And we struggled the second half the last two games. So we had to just come out the second half strong.”
Nda, a star sprinter in the spring for the PHS track and field team, proved tough at the line of scrimmage and elusive in the open field all night, breaking off runs of 37, 27, 53 and 35 yards in Pittsfield scoring drives.
“Honestly, when I see green grass, I’ve just gotta run,” Nda said. “That’s what I’ve been taught since I was in youth. Just go north or south -- not east to west -- just keep running and running.
“The beginning of the season was a rough start for the O-line, but we’re getting together and becoming a team now. And we’re just going to keep growing from here.”
Lee High (1-3) had a two-point lead at half-time after Jimmy Purcell (182 yards passing) hit Luke Patella for their third touchdown connection of the first half. Patella’s point-after kick made it 20-18 at intermission.
The Wildcats then stretched that lead to eight points on their first possession of the second half.
Lee covered an onsides kick at its own 49 and went to the end zone in a eight-play drive that featured two Purcell completions and his 1-yard plunge on second and goal to make it 26-18.
Pittsfield (1-2) saw its next drive end in the red zone on a fourth down interception, but it got the ball right back with a fumble recovery at the Lee 31 late in the third.
Nda carried the ball five plays to get it to the 1, and Rindfuss finished the drive from there. Pittsfield ran in the 2-pointer to tie the score, 26-26, going to the fourth.
Moorer started the fourth quarter with an interception and short return to the Lee 44.
Nda broke off a 35 yard run on the first play of the drive, and Rindfuss scored from the 9 to give Pittsfield a 34-26 lead.
Lee responded with a 70-yard scoring drive. Jack Purcell (110 yards rushing) picked up three first downs in the drive, and Jimmy Purcell ended it with an 18-yard strike to Tag Roosa. Purcell threw to Cole Redstone for the conversion to make it 34-34 with 4:45 on the clock.
Pittsfield fumbled on the first play of the ensuing possession, setting up Lee on the plus-35.
But the Generals’ defense stood tall, not allowing a first down. On fourth-and-6, Hayford registered the biggest tackle of the game to get the Generals the ball on their own 40.
Louis Rhodes picked up 14 yards and a first down on Pittsfield’s first play. After Nda was stopped for no gain at the plus-46, Pittsfield was flagged for a chop block and a 15 yard loss on second down.
Facing second-and-25 back in its own end of the field, Pittsfield coach Brian Jezewski reached into his bag of tricks.
“It’s something that we practice, probably on Thursday, you know, the pregame stuff,” Jezewski said. “They were pursuing to Eman [Nda], like I knew they would. We went with a revere and then a halfback pass, and Sincere played a little bit of quarterback for us last year. He can throw the ball.”
Moorer delivered with a 50-yard bomb that was hauled in by Brandon Cook to give Pittsfield first-and-10 at the Lee 11.
“We probably run it like once or twice, honestly,” Moorer said with a smile. “We ran it a couple of times last year, but this is, I think the second time all year that we ran it.”
Lee coach Keith Thomson said it came at the right time.
“We got lulled a little bit there,” he said. “We had the penalty, and we had them in a long yardage situation. They ran a reverse. Give coach Jezewski credit. It was a great call at that time.”
Rindfuss ran it in on the next play for his third score of the night to give Pittsfield a six-point lead with 39 seconds remaining. He then converted a broken play on the 2-point conversion, somehow finding Moorer in the end zone to put the Generals up, 42-34.
“You know, people talk about Eman [Nda], but Sincere Moorer and these guys -- Patrick Rindfuss is only a sophomore, Michael Charles is only a sophomore, and these kids can play,” Jezewski said. “And they’re kids, and they love it, and we love them. They’re great kids.
“Coaching football is fun again.”
Lee’s Jimmy Purcell threw a scare into the Generals in the final minute, completing four of five passes, but time expired with the Wildcats at about the Pittsfield 25 after Purcell was forced to throw underneath from his 33 with 6 seconds left.
Lee will look to break a string of three one-score losses next Friday when it hosts Mahar.
Pittsfield is home on Thursday night against South Hadley.
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