Easthampton Edges Lee on Late Score
LEE, Mass. -- The Easthampton football team took advantage of a muffed punt attempt to score the go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter, and the Eagles held Lee scoreless on three straight possessions to end a 20-19 win over the Wildcats on Friday night.
Lee failed to convert on fourth down on its first two possessions of the fourth quarter, and the visitors picked off a pass with 55 seconds left to end the third possession as the Wildcats (4-2) saw a three-game winning streak come to an end.
Lee’s offensive frustration was not limited to those last few possessions.
Easthampton (4-1) held Lee to 45 yards rushing and 142 yards passing -- 60 of which came on a scoring strike from Hayden Siok to Dylan Ely to put the Wildcats on top, 19-14, late in the second quarter.
“Give credit to Easthampton,” Lee coach Keith Thomson said. “They beat us up front tonight. We got beat up front time and time again. I thought we had some things available, but we didn’t make the plays when they needed to be made, and they did.
“So they get out of here with a tight victory. It’s a tough blow. It’s a bitter pill to swallow. I thought our kids played hard. I just told them: We’ll feel bad for 24 hours and then pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and start getting ready to play next week.”
Friday’s Senior Night on Consolati Field was largely about defense, which, in the first half, turned into offense.
An Easthampton interception return for a touchdown late in the first quarter produced the night’s first score, and Shea Healy threw for a two-point conversion to put the Eagles up, 8-0.
Early in the second quarter, a fumble recovery by Lee’s Shaun Kinney gave the Wildcats a short field to work with, and Lee scored on a four-play, 10-yard drive that ended with a 7-yard pass from Siok to Ely. The Wildcats’ conversion was no good, and Easthampton maintained an 8-6 lead.
But on the Eagles’ ensuing possession, Cam Tyer broke up a fourth-down pass attempt for Lee’s defense, giving his team the ball at the Easthampton 30. Four plays later, Siok hit Elliot Winston for a 17-yard score; the point after was no good, but Lee had a 12-8 lead.
Easthampton immediately answered with the game’s biggest play from scrimmage, a 66-yard catch and run from Healy to BB Tauscher to make it 14-12, Eagles.
Lee then answered with Siok’s third touchdown throw of the night, to Ely for 60 yards. The Wildcats kicked the extra point and took a 19-14 lead into half-time after a stretch that saw the teams combine for 25 points in less than five minutes.
After all that offense in the second quarter, neither defense gave up much in the second half.
Easthampton finally caught a break on a muffed punt attempt with 2:16 left in the third to give the Eagles the ball at the plus-34.
It took them eight plays, but they finally punched it in on second-and-goal from the 5 to take a one-point lead that they never relinquished.
Lee has an extra day to get ready for next week’s regular season finale at Hoosac Valley (5-1) on Saturday afternoon.
“We’ll be ready,” Thomson said. “It’s a stiff challenge up there, as you know. We’ll go back to the drawing board and try to heal our wounds and get ourselves a little better. It’s a big rivalry for the last several years, and after this one, it becomes a must-win game for us going forward.”