Spartans Win Shootout With Taconic
PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Here is a stat line you do
not see every day: 23 carries, 229 yards, five touchdowns ... your team lost.
That is the kind of day Taconic High School sophomore Anthony Whiteley had on Sunday against Monument Mountain, which jumped out to a 22-point half-time lead and hung on for a 56-35 win on Homecoming Day at Taconic.
All that offense that Berkshire County football teams were missing in Saturday's rain-soaked Hoosac-Wahconah showdown? They found it on a rare Sunday afternoon matchup under a clear blue sky.
As good as Whiteley was for Taconic (2-3), the Monument Mountain offense was even better behind the one-two punch of Mike Buffoni (14 carries, 166 yards, three TDs) and Terrance Powell (10 carries, 90 yards, a touchdown).
Throw in a couple of rushing touchdowns and a kickoff return for six by Brandon Perry and 131 passing yards and a TD from Austin Pectal, and the Spartans had A day to remember.
"One thing we really focused on this week was trying to develop a better passing game because [Pectal] can throw the ball," Monument coach Chris D'Aniello said. "He's pretty smooth with that.
"Overall, the offense was pretty good, pretty flawless. The line blocked well. The running backs ran hard. We were switching our backfield around this week, trying some new things there, and everything seemed to work in our favor."
Monument (2-3) scored on its first four possessions, needing a total of just 17 offensive plays to go ahead, 28-6, early in the second quarter.
After a fumbled handoff by Taconic gave Monument a short field on its first possession, Perry went in from the 13 for the first of the game's 13 touchdowns.
The Spartans went 51 yards for their next score. The last six came from Perry again. The point-after trailed, and it was 12-0 at the end of the first quarter.
The offenses were just getting warmed up.
Taconic capped a 70-yard drive on the first play of the second quarter when Whitelely took a pitch to the right and went 39 yards to cut Monument's lead in half.
But the Spartans responded with two scores wrapped around another fumble recovery. First, it was Buffoni on a 40-yard run. Then, after Taconic's ensuing possession lasted just one play, the visitors went 25 yards in five plays. Powell scored from the 7, and Buffoni ran in the two-point conversion to make it 28-6 at the half.
After resting up at half-time, the teams combined to score five third-quarter TDs.
They got an early start when Perry took the second half kickoff at his 13 and sprinted up the right sideline to score his third touchdown of the day. Buffoni's conversion pushed Monument's lead to 36-6.
Taconic struck quickly when Whiteley broke loose for a 61-yard score. Jake McNeice connected with Devon Walker for a two-pointer on a fake kick play that made it 36-14.
After Pectal threw a 35-yard TD to make it a 28-point game, Taconic marched 70 yards with the most sustained drive for either team -- a 12-play possession that consumed 5 minutes, 39 seconds and ended in a 6-yard run by Whiteley to get Taconic within three scores, 42-21.
"After the second quarter, they played their tails off," said Taconic coach Jim Ziter, whose team won the second half by a margin of 29-28. "Defensively, we've got a ton to work on, but offensively, I think we did a pretty good job."
Buffoni ran 45 yards for a score on Monument's next possession to get the lead back up to four scores.
Taconic went 70 yards again on its next possession -- this time biting off a 56-yard chunk on a pass from Jeno Teti to Walker. Whiteley scored from the 1 on the first play of the fourth quarter.
But Monument answered again, using a 37-yard kick return by Perry to get the ball to midfield and a 41-yard run by Buffoni to cap a two-play "drive" for the Spartans' last touchdown of the game. Powell ran in the conversion to make it 56-27 with 9:40 left.
Taconic went 62 yards on its final possession. The big play was a fake punt from McNeice to Walker that went for 24 yards on fourth-and-21 to keep the drive alive. Whiteley scored again from the 1, and Teti threw to McNeice for the game's final points.
Taconic goes to Hoosac Valley on Friday night for a 7 p.m. start at Renfrew Field. Monument hosts Connecticut school Housatonic Valley on Saturday.