Peaslee's Field Goal, Whiteley's Running Key Taconic Victory
PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Running plays, passing plays, a returned onside kick, a returned failed two-point conversion -- it seemed on Saturday night that the Taconic football team could put the ball in the end zone any way it wanted.
But it was a play that put the ball through the uprights that may have been the biggest in a 48-12 win over Chicopee at Wahconah Park.
With 45 seconds left in the second quarter, the Pacers (2-2) returned a tipped interception 35 yards for a touchdown that trimmed Taconic’s lead to 21-6.
After a 30-yard Devon Walker kickoff return brought the ball to midfield, Taconic needed just three plays to set up second and 6 at the Chicopee 23 with 6 seconds on the clock.
Taconic coach Jim Ziter did not hesitate to send Brandon Peaslee on to try a 40-yard field goal.
Peaslee drilled the ball down the middle with distance to spare, and Taconic never looked back.
“We’ve been trying to get a field goal in the last three games,” Ziter said. “That’s what we want to add to our offense. He’s a great weapon to have. So we decided toward the end of the half that we wanted to at least get three points and get back some of the six that we gave them.
“They had some momentum, and they were getting the ball back to start the second half. So we wanted to get some momentum.”
Taconic (3-1) had the momentum early, scoring the game’s first three touchdowns on three runs by Anthony Whiteley (111 yards). He went in from 2 yards, 5 yards and 11 yards on consecutive possessions to help build the 21-0 lead.
After intermission, Taconic’s defense stopped Chicopee on two possessions in a scoreless third quarter.
The quarter ended, however, with the home team on the move, after Taconic benefitted from a short Pacers’ punt deep in their end. Ziter’s team used the short field to its advantage, driving to the Chicopee 7 on the last play of the quarter when Jake McNeice (10-for-12 for 131 yards) connected with Walker for 14 yards.
McNeice started the fourth by hitting Jack Cooney for a TD to make it 31-6.
Taconic’s next possession ended in a 6-yard McNeice TD to push the lead to 38-6 with 6:14 left to play.
Then things got weird.
First, Chicopee’s Isaiah Jackson (157 yards) scored on fourth-and-2. The Pacers opted to try for two points, but the ball was fumbled in the backfield, and Taconic’s Nick Mancivalo scooped it up and rumbled all the way back for a Taconic two-pointer that made it 40-12.
Then Chicopee attempted an onside kick, but Peaslee, instead of falling on the ball, picked it up and ran it back 45 yards for the final score of the game with 3:50 left.
Taconic goes on the road next Saturday to play Hoosac Valley -- its longest remaining road trip after starting the year with three straight in Sandwich, Belchertown and Lynn, to play St. Mary’s.
Ziter challenged his senior-laden squad with a rugged early schedule, and he liked what he saw.
“They responded great,” Ziter said. “We ended up the road trip 2-1. I can’t ask for anything better. And how they handled traveling that far two out of the three weeks -- and even going to Belchertown -- they did a great job. They all responded well.
“It’s good to be home now. The farthest we’ve got to travel is Hoosac, so we’re excited about that.”