Mashpee Comes Back to Top Wahconah in State Final
But when you get to see that call replayed several times on a Jumbotron before you run your next play, it can be a distraction -- a giant, bigger than life distraction.
Such was the lot of the Wahconah football team on Saturday afternoon in a critical juncture of its 34-13 loss to Mashpee in the Division 4 State Championship Game at Gillette Stadium.
The Western Mass champions were up, 13-12, and had the momentum after taking the lead midway through the third quarter. It looked like things were really starting to go Wahconah's way when Sam Henderson appeared to make a shoestring interception near midfield on Mashpee's ensuing possession.
But the officials ruled the pass incomplete, much to the dismay of the Wahconah faithful. That dismay grew as the play was reshown on the big screen.
The Falcons cashed in on the apparent break with a 26-yard pass play two plays later en route to a go-ahead touchdown with 23 seconds left in the third.
"I think any kid and any person says, 'See? Look!' " Wahconah coach Gary Campbell said of his team's reaction to seeing the disputed call replayed. "There's no doubt. So the replay adds to the emotion of the game and the emotion of the kids.
"But it still doesn't reverse the call."
Nor did another replay moments later.
After falling behind, 20-13, at the end of the third, Wahconah drove from its 26 to the Falcons' 23. And after Mashpee registered a sack to push Wahconah back to the 33, Will Genaway delivered the ball down the middle toward Connor Washburn, who was hauled down at the goal line before he had a chance to make a play on the ball.
The official immediately ruled that the ball was not catchable, and one play later, Wahconah was forced to surrender the ball on downs.
Mashpee went 67 yards in five plays -- the last 36 on a Devaun Ford run -- and the Falcons had a 28-13 lead with 6:22 left to play.
Genaway, who threw for 165 yards and ran for 57 yards and both Wahconah touchdowns, said that the calls that went against his team were a distraction, but, like his coach, he was not making excuses.
"I think it does [get in your head], but you've got to learn to just drop it and get over it," Genaway said. "It's not going to change. You can't say that we lost because of that. It's a total team effort. The refs don't decide the game. We've learned to just move on and keep our heads held high."
Right from the start, it was apparent that this game was going to be unlike the 43-0 loss to Holliston that Wahconah suffered in the 2014 state title game.
This time, Wahconah's defense bottled up Mashpee most of the first half.
The Falcons get a pair of Ford TDs before the break. He ran one in from the 15 midway through the first quarter to give Mashpee a 6-0 lead, and he made a diving catch in the end zone to give the Falcons a 12-7 lead going into the locker room.
Ford finished with a game-high 120 yards on the ground and 33 receiving yards.
Wahconah answered his first TD with a 47-yard Genaway run on a zone read play that he took to the right side. Patrick Butler's PAT gave Wahconah a 7-6 lead midway through the second quarter.
Wahconah went 63 yards to take a 13-12 lead on its first possession of the third quarter. Genaway went 3-for-4 on the drive, including a deep ball to Washburn down the middle for 43 yards. Genaway capped the drive with a 9-yard run.
"Genaway is tough," Campbell said. "He plays hard. He's a good, good quarterback. He set up that first touchdown with a simple zone read. They collapsed hard in the middle, and he took it out wide. He made some nice passes.
"He's a heck of a quarterback and a nice kid. Three-sport athlete, National Honor Society. He's a great kid, and he made nice plays for us today."
Genaway is one of 15 seniors in a program that on Saturday became the first Western Mass team to make two appearances at Gillette since the current state tournament format was instituted in 2013.
"What I'm most proud about with this senior group is the character and how they carried themselves," Campbell said. "Through winning and some difficulties and not winning on a stage like this, they still carried themselves with great character. I'm so proud of them and their families. It shows what kind of character they have.
"They're legacy is winning, yes, but for me, I will tell you their legacy is of pride and carrying themselves with great character. I'm really proud of these boys."