Wahconah Football Grinds Out Bounceback Win

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
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DALTON, Mass. – Not much came easily for the Wahconah football team on Friday night.
But when it needed the difficult yards, it was up to the challenge in an 18-13 win over Agawam.
Noah Poirier ran for 53 yards, including a fourth-quarter touchdown and a crucial late fourth-down pickup as Wahconah bounced back from its first loss of the season and improved to 4-1 this fall.
“It all starts with the boys up front,” Wahconah senior Owen Salvatore said. “Without them, we don’t go anywhere. And Lucas [Pickard] and Noah ran really well tonight. They ran really hard. And that was a key factor to us getting this ‘W.’ “
Wahconah coach Gary Campbell Jr. concurred.
“He’s just a tough animal,” Campbell said of Poirier. “That kid – football, wrestling, lacrosse – he’s a tough animal. He runs angry, and he’s phenomenal running the football.”
Wahconah’s first possession sputtered at midfield after Jayden Speth’s 28-yard return on the opening kickoff, but the next time Wahconah touched the ball, it got in the end zone.
A 9-yard run by Salvatore on fourth-and-3 helped set up a 29-yard pass from Pickard to Salvatore up the left side to make it 6-0.
That is where it stayed until midway through the second, when Ethan Orsini kicked a 30-yard field goal to stretch the lead to 9-0.
Wahconah threatened to stretch that lead before half-time, but Agawam made an interception in its own end zone with 38 seconds left to keep it a two-score game at the break
Orsini was able to stretch the lead midway through the fourth, knocking through a 32-yarder to make it 12-0.
“We did blow some opportunities here or there, because I thought we moved the ball well,” Campbell said. “But I thought our kicker came through with some key field goals … to keep momentum and feel good about what we were doing – on a windy night.”
That two-touchdown lead looked safe when Agawam stared down a fourth-and-6 at midfield with less than two minutes left in the third.
But the visitors used an option play to hit a 56-yard pass down the right side and get on the scoreboard at 12-7 heading to the fourth quarter.
Wahconah then marched 70 yards on its next possession, chewing up more than seven minutes of the clock on 14 plays, ending it with Poirier’s 3-yard run to make it 18-7 with 6:19 left to play.
Agawam, helped along by a late-hit penalty against Wahconah’s defense, answered with a 70-yard drive of its own, consuming just two minutes to make it 18-13 with 4:19 to play.
After Landon Corcoran recovered the onside kick at midfield for Wahconah, the hosts could manage just one first down. But it was the biggest first down of the game.
After forcing Agawam to burn its timeouts on defense, Poirier converted a fourth-and-3 attempt with an 8-yard run to the 35 with less than three minutes to play.
Wahconah drove to the Agawam 28 before losing the ball on downs with 52 seconds on the clock, and the visitors’ desperation plays went nowhere, ending in a Braedyn Melle interception to ice the game.
The victory helped erase the memory of a tough outing the last time out for Wahconah.
“This is a big classroom,” Campbell said of the football field. “How do you respond to adversity? How do you respond to not doing well and huge disappointments? These guys were absolutely disappointed and devastated last week. How do you respond to that? It’s something you can carry on beyond football.
“That’s why we’re here. We’re not here to develop pro athletes or anything like that. We’re here to teach kids. And what they learned this week was if you keep fighting, if you keep working, if you keep on coming back to improve, you can continue to have success. I think that was a big deal tonight.”
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