Wahconah Keeps Generals at Bay

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Sports
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The Warriors held back a furious assault by the Generals on Friday night to hold their home field, 40-36.
DALTON, Mass. — When Wahconah football coach Gary Campbell dialed up an onside kick with his team up 24-8 in the second quarter, it may have looked a little greedy.

When the game was over, the move looked downright prescient.

Wahconah scored a touchdown after recovering the kick on its way to a 40-8 half-time lead and then held off a furious Pittsfield comeback for a 40-36 win on Friday night.

Game of the Week

"The thinking behind the onside kick was twofold," Campbell said. "First of all, maybe we could put the game out of reach because we did have some momentum at that point. Number two, we've been struggling on our kickoff coverage, so this took that out of the equation.

"As it turned out, we needed the points."

Wahconah (2-0) generated plenty of first-half points, thanks largely to senior quarterback Lane Grogan, who threw for 173 yards and three touchdowns, ran for a score and returned an interception for 60 yards for Wahconah's fifth score of the night.

But in the second half, it was all Pittsfield (0-2).

The Generals rushed for 239 yards after half-time while holding their hosts to just one second-half first down.

Pittsfield even finished the game with the ball and a desperation try for a miracle comeback. After Matt Salvatore's 1-yard run and Tyler Cataldi's 2-point conversion made it a four-point game with 3.7 seconds left, Salvatore recovered a Pittsfield onside kick at midfield.

But Wahconah's Darrow Brown knocked down an Aaron Houghtaling pass down the right sideline on the last play of the game to preserve the win.

"We're playing a ton of young guys," Pittsfield coach Brian Jezewski said. "Wahconah's a great football team, a great football program. ... Coach Campbell has done a great job with them.

"We're playing freshmen and sophomores all over the field. We've got four seniors who are getting legitimate time. I'm proud of my guys."

Pittsfield's Devon Tucker ran for 125 yards and a touchdown, and quarterback Chad Shade rushed for 90 yards, including a 53-yard scamper for Pittsfield's only score of the first half.

For the second straight week, Pittsfield played a strong second half against a favored opponent but could not overcome a big first-half hole. In the opener, it was Mount Greylock leading 28-0 at the half of a 36-8 win; on Friday, it was Wahconah's turn to exploit some miscues by the young Generals.

"We made five mistakes in the defensive secondary," Jezewski said. "Unfortunately, it was the same five mistakes that we made last week. That's something that's going to be corrected this upcoming week.

"I'm proud of my guys. We continue to fight."

Campbell had plenty to be proud of in the first half, particularly the play of Grogan and Brown, who caught six balls for 146 yards and three TDs.

"[Grogan] did a nice job throwing the ball tonight," Campbell said. "And he had time to throw the ball, thanks to his offensive line. That was a key. Whenever you have time to throw the ball and you throw the ball well, you going to do good, and Lane did a heck of a job throwing the ball.

"Darrow [Brown] really went after the ball in the air. I'm really proud of him and how he played tonight. He played very aggressive in the air, which was great."

Wahconah drew first blood with a 29-yard hookup from Grogan to Brown late in the first quarter, but Pittsfield struck back when Shade went up the middle and broke to the right side for the 53-yard score; Tucker's 2-pointer tied the game at 8-8.

Wahconah broke the game open with a 32-point second quarter.

It started with a 36-yard scoring strike from Grogan to Brown deep down the left side, and Grogan scored from 4 yards out to cap a 58-yard drive the next time Wahconah touched the ball.

That score led to the onside kick, which Wahconah recovered at its 47. Nine plays later, it was in the end zone when Grogan hit Brown for a 9-yarder on fourth-and-goal. Joe Dimassimo caught the 2-point conversion to push the lead to 32-8 with 1:15 left on the clock.

After a 14-yard run by Kyle Shade got Pittsfield to midfield with about 40 seconds left, Jezewski opened up the playbook with a couple of passes. But on Chad Shade's third throw of the game, Grogan caught a tipped ball on his own 40 and went all the way for the TD that made it 40-8 at the break.
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