LEE, Mass. — A very rainy afternoon in Berkshire County gave way to a gorgeous 60 degree night for football between the Lee Wildcats and the visiting Pittsfield Generals. But unlike the weather, the first half of football was not pretty at all as both teams could not sustain any drives or score any points due to a plethora of penalties and turnovers.
"Penalties killed us," said Lee head coach Keith Thompson. "We had a touchdown taken off the board there in the first half. We had another deep drive down here and a penalty wiped that out."
On the Wildcats' first possession of the game they took the ball 40 yards down to the Pittsfield 12-yard line and sophomore quarterback Cam Abderhalden, who is filling in for senior Deaglan Giarolo who just had surgery for a broken hand, threw a screen pass to senior running back Matty Kelley who took it down the right sideline for a touchdown. But the play was called back due to holding and two plays later Lee turned the ball over after missing a 40-yard field goal.
Lee punted on their next possesion and threw an interception on their following chance with the ball. On their fourth possesion of the game they drove the ball from their own 31-yard line all the way down to Pittsfield 22, sucking up over six minutes of the clock in the second quarter. Then With a minute left in the half, the Wildcats were called for another holding penalty that pushed them back 10 yards, ultimately stalling their drive.
Pittsfield had just as much trouble in the first half as they were forced to punt on their first two possesions, lost fumbles on their next two, and threw an interception on their last oppurtunity with the ball late in the second quarter.
"We haven't turned the ball over this much this season," Pittsfield head coach Brian Jezewski said. "You know when they are getting pressure on our guys and we are a motion offense and we do some things and they pressured us. It comes down to the lines on both sides of the ball. Their line outplayed our line and we got beat up front. It's that simple."
"Our d-line was unbelievable tonight. [Calvin] Shade is a darn good quarterback and when he dropped back he didn't have any time tonight," coach Thompson said. "I thought our d-line, we have athletic guys up there. I thought they did a fantastic job in not giving him time to hit those fast receivers. So great job by them."
In a game littered with penalties and turnovers, the team that can sustain that one drive to put points on the board usually puts themself in a great position to win and that is exactly what happened for Lee when they came out of halftime. The Wildcats got the ball first and put together a 13-play, 68-yard drive that was capped off by a 20-yard touchdown scamper by junior running back Dan Griffin. His touchdown would turn out to be the game winner as the Wildcats held on to beat Pittsfield 6-0.
Griffin made a nice run off the left side and ran into the endzone after barely being touched at all. He credited his offensive lineman for doing a "phenomenal job of giving me a hole to run through." But despite Griffin making a great run to cap off the drive, it was quarterback Abderhalden who kept the drive alive two plays earlier on third and 24 from the General 47-yard line.
Abderhalden scrambled to buy himself some extra time and then hit senior wide out John Graziano who made a nifty move to gain 22 yards up the sideline, giving Lee a managable fourth and two on the Pittsfield 24 which they Matty Kelley converted to set up Griffin from the 20.
"Cam Abderhalden stepped up huge tonight. He played a whale of a football game," said Coach Thompson. "He had command of the offense and the offensive line just asserted themselves."
Abderhalden completed nine of his 19 pass attempts for 79 yards but could have had an even bigger game but he had a few completions negated due to penalties, had some of his passes dropped, and missed a few receivers by less than a yard. "Yea, you know I think that is a timing issue," Coach Thompson said. "He hasn't had a lot of snaps with the first team guys and he's there now and we expect that to get better as we go."
"I can't say enough," added Coach Thompson. "We are strapped for bodies. I think we had 25-26 kids dress tonight. Half of our whole offensive line is fighting through injuries. We lost our starting quarterback last week to a broken hand. That's a darn good football team we played tonight and I can't say enough about our kids."