WESTFIELD, Mass. -- Midway through the fourth quarter of Saturday’s state semi-final Division 5 football game, Pittsfield senior quarterback Chad Shade fielded a low snap in the shotgun formation, rolled to his right, reversed field and went left, cut back to the right, went all the way outside the numbers and down the right sideline and finally was hauled down by four defenders after a 24-yard gain.
It was the kind of play that Pittsfield football fans have come to expect from Shade.
Unfortunately for the Generals, it also was the last such play of a stellar career.
Pittsfield’s run in the postseason came to end on Westfield State University’s Alumni Field in a 58-35 loss to Northbridge.
Afterward, Shade spoke for a senior-dominated PHS squad that saw years of commitment inside the weight room and on the practice field culminate in a long-sought Western Massachusetts championship.
“Obviously, it didn’t turn out the way we wanted, but our guys fought,” Shade said. “We had a great year. I’m proud of every single guy on this team.
“We just went out in the second half trying to fight and end on a good note. And I’m proud we came out and we gave a good fight and played with a lot of heart.
Although the Generals were able to close the gap with a 20-17 second half, the outcome was never really in doubt after the Central Mass champion Rams scored on their first six possessions to take a 41-15 lead into the locker room.
Northbridge went on to score on nine of its first 10 possessions -- the lone exception was a seven play, 43-yard drive that ended when the clock ran out at the end of the second quarter.
Koby Schofer ran for 175 yards and threw for 239 to lead Northbridge (11-0) into the Dec. 6 state championship game in Foxborough against Abington, a 29-14 winner over Bishop Fenwick in the North-South state semi-final on Saturday
“We knew going in that [Northbridge coach Ken LaChapelle] has a million wins for a reason,” Pittsfield coach Brian Jezewski said, referring to LaChapelle’s state-record 327 career victories.
“It’s about Pittsfield High, and I’ve said since Day One. I’m really proud of my guys. To get the point that we got to -- one of the top four teams in the state for our division -- I’m really, really impressed with the leadership of Chad and our seniors. We could have easily laid down, and we fought to the end.”
At the beginning, it was rough.
Northbridge scored on drives of 87, 59 and 50 yards to jump out to a 21-0 lead before Shade crossed the goalline on a 14-yard to get on the board.
Northbridge responded with a 62-yard run by Schofer on its next play from scrimmage, an onside kick and a two-play, two-pass drive that went 41 yards to make it 34-8 midway through the second quarter.
Shade then sprinted 58 yards on a scramble to get Pittsfield its second touchdown before Northbridge added 17 more -- the last three on a 26-yard field goal midway through the third, to make it 51-15.
From there, the Generals (9-3) cashed in on their final three possessions, outscoring the Rams 20-7 down the stretch. Shade scored on a 33-yard run, Sala went in from the 15 after Sahde’s 24-yard scramble, and a 36-yard pass from Shade to Evan Bossio led to a 5-yard score by Devon Tucker (80 yards).
“Our guys aren’t going to quit,” Jezewski said. “We talked about this at half-time. I really tried to send the message to our guys: Don’t make this the biggest moment of your life. Make it a big moment in your life. But be proud of everything you do, but don’t make this the biggest moment of your life.
“There are going to be a million big moments. Don’t stop when you’re 17-, 18-years-old.”