CHESHIRE, Mass. — “There was no way we were going to lose this game tonight,” said senior captain Jameson Coughlan. “This week of practice was brutal but we all wanted it so bad.”
It showed on the field Thursday night as the Hoosac Valley Hurricanes avenged last season’s Western Mass D5 championship loss in dominant fashion by defeating the visiting Pittsfield High Generals, 42-14, at Renfrew Field in Adams.
With emotions high heading into the game, Coughlan said being part of a family was the key to staying focused.
“Football is the greatest sport in the world just because you are a part of a family. Everyone’s got each other’s backs. Everyone’s pulling each other away from the pile,” said Coughlan. “It just comes from being strong. Being strong in practice and coming together.”
“I thought we started off well and that it helped them gain their focus,” added Hoosac coach Dayne Piorot. “This is a pretty focused group. These kids are very set on knowing what they need to do and doing it. Keeping in tune with each other and knowing that they’re the guys out on the field and they keep each other focused and in check.”
On the Hurricanes’ first drive, they picked up a fourth and inches on the PHS 43-yard line before senior Avery Hall ripped off a 28-yard run followed by an 11-yard rush and 3-yard plunge for the first touchdown of the game. Sophomore Donald Monsees ran in for the two-point conversion, and Hoosac had an early 8-0 lead.
The Generals picked up two first downs on their first possession before turning it over on downs on the Hoosac 31-yard line. Hall went back to work for the Canes with runs of 7 and 13 yards. A 16-yard catch by Hall set up Hoosac on the PHS 35 and one play later senior quarterback Matt Koperniak broke off a 37-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion failed but the Hurricanes led, 14-0, with 38 seconds before the second quarter.
This time Pittsfield answered with the help of a penalty on Hoosac for a late hit that moved the Generals up to the Hurricane 32-yard line. After another PHS first down, the Generals were faced with fourth down and 12. Senior quarterback Kolbe Muzzy hooked up with junior wideout Terrick Boire for a 21-yard touchdown. Boire made an impressive grab in the back right corner of the end zone by going up over the defender to grab the ball while still keeping his feet in bounds. Senior Mason Papirio ran in the two-point conversion and the Generals trailed Hoosac by just six, 14-8.
The Hurricanes got right back to business on the next drive after a PHS penalty for a late hit moved Hoosac all the way from midfield up to the General 26. Three plays later Hall made a pretty cutback and dashed 14 yards for his second touchdown of the game. The two-pointer was no good, and the score was 20-8.
With just less than five minutes to play before halftime, PHS had a chance to put some points up. Their drive again stalled, though, after two first downs, including one from a 35-yard run senior Sam Sala that moved the Generals from their own 33 to the Canes 32. Hoosac got the ball back with a 1:56 until the break.
After three plays that resulted in just 9 yards, the Hurricanes were set to punt on fourth down rather than take a chance right before half-time. PHS gave Hoosac a gift though, jumping offsides on fourth down to set up the Hurricanes with first down. Two plays by the Canes got the ball to midfield but with only 11.7 seconds remaining it seemed wise to just run the ball and head to the locker room.
That’s when Hall exploded through a monster hole in the middle of the line and outraced everyone to the end zone as time expired to really steal the momentum in the game. The two-point conversion was no good but Hoosac was up 26-8.
Things got worse for PHS when it fumbled on the fourth play of the second half with the Hurricanes recovering. Their next possession ended with a punt after just three plays and before you knew it Hall was off again, this time from 45 yards to make it four touchdowns on the night. Hall finished the game with 192 rushing yards on 15 carries for an impressive 12.8 yards per carry average.
“Our line,” said Hall when asked about the key to his success on the ground. “Our line was making big holes. Credit to those guys. They scored all the touchdowns tonight.”
The Generals got another touchdown on their next drive, another passing play but this time it was a quick strike from Muzzy to Papirio who took it the rest of the way for a 42-yard touchdown. On the two-point conversion, Papirio ran the ball off the left side, and as he was about to be tackled, he pitched the ball towards a teammate on his left but Hoosac’s Koperniak was ready and intercepted the lateral, taking it 98 yards the other way to put two more points on the board for the Canes.
Hoosac Valley moves to 3-0 as they prepare to face Mount Greylock next Friday night in Williamstown. Pittsfield gets its first loss as it goes to 2-1. The Generals travel back up north again to face Drury next Saturday.