PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Wedged between an emotional win over previously unbeaten Wahconah and next week’s showdown with city rival Pittsfield and waged on a cold, rainy Saturday afternoon when no one really wanted to be outside, Saturday’s meeting with South Hadley had all the makings of a “trap game” for the Taconic football team.
But this senior-laden team was not about to allow a Senior Day slip-up, and Taconic scored the first three times it touched the ball en route to a 50-30 win over the Tigers.
“I’m always concerned [about a letdown], but that’s just me,” Taconic coach Jim Ziter said. “We had a good week of practice, and they came out and played a good game in this weather … It’s Senior Week, it’s Homecoming Week … There’s a lot of distractions. And they did a great job as a whole group getting ready.”
Taconic (6-1) set the tone early when it took the opening kickoff and went 64 yards for the game’s first score.
Jake Galliher scored on a 27-yard run, and Jake McNeice hit Devon Walker to make it 8-0 with less than a minute off the clock.
South Hadley (4-3) answered with a 65-yard run by Sean O’Grady and a two-pointer to tie it with 8 minutes, 47 seconds left in the first quarter.
Taconic then scored the next 29 points to take a 37-8 lead into half-time.
Its second drive went 59 yards. Zach Gage had a game-breaking 40-yard run to get his team into the red zone, and Galliher finished with a 10-yard scamper for his second TD.
McNeice returned an interception 60 yards for a score on South Hadley’s next possession.
Then, after the teams traded punts, Taconic went 58 yards for its fourth score, a 4-yard run by Cedrick Rose. Brandon Peaslee’s point-after made the score 30-8.
“Our line has been working its butts off all season,” Ziter said. “They improve every week. They did a great job. We threw a little bit today, but we tried to keep it on the ground. We knew it was going to be tough to throw.”
With time running out at the end of the first half, McNeice did to the air, and he found Walker in the end zone for a 20-yard scoring strike that gave Taconic a 29-point half-time cushion.
South Hadley returned the opening kickoff of the second half 90 yards to get within three scores, but Gage answered with his second big run of the day -- this time going 50 yards to push the lead to 44-16.
Later in the half, Peaslee’s 35-yard run got the ball to the 12, and a few plays later, he went in from the 1 to give Taconic its biggest lead, 50-16.
South Hadley finishes the regular season Friday night against Chicopee, when Taconic will meet Pittsfield at Wahconah Park.