PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Cedric Rose ran for 138 yards and the Taconic football team dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage Saturday as it kept its Western Mass playoff hopes alive with a 44-22 win over Springfield Commerce at Wahconah Park.
Taconic scored the game’s first 16 points and then pulled away after Commerce closed to within two points at 16-14 late in the second quarter.
Rose was just one weapon for a potent Taconic ground attack that got 84 yards from Nikos Gian, 51 yards from Jaydan Cross, 44 yards and a pair of touchdowns from Hunter Johnston and 29 yards from 29 yards from Marquiese Sanders.
“We’ve got a lot of backs,” Taconic coach Jim Ziter said. “I think we rotated in five or six backs. If we can keep doing that, we’ll be all right the rest of the year, as long as our offensive line keeps producing the way it did.”
For Ziter, line play was the key on Saturday.
“We challenged them all week,” he said. “We challenged our backs and we challenged our offensive line to get better. And they did a great job for us today.”
Rose set the tone on the opening possession.
After a 42-yard return of the opening kickoff by Dylan Burke, Rose needed just two runs -- of 16 and 28 yards -- to get the ball in the end zone. Gian ran in the 2-pointer to give Taconic an 8-0 lead less than a minute into the game.
After a Jalen Hill interception, Taconic needed to go just 27 yards for a score the next time it touched the ball. This time, Johnston did the honors, going in from the 3.
Commerce (0-5) scored on its third possession, and first of the second quarter, when Semaj Hunter hooked up with Nathaniel Mendez for a 63-yard touchdown pass deep down the right side.
On its next possession, Commerce got a 92-yard pass from Hunter to Kenneth Ortiz to make it a two-point game.
But Taconic answered with a 62-yard drive that consumed the last 3 minutes, 10 seconds of the half and ended when Sal Amaral hit Javier Osorio for a 7-yard touchdown to complete his only pass attempt of the afternoon. The point-after failed, but Taconic went to the locker room ahead, 22-16.
It scored on its first two possessions of the second half to extend that lead.
First, Sanders scored from the 5, and then, after a fumble recovery on Commerce’ next possession, Johnston capped a 30-yard drive with a 6-yard run and the 2-pointer to make it 36-14.
Commerce had one more big play in it, though. This time, it was Kwamie Lowe going 62 yards midway through the fourth quarter.
Taconic responded with a 58-yard drive to eat up 4:51 off the clock and produce points when Gian scored from the 4 with 26 seconds left.
Taconic (2-4) snapped a four-game losing streak and kept its post-season hopes alive going into its final road game of the regular season, on Friday at South Hadley. Taconic will finish the season on Oct. 27 back at Wahconah Park against city rival Pittsfield.
A year removed from a Western Mass title fueled by a bumper crop of talented seniors, this year’s Taconic squad may just be jelling at the right time.
“I’m happy with where we are now,” Ziter said. “Now, we’ve got to win out. It’s do-or-die for us every week. … Hopefully, we go to South Hadley and take care of business.
“They know it’s a lot better to be practicing for Western Mass than just practicing for consolation games. We want to practice for the Western Mass tournament.”