PITTSFIELD, Mass. – The Taconic football team Thursday saw its season opener slip away 5 yards at a time.
The Thunder was whistled for eight procedural infractions, including two on its first possession of the game in a 50-0 loss to East Longmeadow on Gene Dellea Field at Berkshire Community College.
The Spartans’ Dominic Gamelli ran for 115 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and Shane Becker threw for two scores.
But the tone was set early for Taconic, which racked up 30 yards in 5-yard penalties by the midway point of the second quarter.
Thunder coach Jermaine Sistrunk put the blame squarely on his own shoulders for his team’s performance.
“It starts with the coaches,” Sistrunk said.
“Too many logistical things – not enough guys, not the right guys in the right spots, not knowing where people are supposed to be. That’s a coaching thing. That’s why my coaches aren’t leaving right now. We’ve got to have a long conversation about that.
“We need to coach our guys much better is the bottom line. That’s the only way we’re going to get better.”
It took a while for East Longmeadow to eliminate its own mistakes and pull away in a game it led 14-0 until late in the second quarter.
The Spartans scored the first time they touched the ball after Preston Longo’s 29-yard punt return gave his team first-and-10 at the Taconic 12. The Thunder gave up the first touchdown three plays later but denied East Longmeadow on the 2-point try and trailed 6-0.
Taconic then got its running game going, picking up a couple of first downs to get to midfield.
But on first-and-10 at the plus-46, the Thunder took a 5-yard penalty. And three plays later, Conner Robidoux got the Spartans the ball on an interception.
That led to a 31-yard scoring play from Becker to Isaiah King as the first-quarter clock expired.
A 59-yard scoring drive by the Spartans sent them into half-time up three scores, and a pair of 26-yard runs by Gamelli to open the third quarter quickly made it 28-0.
A 50-yard interception return by King stretched the lead to 34-0, and it was 43-0 heading into the fourth quarter, which was played under running time.
In addition to penalty problems, Taconic also had a setback on the injury front with senior quarterback Matthew McIntosh having to sit down after injuring his finger in the first half.
Damon Pause was pressed into service and did the best he could to extend plays under a Spartan pass rush that seemed to get stronger as the night wore on.
“Damon Pause actually was our backup quarterback until we converted him to a running back,” Sistrunk said. “He hasn’t even taken one snap in this preseason at quarterback, so we definitely put him on the spot.
“Damon’s a warrior 100 percent. He got a little dinged up and went off and came back on. … I can’t thank him enough for stepping in and trying to fill the shoes.”
Taconic (0-1) is back at BCC next Friday when it hosts Hoosac Valley.
The Hurricanes open the year Friday night at Northampton.