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Division 7 football: Turnovers, Wahconah too much for Frontier in WMass championship

  • Frontier's Aaron Landry (28) runs for a first down in the second half against Wahconah on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017 in Holyoke. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier's Aaron Landry (28) gets dragged out of bounds by Wahconah's Ethan Scott (4) on a run in the second half on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017 in Holyoke. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier's Stephen Worthley (29) reels in a pass for a touchdown in the second half against Wahconah on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017 in Holyoke. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier quarterback Matthew Hildreth (7) throws under pressure from Wahconah's Damien Kopetchny (60) in the second half on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017 in Holyoke. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier's Aaron Landry (28) runs to the outside in the second half against Wahconah on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017 in Holyoke. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Frontier's Bryce Dobosz (24) gets upended by Wahconah's Gabe Verdi (2) in the first half on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017 in Holyoke. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE



@kylegrbwsk
Saturday, November 11, 2017

HOLYOKE — Frontier Regional fumbled the first time it touched the football in Saturday’s Western Massachusetts Division 7 championship game.

“It was a bad omen,” Frontier coach Don Gordon said.

Bryce Dobosz returned the opening kickoff to Wahconah’s 31-yard line before Warriors kicker Patrick Butler stripped the ball. Wahconah recovered and pounded down the field before quarterback Tim Clayton burrowed in for a 1-yard touchdown with 6 minutes, 47 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Warriors continued scoring on every offensive possession except their last, when they kneeled three times to finish a 45-20 victory. Wahconah won its second straight sectional title and will face Blackstone Valley Tech in the state semifinals.

Frontier (8-2) answered Wahconah’s first touchdown with a 10-play drive. Steve Worthley scampered 33 yards down the left sideline to tie the game at 7 with 2:32 to go in the first quarter.

“The blocks were there,” Worthley said. “They didn’t tackle me, so I just kept going.”

Special teams bit Frontier on the kickoff. The Warriors returned the ball to Frontier’s 31, then after a false start penalty Clayton found Tom Burris for 36 yards and a 14-7 lead Wahconah wouldn’t relinquish with 2:14 left in the first quarter.

“If we’d stayed a little sharper in the kicking game we’d have been OK,” Gordon said.

Frontier ran 11 plays on its next drive before Worthley fumbled at the Wahconah 22. The referees conferred and determined he was tackled onto another player and wasn’t down when the ball came out.

“We made mistakes that we can’t do,” Worthley said.

Wahconah went up 21-7 10 plays later when Clayton found Dane Campbell 37 yards down the left sideline after a play-action fake.

Down two scores, the Red Hawks maneuvered the ball into Wahconah territory again on their next drive. They turned the ball over on downs, and the Warriors went for the knockout.

Clayton uncorked a 67-yard heave to Burris down the right sideline with 1:11 to halftime.

“They put all their men in the box,” Wahconah coach Gary Campbell said. “I think it broke them a little bit.”

Frontier turned the ball over on its next possession trying trickery to surprise Wahconah and get back into the game. Worthley threw an interception on a halfback pass to Augie Roughley after releasing the ball off his back foot with pressure in his face.

Wahconah tacked on a field goal with 1 second remaining in the first half when Butler connected from 43 yards out.

The Warriors deferred to start the game after winning the coin toss, so they received the ball to open the second half. Clayton capped a 10-play drive with a 7-yard fade to Burris for a 38-7 lead with 6:14 left in the quarter. Burris finished with six catches for 156 yards and three touchdowns.

Frontier stopped a 31-point run by Wahconah when it answered that touchdown. Matt Hildreth capped a 12-play drive with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Worthley. He took a hit releasing the ball but found Worthley in the end zone to cut the deficit to 38-13 with 2:05 remaining in the third quarter. Worthley accounted for 143 total yards and two touchdowns in the game.

“We didn’t give up,” Worthley said. “I’m proud of these guys for that.”

Wahconah ran the ball the rest of the game save for one incompletion by Clayton, his first, on its next drive. Clayton went 10 of 11 for 203 yards and four touchdowns. Tanner Hastings finished that drive with a 1-yard touchdown run with 7:38 left.

The Red Hawks delivered one last blow when they got the ball back. Aaron Landry burst up the left sideline from 18 yards out to make it 45-20 with 5:08 left.

Wahconah ran the clock out after that.

It was the final game for Frontier’s seven seniors: Coleman Price, Bryce Dobosz, Landry, Worthley, Joe Hildreth, Brandon Trueswell and Matthew Carlson. They reached the sectional title game after three straight losses in the Western Mass. semifinals.

“It’s another milestone,” Gordon said.

Frontier will end the season Nov. 22 against Mohawk at 6:30 p.m. in South Deerfield when the teams meet for their annual game the night before Thanksgiving.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com.

Wahconah 45, Frontier Regional 20

Frontier Regional

7

0

6

7

—20

Wahconah

14

17

7

7

—45

First quarter

W-Tim Clayton 1 run (Patrick Butler kick), 6:47.

F-Steven Worthley 33 run (Matt Hildreth kick), 2:32.

W-Tom Burris 36 pass from Clayton (Butler kick), 2:14.

Second quarter

W-Dane Campbell 37 pass from Clayton (Butler kick), 5:10.

W-Burris 67 pass from Clayton (Butler kick), 1:11.

W-Butler 43-yard field goal, :01.

Third quarter

W-Burris 7 pass from Clayton (Butler kick), 6:14.

F-Worthley 22 pass from Hildreth (Hildreth kick), 2:05.

Fourth quarter

W-Tanner Hastings 1 run (Butler kick), 7:38.

F-Aaron Landry 18 run (Hildreth kick), 5:08.

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING—Wahconah: Hastings 21-86, Campbell 3-41, Clayton 5-32, Nate Zink 8-29. Frontier: Worthley 20-121, Aaron Landry 8-50, Bryce Dobosz 8-27, Hildreth 3-18, Corbin Blight 1-4.

PASSING—Wahconah: Clayton 10-11-203-0. Frontier: Hildreth 4-10-53-0, Worthley 0-1-0-1.

RECEIVING—Wahconah: Burris 6-156, Campbell 2-48, Tanner Hill 1-12, Bob Archambault 1-4. Frontier: Worthley 1-22, Landry 2-20, Dobosz 1-11 .