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Smith Voke runs out of time in 26-20 loss to Mohawk



For the Gazette
Saturday, September 23, 2017

BUCKLAND — That was close.

Mohawk Trail hung on during a frantic final drive by Smith Vocational and earned a 26-20 Tri-County League football victory Friday night at Pollard Field.

The Warriors’ Jordan Grenier executed a quick-kick on fourth down to pin the Vikings at their own 1. But Vikings quarterback Jake Erali came out slinging, completing passes of 14, 18 and 12 yards. After an 8-yard run by Erali stopped the clock with 8 seconds left, he fired a pass to Troy Benedict on a crossing pattern. But Benedict was tackled at the Mohawk 13 as time expired.

“(It was a) great game by both teams,” Mohawk head coach Doug McCloud said. “They played their butts off, and we played our butts off. That’s a good team. They’re not like they used to be. They’ve come a long way, and we were lucky to win this one.”

The first half featured five scores and no punts.

The Warriors (2-1, 2-0) took the opening kickoff and needed five plays to cover 62 yards for the opening score. Cam Lococo, who took the handoff on four of those plays, took a counter 43 yards on fourth-and-1 and outran the secondary for the touchdown. Ryan Walker’s 2-point conversion pass fell incomplete, but Mohawk led 6-0.

The Vikings (1-2, 0-1) used a passing-oriented stack to knit the score at 6. Erali completed 4 of 5 passes on the six-play, 65-yard drive. He started it with a 35 yarder to Parker Affhauser, then finished it off with a 6-yard scoring strike to Affhauser. The point-after kick fell short.

Smith Voke tried an onside kick, but Jonathan Schuetze scooped up the ball at the 45 and sprinted by everybody to the end zone to put Mohawk back up, 12-6. Walker had another 2-point pass fall incomplete.

After a pair of four-and-out possessions, the Vikings tied it again by marching 70 yards on just six running plays, and Benedict capped it off by scoring on a 34-yard reverse. Mohawk stuffed the 2-point run to keep it tied.

Mohawk drove from its own 21 to the Smith Voke 17 before turning it over on downs, but Grenier picked off Erali to set up the Warriors at the Viking 20. Four plays later, Grenier scored untouched on a counter to give Mohawk an 18-12 lead heading into the break.

After a scoreless third quarter, Mohawk finished a 10-play, 85-yard drive for a critical insurance score. Walker took it in from 2 yards away for the TD, and Grenier punched in the conversion for a 26-12 advantage with 8 minutes to go.

The Vikings responded with another long scoring drive, this one 77 yards, to close the gap to 26-20. Erali called his own number on the final three plays, the last a 1-yard keeper, and Benedict caught Erali’s subsequent 2-point pass.

After a rare touchback, Mohawk moved from the 20 to the Smith Voke 45 before the drive stalled, setting up the frantic finish.

Grenier finished with a team-high 122 yards on 14 carries, while Lococo rushed 12 times for 100 yards in the first half before leaving with an injury.

Erali finished 11-for-23 passing for 193 yards with a touchdown and two interception. He also rushed for 101 yards on 17 carries.