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South Hadley falls short in Division 2 Super Bowl

  • South Hadley head coach Eric Scammons comforts his senior defensive back Anthony Bullough after losing in the state finals to Wahconah, 24-21 at Gillette Stadium Saturday.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    South Hadley head coach Eric Scammons comforts his senior defensive back Anthony Bullough after losing in the state finals to Wahconah, 24-21 at Gillette Stadium Saturday.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • South Hadley head coach Eric Scammons, right, comforts senior defensive back Anthony Bullough after their 24-21 loss to Wahconah Regional in the  Western Massachusetts Division 2 Super Bowl Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. JOSH KUCKENS

    South Hadley head coach Eric Scammons, right, comforts senior defensive back Anthony Bullough after their 24-21 loss to Wahconah Regional in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Super Bowl Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Riley Villeneuve of South Hadley celebrates after scoring a touchdown against Wahconah Regional during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Super Bowl Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Wahconah won 24-21. JOSH KUCKENS

    Riley Villeneuve of South Hadley celebrates after scoring a touchdown against Wahconah Regional during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Super Bowl Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Wahconah won 24-21. JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Darrow Brown of Wahconah Regional reels in a touchdown catch against South Hadley during the  Western Massachusetts Division 2 Super Bowl Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Wahconah won 24-21. JOSH KUCKENS

    Darrow Brown of Wahconah Regional reels in a touchdown catch against South Hadley during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Super Bowl Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Wahconah won 24-21. JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Bryan Shippee is congratulated by his South Hadley teammates after a scoring a touchdown against Wahconah Regional during the  Western Massachusetts Division 2 Super Bowl Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Wahconah won 24-21. JOSH KUCKENS

    Bryan Shippee is congratulated by his South Hadley teammates after a scoring a touchdown against Wahconah Regional during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Super Bowl Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Wahconah won 24-21. JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • A pass intended for Jordan Fiske, left, of Wahconah is batted away by  South Hadley defenders during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Super Bowl Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Wahconah won 24-21. JOSH KUCKENS

    A pass intended for Jordan Fiske, left, of Wahconah is batted away by South Hadley defenders during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Super Bowl Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Wahconah won 24-21. JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • The South Hadley Tigers gather in the endzone at Gillette Stadium Saturday before their state final game against Wahconah.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    The South Hadley Tigers gather in the endzone at Gillette Stadium Saturday before their state final game against Wahconah.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • South Hadley exits after losing in the state finals to Wahconah, 24-21 at Gillette Stadium Saturday.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    South Hadley exits after losing in the state finals to Wahconah, 24-21 at Gillette Stadium Saturday.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • South Hadley fans cheer on their team as they take on Wahconah for the state finals Saturday at Gillette Stadium. JOSH KUCKENS

    South Hadley fans cheer on their team as they take on Wahconah for the state finals Saturday at Gillette Stadium. JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • South Hadley's Riley Villeneuve celebrates after finding his way into the endzone during the state finals matchup against Wahconah Saturday at Gillette Stadium.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    South Hadley's Riley Villeneuve celebrates after finding his way into the endzone during the state finals matchup against Wahconah Saturday at Gillette Stadium.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • South Hadley head coach Eric Scammons comforts his senior defensive back Anthony Bullough after losing in the state finals to Wahconah, 24-21 at Gillette Stadium Saturday.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • South Hadley head coach Eric Scammons, right, comforts senior defensive back Anthony Bullough after their 24-21 loss to Wahconah Regional in the  Western Massachusetts Division 2 Super Bowl Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. JOSH KUCKENS
  • Riley Villeneuve of South Hadley celebrates after scoring a touchdown against Wahconah Regional during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Super Bowl Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Wahconah won 24-21. JOSH KUCKENS
  • Darrow Brown of Wahconah Regional reels in a touchdown catch against South Hadley during the  Western Massachusetts Division 2 Super Bowl Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Wahconah won 24-21. JOSH KUCKENS
  • Bryan Shippee is congratulated by his South Hadley teammates after a scoring a touchdown against Wahconah Regional during the  Western Massachusetts Division 2 Super Bowl Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Wahconah won 24-21. JOSH KUCKENS
  • A pass intended for Jordan Fiske, left, of Wahconah is batted away by  South Hadley defenders during the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Super Bowl Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Wahconah won 24-21. JOSH KUCKENS
  • The South Hadley Tigers gather in the endzone at Gillette Stadium Saturday before their state final game against Wahconah.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • South Hadley exits after losing in the state finals to Wahconah, 24-21 at Gillette Stadium Saturday.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • South Hadley fans cheer on their team as they take on Wahconah for the state finals Saturday at Gillette Stadium. JOSH KUCKENS
  • South Hadley's Riley Villeneuve celebrates after finding his way into the endzone during the state finals matchup against Wahconah Saturday at Gillette Stadium.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

FOXBOROUGH — On the biggest stage in New England, the South Hadley football team came up just short Saturday night.

The Tigers fell to Wahconah Regional 24-21 in the Western Massachusetts Division 2 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.

Each team scored three touchdowns — all in the first half — as neither team got a defensive stop before halftime.

“I thought it might be more of a low-scoring, defensive slugfest like it was in the second half,” South Hadley coach Eric Scammons said. “The first half, I guess, was a feeling-out process.

“The teams were unfamiliar with each other and halftime is the time to gather your thoughts and make adjustments,” he added. “The kids are now used to what they’ve seen in the first two quarters. It’s one of those games where somebody has to lose. The game was hard fought and we have to move forward.”

Three times the Tigers took the lead and three times the Warriors answered. The difference came in the conversions, as Wahconah (9-3) converted all three two-point conversion attempts, while South Hadley (9-3) kicked extra points.

The Warriors also benefited from an apparent missed call on their final drive of the second quarter. On first-and-10 from the Tigers’ 42-yard-line, Darrow Brown took a pitch to the right and was wrapped up by Peter Luchini, who appeared to punch the ball out of Brown’s hands and forward. Charles Allard fell on the apparent fumble.

But the play was ruled an incomplete pass on the field, allowing the Wahconah to keep possession.

“We thought we had them with the fumble recovery there, but they ruled that he was trying to pass the ball,” Scammons said.

The Warriors took advantage, as quarterback Lane Grogan (7-for-12, 150 yards, two touchdowns) found Jordan Fiske, who made an over-the-shoulder catch down the middle for a 41-yard gain down to 1-yard-line with one second remaining. Wahconah called time-out.

“What a catch by Fiskey on that one,” Warriors coach Gary Campbell Jr. said. “Unbelievable catch, beautiful throw. When kids make plays like that, you can’t help being proud of them.”

Ethan Wells then went in for what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown as well as the two-point conversion for a 24-21 lead at halftime.

“That did take the wind out of our sails psychologically a little bit, even though we had a half left,” Scammons said. “But we talked at halftime about having to make a stop because our offense was moving the ball and we had scored well in the first half. But they did a good job defensively and we had couple missed opportunities here and there.”

Riley Villeneuve scored on the first two drives for South Hadley and finished the game with 82 yards on 10 carries. Bryan Shippee scored the third Tigers’ touchdown and ended the game with 43 yards on nine carries.

“We don’t have one go-to guy,” Scammons said. “We were looking at their front and they were giving us some inside runs. Riley did a great job with the help of the blocking up front opening some big holes for him. Certainly, I was happy for him, but it’s a team effort. If that is what they were going to give us, we were going to go with it.”

The defenses took over in the second half and both teams limited the opposing offense’s yardage.

South Hadley had two drives end in Wahconah territory, the last one coming when defensive lineman Zachary Rocca dropped into coverage and stepped in front of a screen pass attempt with 5:38 left in the game.

The big play on the final Warriors’ drive came on fourth-and-eight on the Tigers’ 34 when Grogan found Wells on a screen pass. Wahconah was three-for-four on fourth-down conversions and punted just once — on a quick kick by Grogan out of the shotgun.

“That’s pretty normal for us,” Campbell said. “We probably go for it the most of anybody around. We don’t line up in punt formation. It’s just what we do. Mainly because it puts a lot of pressure on their defense and doesn’t allow them to set up a punt return. We don’t want that to happen.”

The game marked the end of the careers of South Hadley seniors Sean Rondeau, Anthony Bullough, Tikori Mahdi, Liam Murphy, Tyler Narey, Sean O’Connor, Brian Heady, Collin Morley, Brandon Gorman, Max Dowd, Bobby Bishop, Ian Hanrahan and Shippee.

“The senior class this year showed that with hard work in the off-season and dedication that we are a team that is capable of playing at this level,” Scammons said. “It’s going to be on those kids that are coming back to take the baton from the group that is leaving and carry that same philosophy going into next year.”

Jim Pignatiello can be reached at jpignatiello@gazettenet.com.

Related

Despite the loss, South Hadley football will remember trip to Gillette Stadium

Sunday, December 2, 2012

FOXBOROUGH — South Hadley football coach Eric Scammons, who is a lifelong New England Patriots fan, could not help but being a little bit in awe at times before, during and after his team’s Western Massachusetts Division 2 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium on Saturday. “I had to pinch myself a few times and refocus myself on the game,” he … 0

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