Amherst Regional can’t close on Agawam, falls 42-19
AMHERST — Twice in the first half the Amherst Regional football team pulled within a touchdown against Agawam Friday afternoon.
But twice the Hurricanes failed to get the ball back on offense with a chance to tie, and the Brownies eventually ran away with a 42-19 victory.
Amherst (0-5) closed to within 14-7 and 21-13, but allowed touchdowns on the subsequent Agawam possessions. One of them came on a 69-yard pass from quarterback Mike Vecchiarelli to tight end Joshua Flynn.
“We played right with those guys, but we left at least two touchdowns on the field and gave up huge plays,” Amherst coach David Thompson said.
For the second straight week, Amherst quarterback Jack Faulstick led a solid passing attack. He threw for 261 yards and a touchdown on 15-for-29 passing.
The return of receiver Taj-Amir Torres after two weeks sparked the offense. The junior caught eight passes for 126 yards and a touchdown.
“I felt pretty good physically, but I’m upset we lost,” Torres said. “It’s not a good feeling to be 0-5. We know we need to win out if we have any hopes for the playoffs. But even for pride, we have to win out.”
Brandon Rivera had 73 yards receiving and Donovan Riley added 68.
The Hurricanes seemed poised to once again close to within a touchdown on the first possession of the second half. Torres returned the kickoff 37 yards to the Agawam 47, and four plays later Amherst stood on the Brownies’ 11.
But after Riley was knocked out of bounds just short of the 1, Amherst failed to gain anything on third down, then lost four on fourth.
“You simply have to take advantage of red zone opportunities, especially on the goal line,” Thompson said. “If we put up those 14 points, it’s a ballgame.”
Following a 14-yard run by Stephen Comee to move it to the 20, Flynn burned the ’Canes defense again by taking a short pass over the middle and breaking free for an 80-yard score.
“Those are blown coverages, once we bit too hard on the play actions,” Thompson said. “We told them to watch the tight end, but guys are looking in the backfield, and the tight end runs right by. We need to pay attention on every play. And we absolutely need to wrap up. We’re giving other teams far too many opportunities.”
Vecchiarelli only completed 4-of-11 passes, but had 176 yards and two touchdowns.
Comee posted a game-high 165 yards on 21 carries, while Giovanni Russo carried 14 times for 97 yards. Each scored two touchdowns.
The Hurricanes moved the ball nicely most of the afternoon, but three times they were turned away after moving inside the Agawam 20, including the final drive of the first half.
“We have to be physical and disciplined, and right now we’re neither of those things,” Torres said. “We’re playing like we don’t want it. So we need to come out next week and play like it’s our last game. We have to come out firing every play. We can’t shut down on any point. It’s not about any one player, we’re a team.”
The Hurricanes got on the board late in the first. JJ Sylla set them up at the Brownies 9 on a 40-yard punt return. On third-and-goal, Faulstick scrambled before finding Torres just over the goal line for the touchdown.
“I dropped one earlier on the drive in the end zone, so I wasn’t going to drop another one,” Torres said. “Once I saw Jack scrambling, I knew to come back toward the ball and he made a nice throw.”
Faulstick accounted for 59 yards passing on the next scoring march. A 34-yard strike to Torres got it started, then a 21-yarder to Riley moved the ball to the 9. Sylla ran it in from 5 yards to make it 21-13.
The Amherst defense allowed seven touchdowns in 11 Agawam possessions, and gave up 21 unanswered points as the Brownies increased their advantage to 42-13.
Riley closed the scoring with 6:01 left by taking the snap out of the Wildcat and finding room to the right side for a 38-yard touchdown.
Michael Wilkinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Agawam 42, Amherst Regional 19
Agawam 21 7 14 0—42
Amherst 7 6 0 6—19
Ag-Stephen Comee 2-yard run (Jason Carleton kick), 7:49
Ag-Giovanni Russo 19 run (Carleton kick), 3:02
Am-Taj-Amir Torres 9 pass from Jack Faulstick (Nikolai Wright kick), 1:07
Ag-Joshua Flynn 69 pass from Mike Vecchiarelli (Carleton kick), 0:07
Am-JJ Sylla 5 run (kick failed), 10:22
Ag-Russo 8 run (Carleton kick), 2:23
Ag-Flynn 80 pass from Vecchiarelli (Carleton kick), 7:52
Ag-Comee 3 run (Carleton kick), 5:22
Am-Riley 38 run (run failed), 6:01
Passing: Agawam-Vecchiarelli 4-11-176; Gallarani 1-1-7-0; Amherst-Faulstick 15-29-261-0; Riley 2-2-43-0
Rushing: Agawam-Comee 21-165, Russo 14-97, Ortega 5-3, Gallarani 4-1, Vecchiarelli 2-21, Carrociola 1-4, Headly 1-3, Molta 1-3, Grassetti 1-2, Cooper 1-0; Amherst-Faulstick 7-12, Rivera 5-4, Sylla 4-14, Riley 1-38
Receiving: Agawam-Flynn 2-149, Russo 1-18, Comee 1-9, 1-7; Amherst-Torres 8-126, Riley 4-68, Rivera 2-73, Wright 2-9, Rogers 1-28