Belchertown shuts down Sci-Tech, cruises 29-0
BELCHERTOWN — Led by first-year starting quarterback Nick Leduc, the Belchertown football team’s passing attack was at the height of efficiency Friday night.
Leduc’s first three completions all went for touchdown passes to support a defense that pitched its second shutout of the season as the Orioles drubbed Sci-Tech 29-0 in their first home night game of the season.
The junior accounted for 146 yards through the air on only five completions, an average of 29.2, to help Belchertown (6-0, 5-0 Intercounty) overcome three turnovers.
“I feel a lot more comfortable and confident week by week in terms of controlling the offense and making the plays we need to win,” Leduc said. “My guys make my job that much easier, especially James Ryan, Jake Bradway, Jake Mastorakis. No matter who’s in the game and who we throw the ball to, they all are capable of making big plays. ”
The Cybercats (0-7, 0-6) also turned it over three times and gained only 57 total yards on the night. It was the fifth time they’ve been blanked this season.
“It’s always a great feeling to shut a team out, because we work so hard every week,” senior lineman Alex Clair said. “We take every opponent seriously, especially our league opponents. And we do a lot of studying to prepare us for each game, and it’s been showing so far. Every week we get better and better.”
After Belchertown’s first possession went nowhere, a 15-yard Sci-Tech punt gave Belchertown the ball at the Cybercats 43. On second down, Leduc rolled to the left and found a wide open Bradway for a 42-yard touchdown strike with just under two minutes left in the opening quarter.
The Orioles lost their first fumble on the next series, but took over at their own 30 roughly midway through the second. On first down, Ryan split the defensive backs and Leduc hit him in stride about 40 yards downfield. The senior receiver took it the rest of the way for a 70-yard score and a 14-0 advantage.
“On that play, we saw they were running Cover 3,” said Leduc. “Once I saw that, I looked them off and then came back to James, who’s been huge for us all season. We like to feed him the ball as much as possible.”
Ryan led the team in both receiving (82 yards) and rushing (44).
Besides keeping the Cybercats off the scoreboard, the Orioles defense put points up for their side. Backed up at the 1 late in the second, Movontae Heywood took the handoff and was swarmed by Matt Popowich in the end zone for a safety.
A short free kick and a 15-yard penalty allowed the Orioles to start at the Sci-Tech 23 with over two minutes left in the half. Leduc picked up a third-and-1 with a 2-yard sneak to the 12, and on the next play hit Ryan on a slant pattern in the end zone for yet another score.
“We’re a big-play offense right now, but I’m not thrilled with the way we’re running the ball,” Belchertown coach John Mayo said. “So we’re going to have to run the ball better, no question about it. We probably won’t be able to throw those 40, 50, 60-yard touchdown passes the next few games.”
Among eight ball carriers, the Orioles rushed for 107 yards on 33 carries for a 3.2 average.
Belchertown took the second-half kickoff and put together its only concerted touchdown drive of the game, covering 65 yards in eight plays. Leduc capped it off with a 5-yard run for a 29-0 lead.
“Last year we led Sci-Tech 14-0 at half and they came back to beat us,” Leduc said. “We remembered that and Coach Mayo reiterated that to us. We needed to come out on that first drive and try to put it away.”
Sci-Tech had five more possessions to try to avoid the shutout but the Orioles never let them into Belchertown territory. Steve Boudreau intercepted a deep ball by quarterback Tyleek Edwards late in the fourth quarter.
Early in the second, with Belchertown up 7-0, Sci-Tech moved the ball to the Orioles 35. But on a fourth-and-4 from the 36, a pitch to Heywood resulted in a fumble recovered by Alex MacDonald.
Joe Sarno had two sacks and a fumble recovery for the Orioles, while Clair and Tony Pellerin combined for another sack of Edwards. Belchertown also blocked two punts to help win the battle of field position.
“We gave up 14 points in our opener against Easthampton and no team’s scored more than a touchdown the last five games,” Mayo said. “So our defense has been spectacular.”
The closest the Cybercats came to scoring was on the final play of the half. From the Belchertown 43, Edwards found Tawana Caldwell over the middle. Caldwell danced his way free down the right sideline before being taken out of bounds at the 12 as the clock expired.
With three of their first five possessions ending in either a turnover or a punt, Mayo knows the team must improve in the early going. The Orioles conclude the regular season with Frontier, Athol, Greenfield and Pathfinder.
“We’ve gotten off to slow starts in most of our games, and it concerns me because at some point it’s going to cost us,” he said. “With the quality teams we’re playing the next few weeks, we’ll be down a couple scores before we start playing well. So we’ll have to make some adjustments in terms of our pregame.”
Michael Wilkinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Belchertown 29, Sci-Tech 0
Sci-Tech 0 0 0 0—0
Belchertown 7 15 7 0—29
B-Jake Bradway 42-yard pass from Nick Leduc (Leduc kick), 1:53
B-James Ryan 70 pass from Leduc (Leduc kick), 6:06
B-Safety (Movontae Heywood tackled in end zone by Matt Popowich), 2:35
B-Ryan 12 pass from Leduc (kick failed), 1:31
B-Leduc 5 run (Leduc kick), 6:13
PASSING-Sci-Tech: Edwards 4-9-50-1, Roman 0-1-0-0; Belchertown: Leduc 5-10-146-1
RUSHING-Sci-Tech: Heywood 12-25, Edwards 6-(-31), King 3-16, Roman 1-4, Hodge 1-0, Caldwell 1-(-3), Zack Rodriguez 1-(-4); Belchertown: Ryan 9-44, MacDonald 6-12, Leduc 6-6, Sarno 5-28, Thornton 3-7, Dupont 2-3, Mastorakis 1-7, Cote 1-0
RECEIVING-Sci-Tech: Caldwell 3-47, Smith 1-3; Belchertown: Ryan 2-82, Bradway 1-42, Mastorakis 1-12, Sarno 1-10