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Cathedral pulls away from Belchertown 28-21

BELCHERTOWN — The Belchertown football team learned on Saturday afternoon that it takes only three seconds for the complexion of a game to change.

With three seconds left until halftime, the Orioles led Cathedral by three and were due back the football to start the second half. The Panthers, though, converted a 68-yard Hail Mary pass to go ahead for good in its 28-21 Intercounty League win at Belchertown.

“We knew that with three seconds left that they were going to throw deep,” Belchertown coach Chris Bourget said. “Unfortunately their kid came up with it and was able to take it to the house.”

The Panthers possessed the ball at their own 28-yard line with three ticks left on the clock and facing a third-and-11. Instead of playing it conservatively and kneeling to end the half, Cathedral opted to throw up a prayer.

Panthers quarterback Josh Wyzik dropped back and heaved the ball downfield. Waiting for it was wide receiver Alexander Provost, along with three Belchertown defenders. A defender jumped for it and deflected it backwards, right into Provost’s hands, who secured the ball around the Belchertown 30 and raced to the end zone for a touchdown as time expired.

Cathedral (4-2, 4-2) converted the 2-point conversion and led Belchertown 20-15 at the half.

The Hail Mary drastically shifted momentum, but the Orioles had opportunities to take control of the game in the second half, particularly on their opening drive.

Belchertown (1-5, 1-4) began that drive with the ball on its own 41-yard line. Long passes from Orioles quarterback Nick Leduc (11 for 18, 204 yards, three touchdowns) to Jake Bradway (152 receiving yards, two touchdowns) and Steven Boudreau advanced the ball to the Panthers’ 7-yard line. But Belchertown turned the ball over on downs when Leduc and Bradway could not connect on fourth down from the 5-yard line.

“You look at key points in that game, I think that was even more of a key moment than the Hail Mary for the touchdown,” Bourget said. “Because with us getting the ball to start the second half, we were able to erase (the Hail Mary) from our mind and come out focused in the second half.”

Cathedral took advantage of the Orioles’ missed opportunity on its next possession. The Panthers concocted a 14-play, 95-yard drive that took up almost nine minutes of playing time. The drive began at the 7:10 mark of the third quarter and ended with Wyzik’s second rushing touchdown, 1:14 into the fourth quarter to push the lead to 28-15.

“Us not scoring and them going the length of the field is a momentum shift,” Bourget said.

Belchertown clawed back with a touchdown on its next drive, as Leduc and Boudreau hooked up from 4 yards out at the 5:38 mark of the fourth quarter. The failed extra point made the score 28-21. The Orioles received the ball back with 2:30 remaining with a chance to tie the game, but turned the ball over on downs.

Wyzik rushed for 160 yards, and five running backs combined for 181 yards on the ground for Cathedral.

Bradway continued his spectacular junior season. The wide receiver turned a screen pass into a 41-yard touchdown for the Orioles’ first score in the first quarter. Then he tiptoed the side of the end zone on a 29-yard strike from Leduc to put Belchertown ahead 15-12 in the second quarter.

“He’s a very special football player,” said Bourget of Bradway, who now has nine touchdowns on the season. “He works really hard in practice and it translates on the field.”

Cathedral 28, Belchertown 21

at Belchertown

Cathedral 0 20 0 8–28

Belchertown 7 8 0 6–21

First quarter

B- Jake Bradway 41-yard pass from Nick Leduc (Leduc kick) 2:01

Second quarter

C- Josh Wyzik 11 run (2-point failed) 8:31

C- Tim Patterson 24 run (2-point failed) 4:32

B- Bradway 29 pass from Leduc (Steven Boudreau catch) 1:48

C- Alexander Provost 68 pass from Wyzik (Veshon Sharp run) :00

Fourth quarter

C- Wyzik 11 run (Sharp run) 9:46

B- Boudreau 4 pass from Leduc (kick failed) 5:38

INDIVIDUAL STATS

Passing: Cathedral- Wyzik 2-7-77-1; Belchertown- Leduc- 11-18-204-3

Rushing: Cathedral- Wyzik 21-160, Patterson 10-54, Sharp 12-43, Jelani Bland 3-36, Derek Boyd 4-28, Nathan Laprade 3-20; Belchertown- Leduc 7-30, Casey Beaudry 4-10, Jacob Mastorakis 2-4

Receiving: Cathedral- Provost 1-68, Bland 1-9; Belchertown- Bradway 7-152, Boudreau 3-38; Beaudry 1-15

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