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Opening-play touchdown propels Pathfinder to win over Easthampton football

  • Easthampton files out of the locker room before the start of the second half Saturday vs. Pathfinder.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Easthampton files out of the locker room before the start of the second half Saturday vs. Pathfinder.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Easthampton's Billy Sullivan (L) and Pat West (C) take down Pathfinder's Michael Krzynowek (R) during Saturday's matchup at Easthampton.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Easthampton's Billy Sullivan (L) and Pat West (C) take down Pathfinder's Michael Krzynowek (R) during Saturday's matchup at Easthampton.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Easthampton's Nate Laplante throws a lateral pass to Lucious Burrell during the matchup against Pathfinder Saturday.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Easthampton's Nate Laplante throws a lateral pass to Lucious Burrell during the matchup against Pathfinder Saturday.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Easthampton's Shane Andrews weaves through Pathfinder defenders for a touchdown during Saturday's matchup in Easthampton.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Easthampton's Shane Andrews weaves through Pathfinder defenders for a touchdown during Saturday's matchup in Easthampton.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Pathfinder's Alexander Piechota takes down Easthampton's Lucious Burrell with an illegal horse-collar tackle, incurring a penalty in Saturday's matchup.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Pathfinder's Alexander Piechota takes down Easthampton's Lucious Burrell with an illegal horse-collar tackle, incurring a penalty in Saturday's matchup.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Pathfinder's Alexander Piechota takes down Easthampton's Lucious Burrell with an illegal horse-collar tackle, incurring a penalty in Saturday's matchup.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Pathfinder's Alexander Piechota takes down Easthampton's Lucious Burrell with an illegal horse-collar tackle, incurring a penalty in Saturday's matchup.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Easthampton's Morgan Churchill was in some serious pain after injuring his foot during Saturday's matchup against Pathfinder.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

    Easthampton's Morgan Churchill was in some serious pain after injuring his foot during Saturday's matchup against Pathfinder.
    JOSH KUCKENS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Easthampton files out of the locker room before the start of the second half Saturday vs. Pathfinder.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • Easthampton's Billy Sullivan (L) and Pat West (C) take down Pathfinder's Michael Krzynowek (R) during Saturday's matchup at Easthampton.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • Easthampton's Nate Laplante throws a lateral pass to Lucious Burrell during the matchup against Pathfinder Saturday.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • Easthampton's Shane Andrews weaves through Pathfinder defenders for a touchdown during Saturday's matchup in Easthampton.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • Pathfinder's Alexander Piechota takes down Easthampton's Lucious Burrell with an illegal horse-collar tackle, incurring a penalty in Saturday's matchup.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • Pathfinder's Alexander Piechota takes down Easthampton's Lucious Burrell with an illegal horse-collar tackle, incurring a penalty in Saturday's matchup.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS
  • Easthampton's Morgan Churchill was in some serious pain after injuring his foot during Saturday's matchup against Pathfinder.<br/>JOSH KUCKENS

EASTHAMPTON — A halfback pass for a 70-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage propelled Pathfinder to a critical win over the Easthampton football team Saturday at White Brook Middle School.

That play was the difference in the 22-14 win that likely gives the Pioneers the Tri-County League title and the No. 1 seed in Division 4.

“It was a great game, especially at the line of scrimmage,” Eagles coach Joe Kocot said. “That play, it really hurt. Giving up a cushion like that right away, you’re swimming upstream the rest of the way. I like the way our kids fought back.”

With the loss, Easthampton (6-3, 6-1 Tri-County) missed an opportunity to clinch the league title.

With its trick play, Pathfinder (9-0, 7-0 Tri-County) looked to take advantage of an Eagle defense that historically had loaded the box against the run. Quarterback Matthew Stafford pitched the ball to the left to Cody Hess, who had played quarterback earlier in the season when Stafford went down with an injury. Hess tossed the ball up the sideline to Trystan Davis, who came free after releasing his block and ran a delayed route downfield for the score. Stafford connected with Bradley Lord for the 2-point conversion to give Pathfinder an 8-0 lead.

“Usually they are a team that likes to bring a lot of pressure off the edges, which is why we decided to take a shot,” Pathfinder coach Chris Pope said. “The problem was, they didn’t bring the pressure on that play and it was covered pretty well. Really, that play shouldn’t have worked.

“I asked Coach Kocot after the game where that outside pressure was and he said they didn’t do that because of how well we’ve thrown the ball, so there’s some irony for you,” Pope added.

Pathfinder extended its lead to 14-0 with 2 minutes, 32 seconds remaining in the first half when Hess took a pitch to the left and jumped over the pylon for an 8-yard touchdown.

Easthampton had to battle for every yard on the ground against a big Pioneers’ defensive front in the first half, but eventually found a way to get to the end zone in the fourth quarter.

“We knew what we were doing and really, what it was is we weren’t blocking well,” Kocot said. “We started blocking better in the second half and some things opened up for us.”

After a 24-yard run by Lucious Burrell got the Eagles deep into Pathfinder territory, Shane Andrews cut the deficit to 14-6 with some hard running up the middle for an 11-yard score with 5:26 remaining in the game.

The Pioneers answered with a clock-eating drive of nine plays that ended with an 11-yard touchdown run by Michael Krzynowek with 2:06 remaining.

However, Easthampton was able to stay in the game with some help from two personal fouls by Pathfinder which gave the Eagles good field position. Quarterback Nate LaPlante took advantage, finding freshman Hunter Leveille open on a slant. Leveille evaded two players on his way to a 25-yard score. A 2-point conversion by Burrell made it a one-score game, but Easthampton was unable to recover the onside kick and the Pioneers ran out the clock.

“We came back from 14 points down at the half and gave them a really good game,” Kocot said. “We’ll be ready for them if we see them in the playoffs. We’ve got some tricks up our sleeve still.”

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