Colts shock Tigers, win Suburban League title
CHICOPEE — The turkey and pumpkin pie might not have tasted quite as good after a loss, but South Hadley head coach Eric Scammons promised that a strong showing on Tuesday would make the bitter taste of a Thanksgiving Day defeat a distant memory.
South Hadley’s offense never got into a rhythm and turned the ball over three times as Chicopee Comp pulled off a 28-10 upset at Mitchel S. Kuzdzal Field Thursday to capture the Suburban League crown.
The win, Comp’s first in the 13-year holiday game since 2003, coupled with Northampton’s 35-15 loss to Amherst Regional, solidified the No. 3 seed in the Western Massachusetts Division 1 playoffs for the Colts (6-4, 5-1 Suburban), who have won six straight since losing their first four.
South Hadley (8-2, 5-1) was undefeated in the league heading into the game, having won its previous six games by 20 points or more.
“I think the loss has probably done the most to refocus them,” Scammons said. “We were having a pretty good run where we were winning a lot of games and this game kind of reminds them that past performance doesn’t guarantee future success.
“They don’t like this feeling. You can tell by watching their demeanor. They wanted to win this game even though in the great scheme of things it wasn’t the ultimate goal. They’re disappointed and I think that’s enough to refocus them.”
Despite the loss, South Hadley remained the No. 1 seed in the Division 2 tournament. The Tigers will play No. 4 Commerce (8-3) in the semifinal round Tuesday. A time and place have yet to be determined.
“Commerce is a team that’s a lot like Chicopee Comp. They struggled early in the season and have gotten stronger as the year went on and have recorded a bunch of shutouts with their strong defense,” Scammons said.
All of the scoring between the Tigers and Colts took place in the first half.
Comp drew first blood with a nine-play, 72-yard drive orchestrated by quarterback Tom Duffy and punctuated by a 5-yard rumble by Brandon Wood with 3 minutes, 14 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Not long after, the Colts took control of the game, capitalizing on a miscue by quarterback Sean Rondeau and his sophomore center. Rondeau couldn’t handle a shotgun snap, tipping the ball over his head and behind him as he attempted to control it. Comp recovered the ball on the South Hadley 18-yard line.
From there, Duffy needed one play to widen the gap, finding a wide open Kyle Pare in the end zone for the score.
The Tigers, held to seven plays and no first downs on their first two possessions, finally put together a scoring drive that was capped by a terrific catch for a touchdown by Anthony Bullough. Rondeau delivered the pass with the perfect amount of touch, putting it just above the fingertips of the Comp defender. Bullough made the leap and picked the ball out of the air, then stumbled and fell into the end zone.
The Tigers then had an opportunity to even the score when Charlie Allard intercepted a deflected pass from Duffy at the Comp 30-yard line. After moving to the 12, the drive stalled and Liam Murphy’s 33-yard field goal attempt missed.
The Colts turned their good fortune into more points as Kyle Soja’s runs of 9 and 38 yards set up Wood’s second score, this time from 8 yards out to push Comp’s advantage to 21-7 with 6:35 remaining in the half.
South Hadley responded with an 11-play drive down to the Comp 13-yard line, but again failed to find the end zone, settling for a 29-yard field goal from Murphy.
Comp kept the foot on the gas and expanded their advantage when Harley Kagen took a bubble screen 32 yards for a TD with 32 seconds remaining in the half.
Chicopee Comp 28,
South Hadley 10
at Chicopee Comp
South Hadley 0 10 0 0—10
Chicopee Comp 14 14 0 0—28
C–Brandon Wood 15-yard run (George Fotopolus kick ), 3:14
C–Kyle Pare 18 pass from Tom Duffy (Fotopolus kick), 1:51
S–Anthony Bullough 43 pass from Sean Rondeau (Liam Murphy kick), 9:41
C–Wood 8 run (Fotopolus kick), 6:35
S–Murphy 29 field goal, 2:24
C–Harley Kagen 32 pass from Duffy (Fotopolus kick), 0:32
Passing: South Hadley: Rondeau 5-12-84-1, Kleszcynski 1-1-5-0; Comp: Duffy 13-19-151-2
Rushing: South Haldey: Shippee 8-54, T. Fitzell 8-46, Rondeau 8-7, Villenueve 4-17, G. Fitzell 1-9; Comp: Wood 10-65, Soja 7-90, Duffy 3-5, Kagen 1-5
Receiving: South Hadley: Bullough 2-53, Shippee 2-24, G. Fitzell 1-5, Villenueve 1-2, Comp: Pare 5-42, Wilke 5-55, Kagen 2-39, Soja 1-6, Dowd 1-1