Mounties blank Belchertown in Division 3 Super Bowl
Belchertown Orioles player, Nicholas Leduc, runs with the ball during the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Superbowl game at Westfield College on December 1, 2012. (Kayla Galway/Berkshire Eagle) Purchase photo reprints »
Ethan Ryan, left, of Mount Greylock, tackles James Ryan of Belchertown during the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Super Bowl game at Westfield Starte University on Saturday. Mount Greylock won 24-0. (Kayla Galway/Berkshire Eagle) Purchase photo reprints »
WESTFIELD — The Belchertown football team stayed within one score of Mount Greylock until early in the fourth quarter of the Western Massachusetts Division 3 Super Bowl Saturday afternoon.
But when their two best drives resulted in no points, it spelled trouble for the Orioles, who could not take advantage of one final outstanding defensive effort in a 24-0 loss to the Mounties.
“Our offense was clicking early, especially on that first drive, and our defense held them to just the eight points in three quarters, so we were right there,” senior linebacker Tony Pellerin said. “But they made some big plays on defense to stop us.”
Top-seeded Belchertown (10-2) was behind 8-0 early in the fourth quarter. But No. 2 Mount Greylock (11-1) shut out an opponent for the fifth time in 12 games.
“We were right there at 8-0,” said Orioles coach John Mayo. “We hung in and hung in. I started to feel we were destined to win this thing somehow, maybe in overtime. Didn’t work out. It was nice to win the (semifinal) game the other night and make the Super Bowl, but our guys weren’t content to just be here.”
Mounties star running back Ethan Ryan rushed for 226 yards and three touchdowns, surpassing the 2,000-yard mark for the season. In two postseason games, Ryan had 510 yards and nine scores.
Mount Greylock “isn’t huge up front, but Ryan and (Daivon) Clement both run hard,” Mayo said. “We haven’t played another team with two quality backs like those guys. As a whole, that team has four or five legitimate college players.”
James Ryan led Belchertown with 55 yards on the ground on 14 carries, while quarterback Nick Leduc added 42 rushing yards and 32 through the air. Ryan had a pair of receptions for 14 yards.
Behind Ryan and Leduc, the Orioles took the opening kickoff and drove inside the Mounties’ 10-yard line, but the march stalled at the 8.
A false-start penalty made a field goal attempt 30 yards, and Leduc pulled it wide left.
“Some things didn’t go our way early,” said Ryan. “If we could have capitalized there, things might have been different. But we left it all out on the field, and we couldn’t have asked for a better effort.”
And Mayo said, “I’m afraid I’m going to look at the film and see that we should have scored there. You always want to score first and get a lead, so that’s why we tried the field goal. Nick’s a good kicker, it was just a little wide.”
Mount Greylock led 8-0 at halftime and started the second half by driving inside the Belchertown 10, but a hit by James Ryan caused a fumble by Ethan Ryan which the Orioles recovered on their own 8. They marched to the Mount Greylock 38-yard line before turning the ball over on downs.
Mounties defensive ends Tyler Picard and Brett McCormack provided a heavy pass rush, which included a sack by each to thwart that first possession of the second half.
“We got the fumble and had a great drive, but the sacks were a killer,” said Mayo. “Their team speed was tough to handle. Those ends were tough, and their defensive backs were the best we played all season.”
Five plays later, Ethan Ryan ran off right tackle and raced through the middle of the defense for a back-breaking 51-yard touchdown with 8 minutes, 12 seconds to play.
“Ethan Ryan’s a great back, he cut back a lot and we overpursued a little bit,” said James Ryan. “He had a great game. He ran really low to the ground and was tough to bring down.”
Late in the first quarter of a scoreless game, Mount Greylock started a drive at the 50. Ryan had a 32-yard scamper to the Belchertown 15, then picked up a fourth-and-four from the 9-yard-line.
The Mounties overcame a personal foul penalty when quarterback Brodie Altiere rolled left and found Brett McCormack to convert a fourth-and-six. Ryan capped the drive on the next play with a 3-yard touchdown run.
Trailing 16-0, the Orioles’ next two possessions consisted of one play each. Leduc tried going deep but was intercepted both times by Eric Leitch.
Leitch returned his second pick to the Belchertown 21. Ryan took all five carries and scored on a 2-yarder with 3:22 left.
Tyrell Thomas also had an interception for the Mounties with two key pass deflections.
“When they went ahead, they played a soft coverage,” said Mayo. “And (Thomas) made two deflections on passes to James that would have been touchdowns. So maybe we could have had a lead at halftime.”
The loss marked the final game for Belchertown seniors Ryan, Pellerin, Joe Sarno, Ben Thornton, Michael Sugrue, Jake LaFleche, Alex Clair, Matt Popowich, Jake Cote, Alex MacDonald and Lawrence Belbin.
“I’ll remember the hard work and how we all came together this year,” said Pellerin, the team’s captain. “That’s why we had such a good season.”
Mayo said, “All our team worked so hard, and especially our seniors. They all contributed, and we relied on them all year. We had nine seniors on defense. They’re all great kids to be around, and it’s hard to describe their contribution to this program.”
Michael Wilkinson can be reached at email@example.com.