Nick Leduc caps Belchertown 26-22 comeback over Easthampton
EASTHAMPTON — Trailing by two, the Belchertown High School football team put itself in a compromising position late in the fourth quarter on Saturday.
The Orioles faced a fourth-and-10 at their own 12-yard line with less than two minutes to play against Easthampton High School.
Quarterback Nick Leduc dropped back to pass, saw nothing and took off. The junior scampered 88-yards for the game-winning touchdown. Leduc’s run capped a 26-22 comeback win for the Orioles at sunny White Brook Middle School.
“We had trips on one side it got collapsed,” Leduc said. “I knew if I could get around one guy I could go. I had some amazing blocks downfield.”
With three receivers on the left side, Leduc went up the right sideline and cut toward the middle of the field before finding daylight.
“It was a great football player making an amazing play,” Belchertown first-year coach Chris Bourget said. “You really can’t describe a broken scramble. It was just an athlete in space making special things happen.”
Leduc finished 12 for 21 for 158 yards and two touchdowns, adding five carries and 108 yards on the ground.
The Eagles (2-1, 1-1 Intercounty) jumped on the Orioles (1-2, 1-2) in the first half, taking a 22-6 lead into the break. But Easthampton’s first-string backfield went down with various ailments and the ground game slowed in the second half.
The second half saw Lou Burrell (16 carries, 171 yards) go down with a foot injury that needed immediate medical attention. Alec Perrone (12 carries, 82 yards) also missed time in the second half with cramps.
Easthampton, which had 317 yards rushing, was already without fullback John Lachowicz, who has a broken bone in his left foot.
“Everyone got hurt or had cramps,” Easthampton coach Joe Kocot said. “Plays don’t look the same when you have second- and third-string guys playing. But (number) 14 (Leduc) made some big plays with this feet.”
An 18-play, 98-yard drive in the third quarter helped Belchertown get back in the game.
“After that drive we really believed we would win the game,” Bourget said. “We had a great game plan and stuck with it.”
Belchertown stopped the Eagles on their opening possession of the half. Easthampton drove to Belchertown’s 5-yard line but stalled and gave it up on downs when Perrone got stopped short of the goal line.
The Orioles, facing a 22-6 deficit, drove from the shadow of their own goal post and scored to get back in the game.
Leduc found receiver Jake Bradway (five catches, 104 yards) once on third-and-10 and again on a fourth-and-seven to keep the drive alive.
Jake Mastorakis’ 8-yard run capped the long drive and a 2-point conversion from Leduc to Bradway made it 22-14.
A Leduc 11-yard pass to Steven Boudreau (seven catches, 74 yards) made it 22-20 with 4:36 to play.
Hunter Leveille had a pass defensed and an interception for Easthampton, while Colton Garelli added a sack and five tackles.
Jackson Leduc stood out for Belchertown’s defense with a sack, two tackles for a loss and a fumble recovery.
Easthampton opened the game with a long drive controlled by the running game. The 15-play drive took over seven minutes and gave the Eagles the lead when Perrone plunged it in from 1-yard out.
In the second quarter, Easthampton quarterback Nate LaPlante found Billy Sullivan for a 20-yard touchdown to put the Eagles up 14-0. LaPlante’s play action froze the defense and Sullivan caught the pass in the back of the end zone.
Belchertown answered with a score on its first play after the kickoff return. Leduc hit Bradway for a 60-yard score to make it 14-6.
Burrell’s 47-yard score made it 22-6 Easthampton at half.
The Orioles scored three times in the fourth quarter to complete the comeback.
Belchertown 26, Easthampton 22
Belchertown 0 6 0 20-26
Easthampton 8 14 0 0-22
E-Perrone 1 run (LaPlante run) 2:45
E-LaPlante 20 pass to Sullivan (LaPlante run) 7:30
B-Leduc 60 pass to Bradway (run failed) 7:11
E-Burrell 47 run (run failed) :55
B-Mastorakis 8 run (Leduc pass to Bradway) 9:27
B-Leduc 11 pass Boudreau (run failed) 4:36
B- N. Leduc 88 run (pass failed) 1:32
Passing: Belchertown-N. Leduc, 12-21-158. : Easthampton-LaPlante, 2-5-40
Receiving: Belchertown- Bradway 5-104, Boudreau 7-64, Mastorakis 2-8, Beaudry 1-1; Easthampton-Sullivan 1-17; VanOudenhove 1-23.
Rushing: Belchertown-N. Leduc 5-108, Beaudry 2-2, Mastorakis 2-13. Easthampton-Burrell 16-171, Perrone 12-82, Leveille 7-58, Sullivan 1-1, S. Brodeur 2-5, LaPlante 2-2.