Amherst Regional football blasts Northampton to cap perfect regular season

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  • Tom Jacques, top, of Northampton, passes amid teammates Vincent Fahey, left, John Diggins, right, and Amherst Regional player Jack Nagy, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Zayd Sadiq, left, of Amherst Regional, is tackled by Jake Delisle, of Northampton, after evading John Diggins, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Dan Block, center, of Amherst Regional, runs for a gain before being tackled by Kavan Powers, left, and Dan White, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Amherst Regional quarterback J.B. Mills, center, runs for his team's first touchdown against Northampton, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Pierre Tillus, center, of Amherst Regional, heads up the middle against Northampton, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Josh Vecchio, right, of Amherst Regional, runs for a gain before being tackled by Braeden Tudryn, of Northampton, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • JJ Block, top, of Amherst Regional, blocks a pass by Northampton quarterback Tom Jacques, left, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Ethan Howard, center, of Amherst Regional, runs for a gain as Jake Delisle, right, of Northampton, approaches, Friday at Amherst Regional High School. Ryan Antes, left, looks on. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Northampton coach Joe Kocot talks to his team during his game against Amherst Regional, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Northampton quarterback Tom Jacques, center, runs for a gain before being tackled by Amherst Regional defenders Tom Dion, front, and Landon Worgess, Friday at Amherst Regional High School. Wallace Johnson looks on. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • CJ Woodfine-Holmes, left, of Amherst Regional, catches for a two-point conversion against Trevor Maslowski, of Northampton, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jake Delisle, left, of Northampton, grabs the facemask of Shane Robles, of Amherst Regional, while tackling him Friday. A penalty was called. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Amherst Regional coach Chris Ehorn, Jr. talks into his headset during his team's win against Northampton, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Josh Vecchio, center, of Amherst Regional, runs for a gain as Will Shaw, right, of Northampton, tries to tackle him, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. JJ Block, left, looks on. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Tom Jacques, left, of Northampton, passes as Tom Dion, of Amherst Regional, approaches, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Josh Vecchio, of Amherst Regional, glances over his shoulder as he pulls in a pass against Northampton, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Ethan Howard, right, of Amherst Regional, can't get control of a pass as Jake Brittain, of Northampton, tackles him, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Brett Holden, center, of Northampton, carries the ball before being tackled by Amherst Regional defenders Dan Block, left, and JJ Block, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Josh Vecchio, of Amherst Regional, catches to score his team's fourth touchdown against Northampton, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 11/2/2019 12:06:21 AM

AMHERST — Five unanswered Amherst Regional touchdowns put the nail in Northampton’s coffin. Josh Vecchio was the hammer.

Lined up at quarterback in the Hurricanes’ “black formation,” the senior tailback scored two touchdowns in the second half to put the 76th “Battle of the Bridge” out of reach.

His second was a 19-yard burst down the left side early in the fourth quarter that delivered the final margin: 34-7 Amherst.

The victory capped Amherst’s first undefeated regular season since 1959. After the Hurricanes kneeled out the last of the clock, Amherst’s student section streamed onto the field and mobbed its football team.

“It was surreal. We haven’t beat them in four years,” Vecchio said. “I was so happy to be part of this team.”

Amherst (8-0) hadn’t beaten the Blue Devils (5-3) since 2014 when the teams faced off at McGuirk Alumni Stadium on Thanksgiving, four straight losses. After Northampton’s first drive, Friday’s edition appeared headed for more of the same.

The Blue Devils opened with solid runs from Brett Holden and Braeden Tudryn. Seven plays in, Northampton quarterback Tom Jacques faked a handoff to the right and reoriented his shoulders looking left. Jake Brittain had a step on sophomore quarterback Zayd Sadiq, caught looking in the backfield. Jacques’ throw landed in Brittain’s hands, and he reached the end zone 35 yards later to put Northampton ahead with 8 minutes, 42 seconds left in the first quarter.

“At first I was like ‘not another year of Northampton,’ it was one of those plays we know shouldn’t have happened,” said Vecchio, who also plays linebacker. “We decided to focus in and do our jobs.”

It was the first time Amherst trailed since its second game of the season against East Longmeadow. Hurricanes senior quarterback J.B. Mills wasn’t fazed. He implored Amherst’s crowd for energy.

“I told them ‘hey, let’s get it cranked up,’” Mills said. “That’s the first time we went down like that all year.”

Amherst went three-and-out on its first drive, but Mills led a nine-play drive that overcame three false starts the next time out. A 25-yard swing pass to Sadiq down the right side put the Hurricanes in the red zone. After a short Vecchio run, Mills dropped back to pass again. He stepped out of a sack then raced up the middle for a 19-yard score.

“They like to blitz a little bit, I knew I’d have to get out of trouble,” Mills said. “I was a little hesitant tonight, probably could have let it rip a little more.”

The Hurricanes’ two-point conversion attempt failed, so Amherst still trailed 7-6 a minute and a half into the second quarter. Amherst’s defense forced a three-and-out, but its offense turned the ball over four plays later. CJ Woodfine-Holmes then stepped in quickly, intercepting Jacques late in the first half.

Mills led an 11-play drive that Dan Block finished with a 6-yard touchdown run to give Amherst a 14-7 lead entering halftime.

“That’s what great teams do, something bad happens and they’re able to bounce back,” Amherst coach Chris Ehorn Jr. said.

After deferring the opening kickoff, Amherst started the second half with the ball. Mills led the Hurricanes down the field, and they narrowly avoided disaster. After catching a simple crossing pattern, Woodfine-Holmes turned up field toward the end zone. He fumbled the ball near the sideline, and Northampton’s defense pounced. It rolled out of bounds before the Blue Devils could fully gain possession, and Amherst retained possession at the 5. Two plays later, Mills threw a 10-yard slant in the end zone to Shane Robles to go up 20-7.

Then it was up to Amherst’s running backs to put the game away. The Hurricanes haven’t had their full complement of backs for most of the season because of injuries. They were full systems go against the Blue Devils. Dan Block carried the ball 12 times for 113 yards, aided by a 52-yard run at the start of the fourth quarter. Vecchio added 74 yards on seven carries.

“They put their foot on our throat,” Northampton coach Joe Kocot said. “They didn’t stop.”

Northampton played its last two drives without Jacques after he was “nicked up,” Kocot said. Sophomore Dominic Badorini replaced him. It’s one of several questions the Blue Devils need to answer before the playoffs begin next week. Western Massachusetts tournament seeds will come out Sunday morning.

“We’ve got a lot to do,” Kocot said. “It’s a bunch of little things and some big things we need to correct.”

Amherst, meanwhile, will likely host a Division 5 playoff game next week with an undefeated record. The Hurricanes stayed on Community Field long after the final whistle sounded, basking in the rare moment with classmates and family.

“I’ve never beat Northampton in football, and it feels great,” Mills said. “This is a special team, it’s been a hell of a ride so far, and we’re not done yet.”

Amherst Regional 34,
Northampton 7

Northampton

7

0

0

0

—7

Amherst Regional

0

14

14

6

—34

First quarter

N—Jake Brittain 35 pass from Tom Jacques (Jake Delisle kick), 8:42.

Second quarter

A—J.B. Mills 19 Run (Pass failed), 10:34.

A—Dan Block 6 run (CJ Woodfine-Holmes pass from Mills), :23.

Third quarter

A—Shane Robles 10 pass from Mills (Pass failed) 4:10.

A—Josh Vecchio 9 run (Vecchio run), 1:35.

Fourth quarter

A—Vecchio 19 run (Pass failed), 9:01.

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING—Amherst Regional–Block 12-113, Vecchio 7-74, Pierre Tillus 6-11, Mills 5-2. Northampton-Brett Holden 8-17, Dominic Badorini 3-16, Braeden Tudryn 3-6, Jacques 1-1.

PASSING—Amherst Regional–Mills 17-21-150-0. Northampton–Jacques 6-17-70-1, Badorini 1-3-8-0

RECEIVING—Amherst Regional–Zayd Sadiq 3-57, CJ Woodfine-Holmes 6-39, Robles 5-34, Vecchio 2-10, Ethan Murphy 1-10. Northampton-Brittain 2-47, Holden 2-15, Tudryn 3-16.




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