H.S. Football: Belchertown outlasts Smith Vocational, 36-14 (PHOTOS)

  • Belchertown’s Landon Andre carries the ball during the Orioles’ game at Smith Vocational on Friday in Northampto STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Smith Vocational quarterback Alex Martinez carries the ball against Belchertown during action Friday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • Belchertown quarterback Landon Andre jumps into Chris Daskam’s arms after Daskam scored a touchdown late in the first half against Smith Vocational on Friday in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO / KYLE GRABOWSKI






Staff Writer
Published: 9/9/2022 10:40:24 PM
Modified: 9/9/2022 10:40:03 PM

NORTHAMPTON – Chris Daskam drifted into an open space in the end zone as his quarterback Landon Andre eluded Smith Vocational tacklers in the backfield.

Andre, the Belchertown quarterback, bought time while Daskam opened a window before he launched the football drifting to his off-handed left side. The throw wobbled some, but Daskam cleared enough space so no Viking could reach it. He caught it safely with two hands then rolled into the end zone for a go-ahead score with under a minute left in the first half.

“That drive was the turning point for us. I was just sitting there in the end zone,” Daskam said. “He got me and I feel like the whole tide turned and we started sweeping them.”

It put the Orioles ahead for good and sparked 22 unanswered points in a 36-14 Belchertown independent victory. That drive lasted 14 plays, covered 61 yards and included two fourth down conversions.

The teams had traded touchdowns to start the game. Smith Vocational quarterback Alex Martinez hit Jared Baer for a 50-yard catch and run up the middle that Baer broke to the sideline on the Vikings’ first play. They converted the two-point pass to go up 8-0.

“I'm so proud of him. He's struggled in the past with catching the ball,” Martinez said. “Tonight, he really showed that he can do that. I'm really proud of him for stepping up.”

Belchertown (1-0) needed a little more time to respond. The Orioles ran through Andre on their first offensive possession, and he capped the drive with a 41-yard touchdown scramble that broke several tackles and included a vicious stiff arm. The tackle into the end zone knocked the wind out of him, but he choked out “Did I score?” to the trainers examining him. Daskam ran in the conversion to tie the game with 7 minutes, 54 seconds left in the first quarter.

“Landon just set the tone. He got us going early, and I think that gave the line some confidence,” Belchertown coach Dan McCarthy said.

Smith Vocational figured if the play wasn’t broke, call it again. Martinez hit Baer again on a de ja vu pass from 55 yards out to retake the lead 14-8 on the next play.

“I thought it was only gonna work once, and it worked twice,” Smith Vocational coach Alex Subocz said. “We didn’t call it a third time because they’d had two long drives and we hadn’t been on offense. Our guys started to get gassed. Probably should have called it again.”

Belchertown’s Josh Grillo tied the game with a four-yard touchdown run after a 12-play, 69 yard drive. 

The Orioles forced a punt on their next defensive series, the first stop of the game. It started a series of three punts in a row before Belchertown wrested control with Andre’s pass to Daskam.

The lights at Smith Vocational’s field clicked off right before the halftime buzzer. It caused a slight delay to the beginning of the second half but didn’t hamper the Orioles. Daskam ran the ball five straight times out of halftime and plunged into the end zone from a yard out 2:13 into the second half to make it 30-14. He ran five times that drive for 44 yards, finishing with 17 carries for 99 yards and two scores.

“I like being reliable for the team,” Daskam said.

The lights were not as reliable. They flickered off again with 4:29 remaining in the third and caused another 15-minute delay. It broke up a Belchertown drive that the Orioles finished with Daskam’s second touchdown to go up 36-14 with 1:41 left in the third.

“I think it’s just a mental battle. Mentally we beat them with that light situation,” Daskam said. “We stayed ready.”

Smith Vocational didn’t hang its heads even as the scoreboard shifted. Brian Leyton recovered a fumble with 5:08 left to give the Vikings a chance to cut into the lead. 

“This team showed so much heart,” Subocz said.

Martinez led the way with 156 yards through the air and two touchdowns. Baer accounted for 114 of them on four receptions.

Grillo grabbed an interception with 2:32 left, and the Orioles ran the clock out from there.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk. 
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