Division 7 football: Wahconah too strong in 46-14 championship win over South Hadley

  • Jake Gai, center, of Wahconah, picks up a fumble by South Hadley senior quarterback Hunter Borowski, right, who was attempting a two-point conversion, and takes it 100 yards for a defensive conversion in the second quarter of the Warriors’ 46-14 win over the Tigers in the Western Massachusetts Division 7 championship at Westfield State University, Friday. At left is South Hadley senior middle linebacker Ben Watkins. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • South Hadley junior free safety Hunter Carey, left, defends Tanner Hill of Wahconah on an incomplete pass on third down in the second quarter of the Tigers' 46-14 loss to the Warriors in the Western Massachusetts Division 7 championship at Westfield State University on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • South Hadley junior running back Hunter Carey, center, stiff arms Gabe Verdi, of Wahconah, on a touchdown run in the second quarter of the Tigers’ 46-14 loss to the Warriors in the Western Massachusetts Division 7 championship. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • South Hadley junior free safety Hunter Carey, center, is helped up by junior cornerback Tyrell Braithwaite, left, and junior defensive tackle Ryan Levrault in the second quarter of the Tigers’ 46-14 loss to Wahconah in the Western Massachusetts Division 7 championship at Westfield State University on Friday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • South Hadley linebacker James Couture, right, brings down Wahconah quarterback Tim Clayton in the end zone on his two-point conversion in the second quarter, Friday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • South Hadley junior running back Tyrell Braithwaite, left, is pursued by Ethan Fusini, of Wahconah, in the second quarter of the Tigers’ 46-14 loss to the Warriors in the Western Massachusetts Division 7 championship. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • South Hadley senior quarterback Hunter Borowski, right pitches to junior running back Tyrell Braithwaite in the second quarter of the Tigers' 46-14 loss to Wahconah in the Western Massachusetts Division 7 championship at Westfield State University on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • South Hadley junior cornerback Tyrell Braithwaite, left, tackles Jake Gai of Wahconah in the second quarter of the Tigers' 46-14 loss to the Warriors in the Western Massachusetts Division 7 championship at Westfield State University on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Rainy night in Westfield as the South Hadley Tigers fell, 46-14, to the defending champion Wahconah Warriors in the Western Massachusetts Division 7 championship at Westfield State University on Friday, Nov. 9, 2018. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 11/10/2018 12:34:57 AM

WESTFIELD — South Hadley lined up for a two-point conversion that could cut Wahconah’s lead to seven.

Tigers senior running back Hunter Carey exploded up the right side of the field for a 58-yard touchdown on the play prior to put South Hadley on the board with 6 minutes, 28 seconds to halftime of the Western Massachusetts Division 7 football championship, Friday.

“My corner made a great block, my line made a great hole and I made a play,” Carey said. “Scoring in a Western Mass. championship game was a great feeling.”

The run energized the Tigers, and a conversion so close to halftime would shift momentum after the Warriors established a two-touchdown lead. Quarterback Hunter Borowski snapped the ball and found a hole on the right side of the line. He fumbled when he was hit just before the goal line, and Wahconah’s Jake Gai took it back more than 100 yards to score two points for the Warriors instead.

“I really thought we had that two,” Carey said. “100 yards for a conversion, that hit the heart.”

It started a 31-point run by Wahconah, as the Warriors never looked back and claimed their second straight Division 7 title with a 46-14 win at Westfield State. They’ll face Saturday’s Central Mass. champion, either Leicester of Blackstone Valley, at Westfield State next week,

“They were just more physical than we were. They started 11 seniors on offense and 10 on defense, and we start three freshmen and a bunch of sophomores,” South Hadley coach Scott Taylor said. “That was a matter of physics. They were bigger than we were and stronger. They do that to a lot of people.”

Wahconah (9-1), on a five-game winning streak, established running back Connor Noyes early. He ran the ball four out of five plays on the Warriors’ first drive and capped it with a 21-yard touchdown at 6:39 in the first quarter. Noyes ran for 122 yards and two touchdowns and caught a 53-yard pass.

“They have a great line. They’ve very strong,” Carey said. “They just came right at us and won this game.”

South Hadley (7-3), which lost for the first time since Sept. 14, sparked to life on its second defensive possession. The ball popped out of Noyes’ hands in driving rain, and senior Aiden Sullivan pounced.

“They had a bad snap. There was no one blocking the back side,” Sullivan said. “For the first half we had it going, then we slowly lost it.”

After Carey’s touchdown, South Hadley trailed 17-6 and kicked the ball back to Wahconah. The Tigers forced a fourth-and-7 with five minutes to halftime. The Warriors lined up in a punt formation but snapped the ball to quarterback Tim Clayton, who found tight end Tanner Hill for an 11-yard gain and kept the drive alive. Noyes ran for his second touchdown four plays later. Wahconah didn’t punt the entire game.

South Hadley fumbled on its next offensive possession, and Wahconah took three plays to find the end zone on a 4-yard pass from Clayton to Tim Lennon with 1:18 to halftime.

Clayton threw for 187 yards and three touchdowns to different receivers.

“We didn’t do our jobs the way we should have,” Sullivan said.

Wahconah built a 46-6 lead early in the third quarter, sandwiching an 18-yard touchdown pass to Dylan Melle and a 34-yard scoring run around intercepting Borowski on South Hadley’s first play of the intervening offensive possession.

The Tigers didn’t fold, though. They embarked on a 15-play drive Ben Watkins culminated with a 1-yard touchdown run with 9:21 left.

“They could have quit a long time ago,” Taylor said. “They kept playing, they play every play, and that’s all we ask of them.”

Carey, who finished with 73 yards on the ground, ran in the two-pointer to end the scoring.

South Hadley will finish its season on Thanksgiving against Holyoke. The Tigers won last year in the inaugural meeting of the teams’ new holiday series.

“We’re gonna move on from this game, accept it, move on to Holyoke an play well,” Carey said.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com.

Wahconah 46, South Hadley 14

South Hadley

0

6

0

8

—14

Wahconah

8

24

14

0

—46

First quarter

W—Connor Noyes 21 run (Jake Gai run), 6:39

Second quarter

W—Tom Burress 19 pass from Tim Clayton (Tanner Hill kick), 8:43

SH—Hunter Carey 58 run (Run failed), 6:28

W—Gai conversion fumble return, 6:28

W—Noyes 7 run (Clayton run), 2:23

W—Tim Lennon 4 pass from Clayton (Hill kick), 1:18

Third quarter

W—Dylan Melle 18 pass from Clayton (Hill kick), 8:31

W—Nate Zink 34 run (Hill kick), 8:07

Fourth quarter

SH—Ben Watkins 1 run (Carey run), 9:21

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING—Wahconah–Noyes 13-122, Zink 3-36, Clayton 4-26, Ian Graham 1-0, Quinn Gallagher 3-(-1), Melel 1-(-1). South Hadley-Carey 7-73, Tyrell Braithwaite 5-45, Watkins 11-30, Dylan Cottingham, 5-19, Hunter Borowski 4-2, Kyle Johnson 2-0, Bailey Avista-Taylor 1-0

PASSING—Wahconah–Clayton 8-12-187-0. South Hadley–Borowski 1-4-16-1, Carey 0-1-0-0.

RECEIVING—Wahconah–Noyes 1-53, Burress 2-37, Gai 1-33, Gabe Verdi 1-31, Melle 1-18, Hill 1-11, Lennon 1-4. South Hadley-Braithwaite 1-16




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