H.S. Football: Easthampton capitalizes on five Belchertown turnovers in 28-0 win

For the Gazette
Published: 10/8/2021 11:07:20 PM

BELCHERTOWN — One team's miscue makes for the opposing team's opportunity, and Easthampton was gifted more than its share of opportunities Friday night.

All four Eagles touchdowns came as a direct result of Belchertown turnovers, and the visitors didn't have a scoring drive of longer than 30 yards. Easthampton extended an 8-0 halftime lead with a pair of third-quarter scores and went on to a 28-0 whitewash in a key Intercounty League South battle.

The Eagles (4-1, 1-1 IL South) got just the bounce-back they needed following a 30-0 league loss last week to Hoosac Valley.

“At halftime, we talked to the kids about being patient and changing up the play-calling, and they responded well,” said Easthampton head coach Matt Bean. “You could see the field was really wet and some things we'd normally try to do, we were unsuccessful doing.

“We really needed it. We learned a lot from last week, and I was proud of them that we came back and put together a solid game.”

Belchertown (2-3, 1-1 IL South) lost three fumbles and two interceptions. The Orioles didn't make it into Eagle territory until late in the third quarter, reaching as close at the Easthampton 2, before failing on fourth-and-goal when Luke Kraus stopped Nolan Otto for a 2-yard loss.

“If you can't do the basics right, you can't expect to run plays right," said Belchertown head coach Dan McCarthy. “We've gotta go back to the drawing board and just focus on fundamentals. That's the moral of it.”

Easthampton ran 77 offensive plays to Belchertown's 39, racked up 178 rushing yards while limiting the Orioles to only seven yards on the ground, and finished with a 261-94 advantage in total offense.

The Eagles' first two series ended on downs first at the Belchertown 10 and then the 20, but they would get the ball right back when Angel Moody recovered a fumble at the Orioles' 22. Three plays lost two yards, then on fourth-and-12, Shea Healy (6-of-12 passing, 83 yards) found Keith Cudworth against the right sideline. Cudworth spun inside a defender and sprinted into the end zone, with Giancarlo Osiecki's two-point conversion run boosting the Eagles into an 8-0 lead with 7:03 left in the half.

Healy then came up with an interception of Otto to give Easthampton the ball at the Belchertown 33, and Kraus then snapped off an 18-yard run down to the 15. The Eagles would get to the Belchertown 4 before the Orioles recovered a Healy fumble at the 6.

The Orioles then got a booming 55-yard punt from Erik Magner to flip field position, but Healy completed passes of 18 yards to Cudworth and 28 yards to Kraus to get the Eagles close again before halftime. They would eventually turn the ball over on downs at the Belchertown 25, and settled for an 8-0 lead at the break.

Another lost Belchertown fumble less than a minute into the third gave Easthampton possession at the Orioles' 23. Osiecki (22 carries, game-high 98 yards) then scored the first of his two touchdowns on a 4-yard run, followed by his own two-pointer, as the Eagles moved in front 16-0 with 9:29 left in the third.

Belchertown started well on its next drive with a 26-yard completion from Otto to Chris Daskam, but lost another fumble two plays later and Easthampton took over at the Orioles' 30. Another score by Osiecki, this one from 10 yards away, made it a 22-0 game at the 4:45 mark.

The teams then exchanged a pair of turnovers on downs before Easthampton's BB Tauscher came up with an interception and a 31-yard return to the Belchertown 25. That set up the last score, a 5-yard run by Kraus, coming with only 40.4 seconds to play.

Kraus and Tauscher added 41 and 40 rushing yards respectively for the Eagles, while Cudworth caught four passes for 65 yards. Otto finished 9-of-19 passing for 87 yards. Eli Sayball-Wimmer was the Orioles' top target with four catches for 58 yards, including a 42-yard catch-and-run.

Several injuries on both sides marred the evening. Easthampton's Connor Mott left the game early on with an apparent left shoulder injury.

Both teams next face Berkshire County opposition Friday night at 7 p.m., with Easthampton traveling to Lee and Belchertown at home to welcome Hoosac Valley.

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