H.S. Football: Pittsfield overwhelms South Hadley 48-0 in battle of Suburban League leaders

  • South Hadley quarterback Burke Belsky, right, hands the ball off to teammate Julius Hebenth (2) during a game against Chicopee earlier this season. The Tigers fell to Pittsfield 48-0 on Friday night at Berkshire Community College. PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER EVANS

For the Gazette
Published: 10/14/2022 11:16:09 PM

PITTSFIELD — When the South Hadley football team got off the bus at Berkshire Community College for Friday’s battle for the Suburban League North lead, the Tigers were looking to keep their league unbeaten streak alive.

Instead, Pittsfield scored each time it had the ball in the first half en route to a 48-0 victory in a battle of the two remaining undefeated teams in the league. Both PHS and South Hadley had come into the game with identical 2-0 league records, and both teams had walked onto the turf at BCC's Gene Dellea Field with two-game winning streaks.

Quarterback Keanu Arce-Jackson did just about everything for Pittsfield. Arce-Jackson ran the ball eight times for 124 yards and touchdowns of six, 44 and five yards. He was 3 for 6 for 53 yards, including a 11-yard touchdown pass to Francis Mensah. Arce-Jackson also ran in three, 2-point conversions and passed for two others. 

"The quarterback is a great runner and is a good thrower as well," said Brian Couture, South Hadley's first-year head coach. "We got dominated on both sides of the line of scrimmage, both offensively and defensively. We were outmatched and outcoached tonight. Hopefully, we'll pick it up next week going into Putnam."

Arce-Jackson wasn't the only Pittsfield player to crack the 100-rushing yard mark. Mensah had four carries for 108 yards, a night that included a jaw-dropping 90-yard run.  

In a game where the fourth quarter was running time, Pittsfield offense rolled up 289 yards at halftime and 415 yards for the night. The Generals held the Tigers to 59 total yards in the first half that saw PHS take a 32-0 lead. South Hadley didn't get a first down until its fourth drive of the game and first of the second quarter.

"It's probably the only full game we've played this year," said Pittfield coach Brian Jezewski said. "We talk about 48 minutes of hell. It's something we discuss in the weight room. We time everything we do. We work really, really hard.

"We're in a playoff push right now, and that's our goal. Our goal is to win the Suburban North and this is a step in that direction.

The Tigers won the toss and elected to take the football, but quickly went three-and-out.

After a 48-yard punt, Pittsfield took over on its 11-yard line. Five plays later, the Generals were in the end zone. Arce-Jackson gained eight yards on third-and-one to keep the drive going. One play later, Dashaun Brown followed right guard Jack Reed and right tackle Jayshawn Warren on a sweep, and then turned on the jets for a 46-yard touchdown run.  

The Generals stopped South Hadley on downs on the Tigers' second series and used a 11-play 58-yard drive to get on the board again. Despite a holding call that wiped out a first down, the Generals drove and scored on Arce-Jackson's six-yard TD run. His second two-point conversion in as many plays gave Pittsfield a 16-0 lead.

That lead proved insurmountable because the visitors were losing battles in the trenches and could not keep up with Pittsfield's speed.

Pittsfield ran four plays in the second quarter. The Generals turned the ball over on their 46 on a fumble, stuffed South Hadley, and then ran the play of the night.

On first down from the PHS five-yard line, Mensah took a handoff, went around the right end and appeared to be stopped for a short gain. But he kept his legs churning, broke out of the pile and his speed is such that he took off and was finally run down on the Tigers' 5.

Pittsfield's final TD was a defensive pick-six. South Hadley quarterback Burke Belsky was looking for Brady Murphy, but instead found Marcus Jubrey. The Pittsfield defensive back outran the South Hadley offense for a 75-yard touchdown.

It was 32-0 at intermission, but the first-year coach emphasized to his team that the game was not over.

“I told them at halftime they scored 32, and that means we can score 32 in the second half,” the South Hadley coach said. “We went into the second half and told them it was 0-0. If they can do it, we can do it. They’re high school kids just like you.”

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