Football: Northampton rides three pick 6s in rout of Holyoke

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  • Northampton’s Trey Rios pulls down an interception before running it back for a touchdown against Holyoke in the second quarter Thursday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Northampton’s Trey Rios pulls down an interception before running it back for a touchdown against Holyoke in the second quarter Thursday night in Northampton. The Blue Devils won 56-6. Story and additional photos at gazettenet.com/sports. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Northampton’s Trey Rios runs back an interception for a touchdown against Holyoke in the second quarter Thursday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Northampton’s Marty Maslowski (32) reels in a pass for a two-point conversion against Holyoke in the first quarter Thursday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Northampton’s Wesley Parent (14) runs in for a touchdown against Holyoke in the second quarter Thursday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Northampton’s Wesley Parent (14) runs to the outside against Holyoke in the second quarter Thursday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Northampton’s Mykal Norris (22) runs to the outside out of reach of Holyoke’s Lyshad Wilson (78) in the second quarter Thursday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Northampton quarterback Benjamin Sledzieski (2) looks for an open receiver against Holyoke in the first quarter Thursday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Holyoke quarterback Gavier Fernandez runs the ball up the middle against Northampton in the first quarter Thursday night in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff writer
Published: 9/22/2022 11:21:37 PM

NORTHAMPTON – Holyoke won the coin toss prior to Thursday night’s kick-off against Northampton, but from that point forward, the momentum was entirely the Blue Devils’.

Northampton engineered a rout against Holyoke on the Blue Devils’ home field, returning three interceptions for touchdowns on the way to a 56-6 victory. Holyoke struggled against the Blue Devils’ aggressive attack and defense, and also lost their starting quarterback Gavier Fernandez to a late hit in the middle of the second quarter.

“I really do feel for them because they lose their quarterback, and the pick 6 – that’s just putting a needle in the inflatable balloon as a team,” Northampton head coach Joe Kocot said.

Wesley Parent grabbed Northampton’s first pick 6 of the night on Holyoke’s first possession of the game and finished the evening with three touchdowns.

“Just having extra points, extra possessions, it’s always an energy booster. And we really got the sideline going early, which helped us a lot,” Parent said.

Trey Rios added a pick 6 of his own and snagged a second interception with 12.1 seconds to go in the first half. Caleb Steineger’s pick 6 required an electric, athletic move, jumping up to tip a pass out of mid-air and grabbing it on the way down before heading to the end zone. Mykal Norris received the ball to start the second half and ran 50 yards for a touchdown. Northampton recovered two fumbles, successfully recovered an onside kick, sacked Holyoke’s quarterback twice.

Despite all the flashy moves, Kocot knows there’s still room for his team to improve.

“The highlights are great, but when you go and break down the film, we’ll see what we did wrong. Everything wasn’t perfect. We didn’t get the ball until the third, fourth series to start our offense and it was a little clanky,” Kocot said. “It’s not our usual – a lot of our scores tonight was more of a down and distance offensive game.”

Holyoke struck for its lone touchdown at the beginning of the game. Fernandez and the Purple Knights gained one first down before injury pulled him from the play, and a penalty gave them an automatic first down. Freshman quarterback Nathan Pok came in and finished the job, helped along by a highlight-reel Dymeri Gonzalez 22-yard rush to the Northampton 5. Asa Allen was the recipient of the touchdown throw from Pok.

“We’re a young team, we’re gonna take our lumps while we’re young,” Holyoke coach David Guzman said. “Northampton has got a good strong football team – they’re aggressive, tough.”

Guzman expects that Gonzalez will be out for longer than a week, though it’s not clear exactly how long the injury will sideline him.

Pok did his best to keep the Purple Knights in the game, but the momentum that Northampton’s upper classmen had was too strong to counter. While the stars of the show were players like Northampton’s bench players got a chance to get game action in the fourth quarter. Sledzieski came out in the middle of the third quarter, replaced by Alex Rosen. Those in-game reps were invaluable for Northampton’s players.

“(It’s) very important. It’s for them, mental health-wise, it’s very good for them,” Kocot said. “They deserve it.”

After Thursday’s game, both teams will turn their attention to their next opponents. Northampton faces West Springfield on September 30, while Holyoke will suit up against Westfield next Friday.


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