Short-handed South Hadley runs past Chicopee, 31-14

For the Gazette
Published: 9/27/2019 11:06:02 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — With injuries up and down the depth chart, the South Hadley football team stayed undefeated following a 31-14 victory over Chicopee, Friday night.

It was the second straight week the Tigers (3-0) surpassed 30 points.

“This is kind of how you always hope it goes,” South Hadley coach Scott Taylor said. “Our kids have played hard, we had some injuries this week at practice, so the kids did a great job of overcoming it. Chicopee is always a well-coached team, and I think the kids just did a good job at responding to adversity.”

South Hadley played without senior running back Hunter Carey, but the Tigers didn’t miss a beat.

“Obviously if you ever lose somebody with Hunter’s abilities, it’s a blow to the team but Kyle (Johnson) stepped up tonight, Colin Mailhott stepped up tonight, Tyrel (Braithwaite) steadied the ship, and I thought Shaun (Michell) and Ethan (Murphy) did a great job running the offense,” Taylor said.

The Tigers’ rushing attack was a group effort. After a mediocre first half, Johnson surged for 89 yards and two touchdowns in the third quarter. he finished with 135 yards on the ground.

“They were just falling apart all around, and our offense blocked great for us throughout the game,” Johnson said.

The Tigers got off to a fast start on their first drive of the game, throwing for 42 yards on three plays and capping the drive with a 3-yard plunge from running back Mailhott, who finished with nine carries for 30 yards.

South Hadley made it 14-0 when quarterback Shaun Michell found Austin Robinette on a 25-yard touchdown pass. Michell was forced left out of the pocket and chased toward to the sideline. He stopped by his team’s bench and unleashed to Robinette, who was waiting under the ball by the left pylon.

The Pacers hit back in the third quarter, scoring on a 41-yard strike from Steven Matta to Jerome Jacobs. But South Hadley answered back with two touchdowns to take a 28-6 lead into the fourth.

Leading 28-14 and facing fourth down from Chicopee’s 24, Taylor sent kicker Harrison Baptiste out to try a field.

Baptiste nailed the 34-yard kick with 3:41 to cap the scoring.

“He’s something special,” Taylor said. “We aren’t the best developers of kickers, so we might look for somebody to help us with him, but he was impressive tonight.”

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