Division 7 football: Frontier Regional holds off South Hadley, 28-21, to reach WMass championship

  • Frontier's 28 Aaron Landry vs South Hadley in Deerfield Friday night. November3, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • SH 21 Liam Dawson vs Frontier in Deerfield Friday night. November3, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • South Hadley's 17, on helmet, Marcus Larrier scoops a fumble, shakes a tackle and scores a TD in Deerfield Friday night. November3, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • South Hadley's 18 Michael Pratt in Deerfield Friday night. November3, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • South Hadley's 2 Hunter Carey in Deerfield Friday night. November3, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Frontier Regional receiver Kiernan Freeman hauls in a 7-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Matt Hildreth, during a Western Massachusetts Division 7 Tournament semifinal, Friday in South Deerfield. Frontier won 28-21. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • TD pass from 7 Matt Hildreth in Deerfield Friday night. November3, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • South Hadley's 2 Hunter Carey is upended by Frontier's 10 Garrett DeForest in Deerfield Friday night. November3, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Frontier's 28 Aaron Landry vs South Hadley in Deerfield Friday night. November3, 2017. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

@kylegrbwsk
Published: 11/3/2017 11:52:14 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — Steven Worthley’s legs grinded against the muck all night, churning out rushing yards. With less than a minute left in Friday’s Western Massachusetts Division 7 semifinal, the second-seeded Frontier Regional football team needed them for another purpose.

He lined up to punt with a one-score lead at Frontier’s 45-yard line. Worthley sent the ball high into the air, and it bounced at the South Hadley 9 in front of Tigers’ returner Hunter Carey. The ball skipped past him, and he had to scoop it up to return it back to the 9.

There were 45.9 seconds left, and No. 3 South Hadley was out of timeouts.

It was too much field and not enough time.

“I emphasized special teams all week,” Frontier coach Don Gordon said. “That last punt we got off, phew, that was huge.”

The Red Hawks forced South Hadley to turn the ball over on downs and held on for a 28-21 win. They’ll advance to next week’s Western Mass. championship game against top-seeded Wahconah, which beat No. 4 Palmer 37-6. Wahconah knocked the Red Hawks out of last year’s postseason in the semifinals.

“We’re looking for revenge, we want it,” Frontier senior Aaron Landry said. “We want Wahconah.”

After Worthley’s punt, South Hadley quarterback Michael Pratt hit Marcus Larrier for a 22-yard gain. Four straight incompletions, including one on a spike to stop the clock, gave Frontier (8-1) the ball back and allowed the Red Hawks to end the game with a kneel.

“A little nervous, we didn’t get too tight, though,” Landry said. “We have a strong, stout defense, and I think we’re very powerful.”

Pratt and Tigers’ running back Liam Dawson gave the Red Hawks reason to be nervous in the fourth quarter.

They started the final frame down 28-7 after Bryce Dobosz scored from 8 yards out with 6:45 left in the third.

Dawson made it 28-14 in a flash on his first carry that quarter. He sprinted 73 yards down the right sideline with 8:50 to go.

“My blockers did a perfect job,” he said. “I hit the edge and was gone.”

South Hadley (5-4) tried to get the ball back with an onside kick. The Tigers recovered the ball but were called for an interference penalty after their kicking team contacted Frontier players before the Red Hawks had a chance to catch the ball.

The Tigers’ defense forced two three-and-outs, turning the ball over on downs in between, then Pratt started throwing. He led the Tigers on a nine-play drive, finishing it with a 14-yard fade to Larrier that cut Frontier’s lead to 28-21 with 1:56 left.

“We love Pratt, he did everything he could for us,” Dawson said.

Larrier accounted for South Hadley’s other touchdown, too, scooping up a fumble and running 20 yards for the score in the last minute of the first quarter to tie the game at 7.

Landry opened the game’s scoring on the third play with a 50-yard run down the left side, scoring with 10:09 left in the first quarter.

“The line opened up the biggest hole I’ve probably every seen,” he said. “Then it was off to the races.”

Frontier went up 13-7 on a 38-yard pass from Matt Hildreth to Kiernan Freeman with 3:35 to halftime, and Dobosz made it 21-7 with 53.8 before half.

Frontier scored three of its four touchdowns on the ground and ran for 189 yards.

“They’re ground and pound. They’ve got a great system going here,” Dawson said. “We just didn’t expect that coming right off the bat like that.”

Frontier will play for a championship for the first time since losing to Mahar in the 2009 Western Mass. Super Bowl.

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

Frontier Regional 28, South Hadley 21

South Hadley

7

0

0

14

—21

Frontier Regional

7

14

7

0

—28

First quarter

F—Aaron Landry 50 run (Matt Hildreth kick), 10:09.

SH—Marcus Larrier 20 fumble return (Shawn Mitchell kick), 24.5

Second quarter

F—Kiernan Freeman 38 pass from Matt Hildreth (Kick failed), 3:35.

F—Bryce Dobosz 1 run (Hildreth run), 53.8.

Third quarter

F—Bryce Dobosz 8 run (Hildreth kick), 6:45.

Fourth quarter

SH—Liam Dawson 73 run (Mitchell kick), 8:50.

SH—Larrier 14 pass from Michael Pratt, 1:56.

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING—Frontier Regional–Landry 9-82, Steven Worthley 13-58, Dobosz 10-45, Hildreth 3-4. South Hadley-Dawson 11-104, Ben Watkins 7-31, Hunter Borowski 8-22, Hunter Carey 3-8, Pratt 4-(-6)

PASSING—Frontier Regional–Hildreth 1-2-38-0. South Hadley–Pratt 9-25-0-105, Dawson 0-1-0-0.

RECEIVING—Frontier Regional–Freeman 1-38. South Hadley-Larrier 2-38, Ben Watkins 2-26, Hunter Borowski 2-15, Dawson 2-13, Hunter Carey 1-13.




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