South Hadley fights off Putnam, 37-20

Staff Writer
Published: 11/2/2019 12:09:29 AM
Modified: 11/2/2019 12:09:14 AM

SPRINGFIELD — Coach Scott Taylor’s message in South Hadley’s postgame huddle was about what the program has faced in its last three games – adversity.

The Tigers started the season 5-0, but lost back-to-back games against Minnechaug and Amherst Regional. South Hadley closed its regular season with a 37-20 win against Putnam on Friday, but the team feels like it had too many slip-ups and missed assignments along the way.

“We didn’t start the game off right. We weren’t fired up,” South Hadley running back Hunter Carey said. “We got that going in the second half, but it was a bit late. We put up a fight and met the challenge.”

Carey opened the scoring for the Tigers with 7 minutes, 46 seconds to go in the first quarter off a 4-yard rush up the middle. South Hadley went for an onside kick on the following kickoff, but Putnam recovered.

On the second play of the ensuing drive, South Hadley’s Ryan Levrault strip-sacked Putnam quarterback Dakota Scranton. Linebacker Jack Haber ran in, scooped up the ball and scored for a 50-yard touchdown to put the Tigers (6-2) up 14-0 with 7:27 to go in the opening quarter.

South Hadley and Putnam (0-8) played sloppy for the rest of the quarter, trading turnovers.

Putnam put together a strong drive at the start of the second quarter, but fumbled deep in Tigers’ territory and South Hadley recovered.

The Tigers took advantage and Kyle Johnson scored on a 17-yard run up the middle to put South Hadley ahead, 21-0, with 6:57 to go in the half.

Putnam struggled to move the ball late in the second quarter. The Beavers were called for three straight penalties on their final drive of the quarter.

Putnam got into Tigers’ territory late in the half when South Hadley quarterback Shawn Mitchell threw an interception to the Beavers’ Nyzarie Smith, who returned it to the Tigers’ 44-yard line.

Putnam got inside South Hadley’s 20 with help from a pass interference penalty, but it could not convert the opportunity into points, eventually turning the ball over on downs.

Following a 24-yard field goal by South Hadley’s Harrison Baptiste early in the third quarter, Smith got Putnam on the board by returning the ensuing kickoff 71 yards for a touchdown to close the gap to 24-6.

Carey fumbled midway through the quarter to give Putnam the ball, but more penalties forced the Beavers to punt.

Putnam blocked a South Hadley punt midway through the fourth quarter to give the Beavers a short field. Smith scored soon after with a 24-yard reception to cut the Tigers’ lead to 24-12 with 8:14 to go.

“I don’t want to say we played to the level of our competition, because if we did we probably would have played better,” Taylor said. “Putnam did very well tonight. Those kids play so hard. I know they have been hit by injuries. I don’t know how they haven’t won a game this year. I really don’t.”

Carey scored on a 54-yard run on the first play of the ensuing South Hadley drive. Putnam responded with a 4-yard touchdown run from Kevon Crittendon, who punched in the two-point conversion to cut the lead to 31-20 with 6:16 to go.

On the following drive, Carey scored on a 17-yard rush, his third touchdown of the day, to give South Hadley the insurance score it needed to seal the win.

Although the Tigers have hit some bumps in the road through the last few games of the regular season, the team is ready to dive into the postseason.

“I love this team. I love everything about them,” Taylor said. “I’m very confident in them. I’m confident in their ability to prepare. ... I’m confident we will be ready to go next week, no matter who it is. We’ll see what happens.”

South Hadley 37, Putnam 20

South Hadley

14

7

3

13

37

Putnam

0

0

6

14

20

First quarter

SH — Hunter Carey 4 run (Harrison Baptiste kick), 7:46

SH — Jack Haber 50 fumble return (Baptiste kick), 7:27

Second quarter

SH — Kyle Johnson 17 run (Baptiste kick), 6:57

Third quarter

SH — Baptiste 24 field goal, 7:14

P — Nyzarie Smith 71 kick return (pass failed), 6:58

Fourth quarter

P — Smith 24 pass from Dakota Scranton (pass failed), 8:14

SH — Carey 54 run (Baptiste kick), 8:01

P — Kevon Crittendon 4 run (Crittendon run), 6:15

SH — Carey 17 run (kick failed), 3:59

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

PASSING: South Hadley — Ethan Murphy 1-6-2-1, Shawn Mitchell 2-5-(-2)-1. Putnam: Scranton 10-15-55-1.

RECEIVING — South Hadley: Tyrell Braithwaite 1-2, Austin Robinette 1-2, Johnson 1-(-4). Putnam: Smith 4-28, Leonard Naylor 1-7, Devonte Russell 2-23, Crittendon 1-4.

RUSHING — South Hadley: Johnson 8-97, Braithwaite 12-121, Carey 15-118, Alex Burns 1-4. Putnam: Jacob Boyd 2-8, Smith 1-5, 12-58




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