Thanksgiving football: South Hadley’s Hunter Carey closes career with monster game to beat Holyoke

  • The South Hadley football team raises the rivalry trophy after defeating Holyoke 50-26 at home Thursday. The Tigers have gone 3-0 against Holyoke on Thanksgiving since beginning the tradition. GAZETTE STAFF / GAGE NUTTER—

  • South Hadley's Hunter Carey raises the rivalry trophy after defeating Holyoke 50-26 at home Thursday. The Tigers have gone 3-0 against Holyoke on Thanksgiving since beginning the tradition. GAZETTE STAFF / GAGE NUTTER—

Staff Writer
Published: 11/28/2019 4:15:35 PM

SOUTH HADLEY – Hunter Carey has played some great games out of the backfield for South Hadley the last three years, but he saved his best for last.

Carey finished Thursday’s Thanksgiving day match up with Holyoke with 332 yards and six touchdowns on 12 carries to lead the Tigers past the Purple Knights, 50-26, at home.

“This is probably the best game I’ve ever played,” Carey said. “All the credit goes to the line. I couldn’t have gotten through without those guys up front. I had to leave it all out there. Leave it all out there, or lose. It was my last ride.”

The win moves the Tigers to 3-0 in their Thanksgiving series with the Purple Knights that started in 2017.

“Everyone did their job today,” South Hadley coach Scott Taylor said. “It’s coming off a loss in the state semifinals, but you don’t have to motivate these kids. Holyoke is a much bigger school than we are, they love the challenge. They love when people pick against them. It adds to their desire. It’s a great group of kids. One of the best teams I’ve had from a mental and physical standpoint.”

Purple Knights quarterback Gabriel Fernandez scored four total touchdowns and threw for 181 yards on 17-of-26 passing.

“(South Hadley) executed extremely well,” Holyoke coach Joe Dutsar said. “They made plays when they needed to. … I’m proud of my kids. They fought tooth and nail. Put up a good effort and found some ways to put points on the board.”

The Tigers’s Marquis Fitzell intercepted a Fernandez pass on the Purple Knights’ first drive to give South Hadley the ball at its own 40-yard line. Two plays later, Carey ran the ball on a sweep down the sideline and scored a 56-yard touchdown to put the Tigers on the board.

After forcing a Holyoke three and out, South Hadley running back Kyle Johnson got the ball on a pitch and scored with a 59-yard run.

The Purple Knights were backed up in the Tigers’ end of the field later in the first quarter and set to punt. The Purple Knights’ long snap was off the mark and allowed South Hadley’s Ryan Levrault to break through the line of scrimmage and block the punt. A group of Tigers players tried to dive on the ball, but it rolled out of the back of the end zone for a safety to make the score 16-0 with 6 minutes, 25 seconds in the opening quarter.

Carey returned the following kick deep into Holyoke territory. He scored two plays later with an 8-yard run.

Fernandez moved the ball down to South Hadley’s 17-yard line on the following drive with an 18-yard pass to Aiden Consedine and a 8-yard pass to Jael Cabrera. The Purple Knights failed to convert a fourth down. On the second play of the ensuing South Hadley drive, Carey broke free for an 83-yard touchdown – his third of the quarter.

“He is one of the best players in western Massachusetts,” Taylor said. “He is a big reason we got as far as we got. I’d put him on any team with anybody and I think he would be just fine.”

The Purple Knights started to move the ball more efficiently in the second quarter. Rrunning back William Dumoulin carried the ball eight times on Holyoke’s first drive and helped bring the Purple Knights down to the Tigers’ goal line. Fernnadez capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.

“We weren’t really respecting the run,” Carey said. “We knew they had a really good quarterback and had the ability to scramble out, but we were more focused on the pass. When they started running the ball we realized that we needed to stop that first.”

Holyoke got the ball back with an onside kick. The following drive followed the same formula. Dumoulin gashed South Hadley’s defense with runs up the middle to pick up first downs. The drive was capped by a 9-yard touchdown reception from Aiden Consedine to make the score 29-12 with 27 seconds to go in the second quarter.

“The second quarter we ran two offensive plays. Can’t score if you don’t have the ball,” Taylor said. “We kind of hit a lull. You come out and you’re excited, put up 29 quick ones, then you hit that lull. It’s high school football. You’re not going to keep a good team like Holyoke down forever. They have too good of a passing attack to not be successful in some point.”

After the Tigers’ forced Holyoke to punt early in the third quarter, Carey took a pitch to the sideline and cut back for a 64-yard touchdown to put the Tigers ahead by three scores.

“We had some momentum there at the start of the third quarter,” Dutsar said. “That’s just demoralizing.”

Carey scored again on South Hadley’s following drive with a 1-yard sweep run to put the Tigers ahead 42-14 with 2:50 to go in the third quarter.

The Purple Knights effectively moved the ball through the air in the fourth quarter. Consedine caught two touchdowns from Fernandez to close the gap, but a 53-yard touchdown run from Carey with 11:48 to go put the game out of reach.

Holyoke’s offense has been able to put up big numbers this season, but the program’s defense was an issue all year long.

“Defensively we have to find an identity,” Dutsar said. “We are only losing one senior that started all year, Jacob Swinehart, the rest should be back next year. We’ll see what happens with that. A year in the weight room, another year to mature, we’ll see what happens.”

Fernandez, a senior, is going to miss the bond that he and the rest of the Purple Knights have grown with each other the last few seasons.

“The locker room. Always having fun,” Fernandez. “There’s a bunch of characters on this team. It has made it fun. Even though we had tough losses, at the end of the day we work hard. The team will get better. It sucks that I’m leaving, I wish I had a couple more games.”

South Hadley fell to Leicester in the Division 7 state semifinals last Saturday. Part of what kept the Tigers ready for Thursday’s game was the team’s closeness and leadership.

“Max Garvin and Hunter Carey’s leadership were two steady forces throughout the year,” Taylor said. “They are both high academic kids and both excellent football players. When your hardest workers are also some of your best players, it breeds success throughout the program.”

“We probably have one of the smallest football teams around here,” Carey said. “It makes a great bond between us. We look after each and every guy. Doesn’t matter if he’s never played in a game or if it’s his 20th varsity game. We look after every guy. It has helped us throughout the season.”


South Hadley 50, Holyoke 26


South Hadley












First quarter

S—Hunter Carey 56 run (Harrison Baptiste kick), 10:52.

S—Kyle Johnson 59 run (Baptiste kick), 8:40

S—Safety, 6:25

S—Carey 8 run (Baptiste kick), 4:51

S—Carey 83 run (kick failed), 0:30

Second quarter

H—Gabriel Fernandez 1 run (run failed), 4:21

H—Aiden Consedine 9 pass from Fernandez (Fernandez run), 0:27

Third quarter

S—Carey 64 run (Baptiste kick), 7:44

S—Carey 1 run (Baptiste kick), 2:50

H—Conseidne 9 pass from Fernandez (pass failed), 0:21

Fourth quarter

S—Carey 53 run (Baptiste kick), 11:48

H—Consedine 18 pass from Fernandez (pass failed), 7:11

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


RUSHING—South Hadley–Carey 12-332, Tyrell Braithwaite 1-3, Johnson 2-70, Colin Mailhott 1-6, Shawn Mitchell 1-3. Holyoke–Fernandez 12-51, William Dumoulin 17-54

PASSING—South Hadley–Mitchell 0-2. Holyoke–Fernandez 17-26-181-1.

RECEIVING—Holyoke–Jael Cabrera 3-32, Scott Leary 5-55, Consedine 7-92, Dumoulin 1-9, Jacob Swineharrt 1-8.

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