South Hadley football seizes opportunities in win at Chicopee

  • South Hadley’s Owen Dawson runs against CHicopee at Szot Park on Thurday. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI—

  • South Hadley’s Brady Currier congratulates Brock Fitzell after his first quarter touchdown run against Chicopee at Szot Park on Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/KYLE GRABOWSKI

  • South Hadley’s Owen Dawson, left, and Owen Piquette celebrate Piquette’s touchdown run against Chicopee at Szot Park on Thursday. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI—

  • South Hadley’s Evan Piquette catches a 90-yard touchdown pass against Chicopee at Szot Park on Thursday. GAZETTE STAFF / KYLE GRABOWSKI—

Staff Writer
Published: 9/30/2021 10:11:47 PM

CHICOPEE – After fumbling on its opening possession, only the halftime buzzer stopped the South Hadley football team in a 42-6 win over Chicopee on Thursday at Szot Park. 

The Tigers scored touchdowns on six of their eight possessions.

“When we watched film, there were missed opportunities. We could be 3-1 right now,” South Hadley coach Scott Taylor said. “I think they took everything that they needed to do tonight to be successful.”

They won the coin toss then deferred to the second half, giving the Pacers the ball first. South Hadley (1-3) forced a three and out then a short punt, but fumbled the ball three plays later. The Tigers defense forced another three and out, then the offense went to work. 

Brock Fitzell capped a seven-play drive with a six-yard scoring run that made it 8-0 with 2 minutes, 25 seconds left in the first quarter. The Tigers then recovered an onside kick, and six plays later Evan Piquette rumbled in for a six-yard score.

“It doesn’t happen much, but when it happens you’ve got to make the most of it,” Piquette said. “This was important, we really needed this.”

He reached the end zone three times against the Pacers and had nearly 200 yards from scrimmage (97 rushing and 90 receiving).

Chicopee found some offensive traction with a 38-yard pass from Jason Lee Lozado to Nathan Serrano. Two plays later, South Hadley’s Brady Currier intercepted Lozado at the 10.

South Hadley capitalized immediately. Sophomore quarterback Noah Marion found Piquette wide open up the middle of the field for a 90-yard touchdown pass. It was Marion’s first career start replacing an injured James Harberer. He completed both passes he threw and was 2-of-2 for 105 yards.

“His father was a quarterback for South Hadley. He’s carrying on a tradition in the Marion family,” Taylor said. “It’s nice to see he comes from good genes.”

Marion didn’t have to do much because the Tigers ground game and defense carried the weight of the game. Dylan Cousineau finished with two sacks, including one on fourth down that ended Chicopee’s last drive of the first half. South Hadley kneeled to send the game to halftime.

The Tigers received the second half kickoff, and Owen Dawson capped the drive with a 25-yard touchdown run. He gained 92 yards on the ground on just 10 carries.

“That’s what we do, that’s the basis of our offensive philosophy to give it to four or five different guys,” Taylor said. “We want everybody part of it, and that way everybody’s engaged.”

The Pacers went three and out then punted from their own end zone after strong South Hadley kickoff coverage put them in dangerous territory from the start. Dawson returned the ensuing punt back for a touchdown, but it was called back for an illegal block. Piquette scored his second rushing touchdown two plays later

Lozado’s arm produced Chicopee’s only score on the next drive, finding Johnathon Escalera for an 18-yard score with 7.1 seconds remaining in the third quarter. That made it 36-6 to start the fourth quarter, and the 30-point margin triggered a running clock in the fourth.

South Hadley held the ball the whole time, and Colin Mailhot closed the game out in the final two minutes with a three-yard score. The Tigers didn’t even need to attempt an extra point, as a taunting penalty on the touchdown and the resulting confusion drained the rest of the game clock.

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.

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