WMass football: Amherst Regional crushes Easthampton in Division 5 semifinal

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  • Zayd Sadiq, center right, of Amherst Regional, returns a punt on run that would have scored against Easthampton, but there were penalties on the play that returned possession to Easthampton during the Western Massachusetts Division 5 semifinal, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. Landon Worgess, left, blocks Nathan Hogan. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Jacob Neumann, front, of Easthampton, carries the ball before being tackled by Landon Worgess, of Amherst Regional, during the Western Massachusetts Division 5 semifinal, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Liam Burke, center, of Easthampton, passes as Tom Dion, left, of Amherst Regional, approaches during the Western Massachusetts Division 5 semifinal, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. Daniel Dabek, right, eyes Dion. The pass was intercepted by JJ Block who advanced to the one-yard line and scored on the next play. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • JJ Block, of Amherst Regional, scores against Easthampton during the Western Massachusetts Division 5 semifinal, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • JB Mills, center, of Amherst Regional, is tackled by #58, of Easthampton, during the Western Massachusetts Division 5 semifinal, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. Owen Frenette, left, and Giancarlo Osiecki are in the background. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Pierre Tillus, top right, of Amherst Regional, runs for a gain before being tackled by Luke Kraus, of Easthampton, during the Western Massachusetts Division 5 semifinal, Friday at Amherst Regional High School. JJ Block, left, looks on. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Zayd Sadiq, left, of Amherst Regional, outpaces Giancarlo Osiecki, of Easthampton, to score, Friday. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Nathan Hogan, right, of Easthampton, punts, but his kick is blocked by Amherst Regional during the Western Massachusetts Division 5 semifinal, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Gabriel Kebede, top right, of Amherst Regional, celebrates his fumble recovery and touchdown against Easthampton with a group of teammates during the Western Massachusetts Division 5 semifinal, Friday at Amherst Regional High School. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • CJ Woodfine-Holmes, center, of Amherst Regional, is tackled by Keith Cudworth, of Easthampton, preventing a two-point conversion, during the Western Massachusetts Division 5 semifinal, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Marcus O'Meally, right, of Easthampton, carries the ball before being tackled by JJ Block, front, of Amherst Regional, during the Western Massachusetts Division 5 semifinal, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Tom Dion, left, of Amherst Regional, crosses the goal line as Marcus O'Meally, of Easthampton, approaches during the Western Massachusetts Division 5 semifinal, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • CJ Woodfine-Holmes, left, of Amherst Regional, keeps Connor Mott, of Easthampton, away during the Western Massachusetts Division 5 semifinal, Friday at Amherst Regional High School. He scored a touchdown on the run. Amherst won 55-8. Visit gazettenet.com for more photos and video. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Bennett Kelly, left, of Easthampton, carries the ball before being tackled by Antonio Govan, Jr., of Amherst Regional, during the Western Massachusetts Division 5 semifinal, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Pierre Tillus, center, of Amherst Regional, runs for a gain before being tackled by Jacob Neumann, of Easthampton, during the Western Massachusetts Division 5 semifinal, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. Antonio Govan, Jr., right, looks on. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • CJ Woodfine-Holmes, of Amherst Regional, scores a touchdown against Easthampton during the Western Massachusetts Division 5 semifinal, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019 at Amherst Regional High School. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Liam Burke, right, of Easthampton, runs before being tackled by JJ Block, of Amherst Regional, Friday at Amherst Regional. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 11/8/2019 11:39:34 PM

AMHERST — JJ Block strained for the goal line, spinning while he was tackled at the 1.

The Amherst Regional senior linebacker just snagged his first interception of the season and desperately wanted to turn it into a pick-six.

“I’ve had five chances to get an interception and each time I dropped it or tipped it to one of my teammates,” Block said. “This time, I can’t do that, I’ve got to catch it. I was pretty psyched and tried to get a touchdown, but that didn’t work.”

Block initially left the field because he doesn’t play as much on offense since he’s been recovering from a knee injury. The Hurricanes drew a 5-yard illegal substitution penalty because Amherst coach Chris Ehorn Jr. sent him back out to finish the job.

“He didn’t expect to be out there,” Ehorn said. “He was not expecting to carry it, and he was not asking to carry it.”

Ehorn gave him the carry anyway, and Block ran 6 yards to score.

“Once in a while getting the ball is alright,” Block said. “I wanted that one so bad.”

It was the third of seven first-half Amherst touchdowns, as the top-seeded Hurricanes beat No. 4 Easthampton, 55-8, in the Western Massachusetts Division 5 semifinals Friday.

Amherst (9-0) will face No. 2 West Springfield (7-2) next week after the Terriers beat No. 3 Northampton 40-7. The Hurricanes hadn’t won a playoff game since the 1999 Super Bowl despite appearing in the last two postseasons.

“We’ve been playing with each other for a long time, we made history twice just making it to the playoffs,” Block said. “Winning it finally is an awesome feeling.”

Amherst wasted little time. Easthampton (4-4) won the toss and deferred, putting the Hurricanes on offense first. J.B. Mills threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Shane Robles on a crossing route 1 minute, 53 seconds into the game. Mills threw five touchdowns in the first half and went 7-for-10 for 142 yards.

Two of those went to sophomore Zayd Sadiq. He tossed a swing pass on Amherst’s next drive, and Sadiq ran away from the defense. It was the next play after Sadiq thought he had a punt return touchdown, but the score was called back for a block in the back.

“I really wanted the ball,” Sadiq said.

The other came with 37 second left in the first quarter. Mills threw Sadiq a slant, and he broke a tackle to run 14 yards into the end zone and give Amherst a 27-0 lead. The Hurricanes attempted extra points on seven of their eight touchdowns, and Robles made five. Amherst typically goes for the two-point conversion after scoring but went another direction against the Eagles.

“It was just part of the game plan,” Ehorn said.

Amherst scored two touchdowns on special teams in the second quarter. Gabe Kebede recovered a blocked punt in the end zone with 10:07 to halftime, and CJ Woodfine-Holmes returned a punt 38 yards to score with 3:12 left.

“We were able to score in a variety of ways, and you can’t ask for more than that,” Ehorn said.

In between, Mills found Tom Dion for a 10-yard score that Dion needed every inch of reach to haul in. Amherst led 48-0 at halftime. The Eagles lost 2 yards on offense in the first half because the Hurricanes stopped so many of their runs for negative yardage.

“Our defense is lock down. Every single position, everyone is locked in,” Block said. “We put a lot of work in, and it shows up.”

The teams played the second half with a running clock since Amherst’s lead was greater than 42, but the Eagles didn’t lay down. Jacob Neumann (36 yards) burst for a 22-yard run on Easthampton’s third play of the third quarter, and he caught a 16-yard pass to put Easthampton on the board with 3:45 left in the third.

“It was good for the kids (to score),” Easthampton coach Matt Bean said. “We’ve got to learn what it takes to do this. Losing to a team playing like this, you learn from it and you see how good teams go about their business.”

Amherst senior Tony Govan closed the scoring with a 19-yard touchdown run with 8:25 left. Six backs carried the ball for the Hurricanes, gaining 118 yards.

The Hurricanes didn’t play West Springfield (7-2) during the regular season but faced the Terriers two years ago in the first round. That year West Springfield finished runner-up in the state.

“For the past three seasons, we’ve been hearing about everybody else in the Western Mass. championship,” Ehorn said. “For us to be able to get this win at home and be in the Western Mass. championship going against a great team, we’re very excited.”

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

Amherst Regional 55, Easthampton 8

Easthampton

0

0

8

0

—8

Amherst Regional

27

21

0

7

—55

First quarter

A—Shane Robles 10 pass from J.B. Mills (Kick failed), 10:07.

A—Zayd Sadiq 59 pass from Mills (Josh Vecchio run), 8:06.

A—JJ Block 6 run (Robles kick), 6:33.

A—Sadiq 14 pass from Mills (Kick failed), :37.

Second quarter

A—Gabe Kebede blocked punt recovery in end zone (Robles kick), 10:16.

A—Tom Dion 10 pass from Mills (Robles kick), 5:41.

A—CJ Woodfine-Holmes 38 punt return (Robles kick), 3:12.

Third quarter

E—Jacob Neumann 16 pass from Liam Burke (Neumann run), 3:45.

Fourth quarter

A—Tony Govan 19 run (Robles kick), 8:25.

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING—Amherst Regional–Pierre Tillus 5-39, Woodfine-Holmes 2-23, Govan 3-20, Josh Vecchio 1-20, Ethan Howard 2-10, Block 1-6, Mills 1-(-8). Easthampton-Neumann 11-36, Marcus O’Meally 6-15, Bennett Kelly, 8-11, Keith Cudworth 1-8, Burke 5-(-13).

PASSING—Amherst Regional–Mills7-10-142-0. Easthampton–Burke 3-10-44-2.

RECEIVING—Amherst Regional–Sadiq 2-73, Woodfine-Holmes 3-39, Robles 1-10, Dion 1-10. Easthampton-Nathan Hogan 1-19, Neumann 1-16, O’Meally 1-9.




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