WMass football: Hunter Carey powers South Hadley past Wahconah in Division 7 semifinal

For the Gazette
Published: 11/8/2019 10:54:57 PM
Modified: 11/8/2019 10:54:44 PM

SOUTH HADLEY — Hunter Carey’s huge second half led the South Hadley football team to a 33-14 win over Wahconah in the Western Massachusetts Division 7 semifinal, Friday night.

Carey ran for 199 yards in the second half and finished with 224 yards on 21 carries and four touchdowns.

“When you have somebody like Hunter, you give him the ball,” South Hadley coach Scott Taylor said. “It’s amazing how good coaches are when we have really great players. Hunter’s abilities set things up for everybody else. That’s the beautiful thing about our offense is that if you focus on one guy, then you leave somebody else open.”

The win avenged a 32-point loss to the Warriors in last season’s Division 7 championship.

South Hadley (7-2) advances to face Chicopee (7-2) in the final next week. The Pacers beat Frontier Regional, 26-8, in the other semifinal.

South Hadley beat Chicopee, 31-14, on Sept. 27. Carey did not play in that game due to injury.

“Great team effort,” Carey said of the semifinal win. “We emphasized in practice every day that the tougher team was going to win. Offensively, our running backs ran really hard. It was really all up to the (offensive) line in this win.”

After forcing a four-and-out on Wahconah’s first drive, the Tigers took over at the Warriors’ 37-yard line. From there, Carey capped an eight-play drive with a 3-yard touchdown run to put South Hadley up 7-0.

After consecutive punts by both teams, the Warriors pieced together a 14-play drive that ended with quarterback Quinn Gallagher finding Tom O’Connor for the touchdown. Gallagher tried to run in the two-point conversion but was stopped short, keeping the Tigers up 7-6. The score remained the same at halftime.

In the second half, Carey took over. After being limited to just four carries for 25 yards in the first half, Carey opened the second with a 36-yard run, a precursor for what was to come. Carey capped off the drive with a 6-yard rushing touchdown to put South Hadley up 14-6.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Tigers forced and recovered a fumble to regain possession at Wahconah’s 46-yard line.

Carey capped a seven-play drive with a 9-yard carry for the score. South Hadley attempted to go for two but was stopped short, making the score 20-6 with 5:57 remaining in the third quarter.

On the other end, Gallagher strung together an 11-play possession that saw him complete three passes for 33 yards and rush six times for 27 yards. Gallagher kept it himself on the last play, running 5 yards for the touchdown. Gallagher connected with O’Connor in the corner of the end zone for the conversion, pulling the Warriors within 20-14 with 37 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

The Tigers found the end zone on their next possession when Collin Mailhott ran 6 yards for the score. The extra point attempt hit off the post and was no good, leaving South Hadley with a 26-14 lead with 8:51 remaining in the game.

After turning the Warriors over on downs, the Tigers put the ball in Carey’s hands. He ran the ball on five of their eight plays on a drive that ended with Carey running 6 yards for the end zone, icing the game for South Hadley.

The senior was involved in 17 of the Tigers’ 29 plays in the second half.

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