DALTON -- As the final seconds ticked off the scoreboard, it started to sink in for the members of the Mount Greylock football team that they had just accomplished something very special.
The Mounties rallied from a 10-point deficit and held Wahconah Regional scoreless in the second half to beat the Warriors 22-16 Wednesday night. The win gave the Mounties their third consecutive Berkshire County championship
“The old cliché is that you can't put it into words, and you really can't. It's just the happiest I've ever been in my life,” said Greylock's Rob Buffis. “It's the biggest thing we've accomplished together.”
The Mounties, whose 33-game winning streak ended at the hands of the Warriors in Williamstown back on Oct. 26, earned a measure of revenge with the win. The win also keeps the championship trophy in Williamstown, possibly forever, as next year's state playoff system might erase the game.
But for this night, the Mounties were really happy to hang on to the trophy. Brett McCormack didn't want to let go of it.
“No, no,” he said. “It's awesome. It's crazy. It just feels so good to be a part of this great tradition at Greylock. It's awesome. It's the best feeling in the world right now.”
Ethan Ryan, who was held to 99 yards and one touchdown when these teams played the first time, cracked the 100-yard mark by halftime. He finished with 155 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns, including the game winner in the third quarter. Ryan left the game two plays into Greylock's first drive of the fourth quarter with a cramp. He did not return.
Tyrell Thomas' 65-yard kickoff return for a touchdown after Wahconah went up 16-6 gave the Mounties a much-needed boost. The Mounties shut out Wahconah in the second half.
“Give credit to them. They ran their defense. They played a little more press coverage on us as far as receivers,” said Wahconah coach Gary Campbell Jr. “They got after our quarterback better. I don't think they put our quarterback on the ground as much the last time.”
Wahconah quarterback Lane Grogan was sacked four times and pressured on several other occasions. Grogan was 6 of 9 throwing in the first half but only 3 of 11 in the second half.
“We've been working on a new way to get pressure on him that Coach [Shawn] Flaherty drew up,” said Buffis, who plays linebacker in the Greylock 5-2 defense. “It's good coaching and good support by our D-linemen to get in there.”
Wahconah nearly took command of this game in the second quarter.
Trailing 6-0, the Warriors got a strip sack of Greylock quarterback Brodie Altiere by a blitzing Wahconah linebacker Ethan Wells and the Warriors recovered. On the next play, Wells burst through a hole and ran 38 yards to the Greylock two. Mike McCormack was in the right place at the right time because on the next carry, Wells fumbled into the end zone, and McCormack recovered for the touchback.
Instead of taking advantage of the turnover, Greylock went three-and-out, and a 13-yard punt gave Wahconah life at the Mounties' 30.
Four plays later, Grogan hit Darrow Brown streaking down the right sideline for a 16-yard touchdown. Jordan Fiske caught the conversion, giving Wahconah an 8-6 lead.
On the ensuing kickoff, Eric Leitch fumbled and Quinn Caesar recovered at the Greylock 30. On the fifth play of the drive, Grogan and Fiske hooked up on a 15-yard TD pass. Wells ran in the conversion. Now, it was 16-6, and the Mounties were reeling.
Enter Thomas. The junior who is playing his first year of football, took the short kick at his own 35. He took off, broke containment and went the distance for the first touchdown of his football career.
“I've had other touchdowns, but something always happened. They got called back, or I was a couple of inches short,” Thomas said. “It was about time. It was the best game to actually get a touchdown.”
“I felt like we were losing them. You talk. You can say what you want to say, but nothing makes up for it like a big play,” said Flaherty. “Tyrell really bailed us out.”
Wahconah took a 16-14 lead into the locker room at halftime. The Warriors took the second half kickoff and stalled immediately. A 27-yard punt gave the Mounties the ball at the Wahconah 44-yard line.
Ryan carried the ball on four of the five plays needed to score the go-ahead touchdown. The big gain was a 18-yard run on a pitch to the right side that gave the Mounties the ball on the Wahconah four. Ryan went in on the next play and got the conversion, putting the Mounties up 22-16.
“That was a big momentum swing, obviously,” said Ryan, who gained 39 yards on the 44-yard drive.
The Warriors had one more good scoring chance in the third quarter. After Ryan's touchdown, Wahconah marched from its 32 and got as close as the Greylock 22. The Warriors converted one third down and got a big 12-yard scramble run by Grogan on fourth down at the Greylock 37. The drive stalled and Grogan's fourth-down pass was batted down by Daivon Clement. That proved to be Wahconah's last real chance to score.
Both teams, however, are moving on to the Super Bowl Tournament. The Mounties will likely play Greenfield on Tuesday, while Wahconah will lick its wounds, get back to work and play Hoosac Valley on Tuesday.
“I told the kids that if they want to win, they have to come back on Friday and get after it in practice,” said Campbell, “and get after Hoosac on Tuesday.
“This one hurts. Let's face it. You never want to lose on your home field. It hurts for the seniors because they never get to get that back. This is going to sting.”
Mount Greylock 6 8 8 0 -- 22
Wahconah 0 16 0 0 -- 16
MG--Ethan Ryan 1 run (Pass failed), 7:04.
W--Darrow Brown 16 pass from Lane Grogan (Jordan Fiske pass from Grogan), 3:56.
W--Fiske 15 pass from Grogan (Ethan Wells run), 1:25.
MG--Tyrell Thomas 65 kickoff return (Ryan run), 1:13.
MG--Ryan 4 run (Ryan run), 6:48.
First Downs 13 10
Rushes-yards 29-143 35-194
Passing yards 14 93
Comp-Att-Int 1-4-0 9-20-0
Penalties-yards 6-40 3-20
RUSHING-- Wahconah: Lane Grogan 16-60, Darrow Brown 4-(minus-3), Ethan Wells 9-86. Greylock: Ethan Ryan 21-155, Brodie Altiere 2-5, Daivon Clement 5-14, Eric Leitch 1-12, Mike McCormack 6-8.
PASSING -- Wahconah: Grogan 9-20-0 93. Greylock: Altiere 1-4-0 14.
RECEIVING -- Wahconah: Codi Arthur 1-4, Jordan Fiske 4-51, Brown 4-33. Greylock: Tyrell Thomas 1-14.