Sunday September 16, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Jose Melendez knew he and his Drury teammates had work to do after a tough road loss at Athol to start the season.

The Blue Devils showed off the fruits of that labor on Saturday, helping Melendez to 120 yards on the ground in a 19-6 win at Taconic.

"[The offensive line doesn't] like to lose," Melendez said. "They're young and they hate that feeling. I hate that feeling. I tried motivating them. [Alex] Bush, we stepped up this week. We were doing a hell of a job in practice. They stepped up really big."

Melendez finished with two touchdowns, a 35-yard run on the ground and a 9-yard pass to Kareen Beckett. He had 70 yards by the end of the first quarter as he weaved his way through the Taconic defense. Bush added 21 yards on six carries, including a touchdown for Drury (1-1, 1-0 Berkshire County). He also picked up a sack and an interception on defense.

Melendez said his offensive line looked much improved from the unit that was beaten 33-6 the week before.

"I think they're confident," said Drury coach Bill Bryce. "They're starting to gel a little bit. They're developing themselves into what could be a good offensive line."

While Melendez was firing on all cylinders early, it took Taconic (1-1, 1-1) a little while to get going. Trayvon Sims struggled to find open space, with his first three runs going for negative yardage. He eventually ripped off two 30-yard runs to finish with 71 yards on the ground.


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Troy Ziter added 106 yards through the air, with most of that going to Jordan Barbarotta, who had 80 yards receiving.

The Braves couldn't seem to string big plays together, though. Ziter threw three interceptions, including one on the opening drive of the second half. That drive had begun with promise sparked by a 37-yard jog from Sims.

"We realized we can't take any plays off," Bush said. "[The big plays] gave us some more fire to come out and stuff them another time and not let them happen again."

Sims finally got Taconic on the board with a 12-yard scoring run early in the fourth. The Braves only got the ball once more. That drive lasted four plays and gained just six yards.

Taconic coach Vinny Barbarotta said his team just took too long to find an offensive rhythm.

"We started figuring them out a little bit and I was able to move the ball [in the second half]," Barbarotta said. "Why we didn't do that early? Who knows?"

To reach Christopher James:
cjames@berkshireeagle.com,
(413) 496-6252.
On Twitter: @BECJ2K.