SPRINGFIELD -- It is an old football axiom that teams improve the most from their first to their second games. If that turns out to be true for Mount Greylock, the Mounties could once again be heard from in November and December.
Daivon Clement rushed for a career-best 167 yards on 33 carries and scored all 26 of the Mounties’ points in a 26-8 season-opening win over Commerce Friday at Central High School’s Berte Field.
"It’s definitely a better feeling walking off a winner. It’s definitely easier to clean things up," said Greylock’s Robbie Buffis. "We played well today, but there’s obviously some stuff that we can work on. I think we’re going to improve and get better week-by-week."
Greylock coach Shawn Flaherty, who was forced to use a first-quarter time out to settle his defense down during a Commerce drive, was pretty happy with the way things ended up. It also will give him a chance to do some teaching between now and the Mounties’ next game Thursday against Monument Mountain.
"Commerce is a tough football team, they really are," said Flaherty. "The score was not indicative of how the game was played. You knew they have athletes and they played extremely tough. I’m very proud of our guys. We went through some growing pains tonight. I’m especially proud how they finished."
The game also turned out to be somewhat of a coming-out party for senior running back Daivon Clement. Clement, who is stepping in for 2,000-yard runner Ethan Ryan, said he was fairly pleased with how he performed. The optimal word is "fairly."
"I ran all right. I could have done a lot better," he said. "I fumbled the ball three times which is not good. I have to keep both hands on the ball, keep running hard and keep my head low."
Clement lost two of those three fumbles, but the Greylock defense kept those turnovers from meaning anything. The Mounties held the Red Raiders to 120 total yards and only 6 yards rushing. The only touchdown of the game for Commerce came on Nasir Thomas’ 75-yard kickoff return in the second quarter.
The Mounties outgained the Red Raiders 249 yards to 120, and allowed the home team to run off only 15 plays in the second half.
Greylock wasn’t perfect in its opener, but coaches and players all agree that it’s easier to have teaching moments after a win like this than after a loss.
Commerce running back D’Vonte Sewell led the Red Raiders with 45 yards rushing on 11 carries while quarterback Marque Gibson was 9 for 18 for 114 yards and a fourth-quarter interception by Robbie Buffis.
The Mounties took the opening kickoff at their 45 and proceeded to march 55 yards on 10 plays, even overcoming a holding call to score the first touchdown of the season. Clement touched the ball eight times in those first 10 plays, twice running for first downs on third-down plays. The touchdown came when he took a pitch from Brodie Altiere and ran around the right side from 7 yards out with 6:17 left in the quarter. Clement could not punch in the conversion, and Greylock led 7-0.
The Red Raiders took the kickoff to their 20 and moved to the Greylock 31 in five plays. However, Commerce lost 21 yards on the next three plays and a botched punt snap cost the Raiders 16 more. Greylock took over on the Red Raider 32.
Six plays later, Clement scored on an identical 7-yard run. A failed PAT pass made it 12-0.
The ensuing kickoff went the distance, and a two-point pass from Gibson to Thomas made the score 12-8.
On Greylock’s next two series, Clement coughed up the ball and the Red Raiders recovered twice. Both times, the Mountie defense came up big, stopping Commerce cold.
Clement returned a 24-yard punt 22 yards to the Commerce 27. Four plays later, he scored on a 1-yard run and ran in the conversion to make it 20-8. The key play of the drive was a nice 22-yard pass from Altiere to Michael McCormack.
Back to Clement. The senior has big shoes to fill with the graduation of All-Eagle MVP Ethan Ryan. But Clement ran for 99 yards in the first half and his performance told Berkshire County that he’d be a force to be reckoned with.
"He really had to be the workhorse. I thought he did a great job," Greylock coach Shawn Flaherty said. "He put the ball on the turf and it gets into your head. But when we needed it, he pounded it hard and he really ran hard."
Greylock 6 14 0 6 -- 26
Commerce 0 8 0 0 -- 8
MG-Daivon Clement 7 run (run failed), 6:27.
MG-Clement 7 run (Pass failed), 10:31.
Comm-Nasir Thomas 75 KO return (Thomas pass from Marque Gibson), 10:18.
MG-Clement 1 run (Clement run), 2:03.
MG-Clement 7 run (Run failed).
First Downs 13 8
Rushes-yards 39-189 19-6
Passing yards 60 112
Comp-Att-Int 3-4-0 9-18-1
Punts-Avg. 0-0 2-17.5
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 0-0
Penalties-Yards 4-30 7-55
RUSHING -- Greylock: Daivon Clement 33-167, Colby Masse 2-11, Brodie Altiere 4-21. Commerce: D’Vonte Sewell 11-45, Marque Gibson 6-(minus 19), Reynoldo Figueroa 1-(minus 16), Marvin Lovett 1-(minus 4).
PASSING -- Greylock: Altiere 4-7-0 60. Commerce: Gibson 9-18-1 112.
RECEIVING -- Greylock: Clement 1-9, Masse 1-9, Michael McCormack 1-22, Robbie Buffis 1-20. Commerce: Nasir Thomas 3-60, Lovett 3-27, Sewell 2-21, Nicolas Perry 1-6.