ORANGE >> One team had barely missed the playoffs and the other made an early exit from the postseason last week, but playoff-style intensity prevailed Friday night when Mahar Regional School hosted Pittsfield High School at the Woodward Complex.
Pittsfield threw the last punch, converting fourth-and-7 at the Mahar 26 when Kolbe Muzzy threw a touchdown pass to Terrick Boire with 43.8 seconds left to give the Generals a 20-18 assigned-game victory over the Senators.
Muzzy, playing on a sore right ankle he injured late in the first half, stood in to loft the ball toward Boire on a post pattern. Boire made a terrific leaping catch at the back of the end zone, tightly covered by Mahar's Riley Gervais.
The Generals missed the two-point conversion pass and then weathered Mahar's last chance after the kickoff, as the Senators' Sam Paul completed three passes to get the ball to midfield. On the final play, with 3.3 seconds on the clock, Paul rolled to his right looking downfield, but the Generals' Sam Sala brought him down for the game-ending sack.
"We didn't get the job done last week, but we got the job done tonight, and that's all that matters to us," said Pittsfield coach Brian Jezewski. "(Muzzy) made a great throw, Terrick Boire made a tremendous catch — I don't think we called that play but one other time the entire season, and it got picked."
Mahar (7-3) rallied from a 14-6 deficit early in the fourth quarter, getting a 2-yard touchdown by Malik Adams with four minutes left. The Senators then benefited from a short Pittsfield punt to take over at the Generals' 35, and after gains of five and 11 yards by Adams plus a personal-foul call, Gervais took it in from 8 yards away with just 2:08 on the clock, putting Mahar ahead 18-14.
Pittsfield then began its game-winning drive from its own 37, getting a key 19-yard gain by Sala (23 carries, game-high 146 yards) and a 10-yard completion from Muzzy to Mason Papirio just before the deciding score.
"We held them for three downs deep in our own zone, and they were still able to get it done on fourth down," said Senators coach Greg Scotland. "It's disappointing. It was a great catch by him, he was well defended, and it just didn't happen for us."
Adams' 70 yards on 20 carries put him over 1,000 yards for the season, ending the night with 1,008. Mahar needed each and every yard, after Adams' running mate, Clay Richardson, left the game midway through the third quarter with an apparent left ankle injury. Richardson was hurt at the end of a 52-yard run and finished with a team-high 81 rushing yards, giving him 1,393.
The Generals broke on top late in the first quarter, finishing a 65-yard drive with a 16-yard TD pass from Muzzy to Papirio. Brian Rodriguez ran in the two-pointer for an 8-0 lead with 3:46 to play in the first. Pittsfield made that one-score edge hold up through the first half, although the Generals enjoyed a 170-43 edge in total offense over the first 20 minutes.
Pittsfield then lost a fumble at the Mahar 24 to start the third quarter, and the Senators flipped the field with a 76-yard drive, including Richardson's big gain. Gervais added a 17-yarder to bring the ball to the 3, and ran it in himself from the 2 a couple of plays later. Mahar tried a swinging-gate formation on the two-point try with a direct snap to Adams, but the Generals stopped him short to keep the game at 8-6 with 3:29 to go in the third.
With Sala carrying eight times for 46 yards, Pittsfield drove 70 yards in just under four minutes to expand its lead. Sala went in from the 3 on the second play of the fourth quarter, boosting the Generals into a 14-6 hold with 9:30 remaining.
"Our guys were disappointed last week, but I thought we dominated the game tonight," said Jezewski, who earned a postgame Gatorade-bucket dousing as his team wrapped its 7-3 campaign. "It's been the story of our season — we let them sneak back in. But we worked really hard, and I can't be prouder of our senior class."