NORTH ADAMS >> The Pioneer Valley football team came into its game against Drury with 19 players. The Panthers left North Adams with 18 healthy players, but the short-handed visitors did not sulk after losing their starting quarterback Scott Perlberg midway through the first quarter. In fact, backup Alex Tyson entered and used his dual-threat ability to lead Pioneer Valley to 28-6 win over the Blue Devils on Saturday.
First-year coach Paul Worth was visibly emotional when addressing his players postgame. Worth was out of coaching for the last two year after spending 35 years at the former North Shore Tech (now Essex Tech). He said the toughness his players showed made him proud to return to the sidelines.
"I came out here and grabbed a bunch of kids that make me proud to coach," he said. "That was guts today. Nineteen kids, and we only played 11 at the end. It was a tough game, but they played really, really tough."
Tyson threw for two touchdowns and used his legs to extend plays when in trouble. He hit Jake Wallace for a five-yard score late in the second quarter, putting the Panthers up 14-0. Drury's Jamal Beda looked as if he gave the Blue Devils a response with a long kickoff return to the Pioneer 30, but on next play Pioneer sacked quarterback Obilio Rodriguez, forcing a fumble and a turnover back on their own 46 yard line. Tyson finished with 111 yards passing, 46 yards rushing, two catches for 28 yards and added three interceptions as a defensive back.
Tyson said watching film during the week helped him be in position to make plays in the secondary.
"When we were watching film, when they were in trips they only throw the wheel or even a fade out of it," he said. "Most of the time they threw tosses and we were able to execute."
Tyson's final two interceptions were big blows to Drury. The second came on third down late in the third quarter, and the final came on fourth down with Drury in the redzone.
With only 19 players on the team, Tyson rarely came off the field, but he said his teammates' support gave him all the energy he needed to keep going.
"I was feeding off of them," he said. "Every time they made a good block, every time they made a good tackle, I feed off of them. They don't feed off me, I don't need that from them, I just need them to work me up."
Beda was Drury's main source of offense. After Pioneer Valley failed to convert a fourth down on Drury's 24-yard line, Beda took a handoff, rumbled through the middle of the defense and burst down the left sideline for a 76-yard touchdown. Drury recovered a pop-up kick on the ensuing kickoff, but Tyson intercepted Rodriguez two plays later. Beda added a 37-yard run in the fourth quarter, taking the handoff right and cutting back left for the big gain. Beda finished with 146 yards on 14 carries.
The Blue Devils showed some positive signs on offense, but penalties and missed assignments prevented them from generating consistent offense. One glaring penalty from Drury was an offensive pass interference call that negated a 60-yard touchdown reception by Hayden Bird. Drury coach Seth Shepard said his team must work on improving the little things in addition to shoring up the penalties.
"You go back and look at the film and there's a lot more holes than those [penalized] plays," he said. "We had a couple good plays, popped a couple good things, but we came a little short with some flags a few times. We didn't tackle very well today. ... Just a lot of missed assignments and we didn't come ready to play like we should have."
P — Scott Perlberg 1 run (Wyatt Keith kick), 6:30.
P — Jake Wallace 5 pass from Alex Tyson (Keith kick), 4:27.
D — Jamal Beda 76 run (run failed), :26.2.
P — T. Dresser 64 run (Keith kick), 7:57.
P — Tyson 16 run (Keith kick), 10:02.
First Downs 12 3
Rushes-yards 36-202 23-139
Comp-att-int 10-17-0 1-4-3
Penalties-yards 6-45 5-50
RUSHING — Pioneer: Terrell Hicks 9-27, Joshua Baker 7-21, Jake Wallace 2-6, Scott Perlberg 1-4, T. Dresser 8-99, Alex Tyson 8-46, Wyatt Keith 1-(minus 1). Drury: Thaylen Harrsion 8-9, Jamal Beda 14-146, Obilio Rodriguez 1-(minus 16).
PASSING — Pioneer: Scott Perlberg 4-4-0 52, Tyson 6-13-0 111. Drury: Rodriguez 1-4-3 11.
RECEIVING — Pioneer: Wallace 7-130m Tyson 2-28, Dresser 1-5. Drury: Hayden Bird 1-11.
Contact Akeem Glaspie at 413-496-6252