PITTSFIELD >> Taconic showed no lingering effects of last week's tough loss to St. Mary's of Lynn, jumping ahead of Chicopee early and closing the game with a bang, leading to a 48-12 win on Saturday night at Wahconah Park.
The Braves (3-1, 1-0 Suburban North) had an impressive all-around performance, making splash plays in every aspect of the game. Anthony Whiteley led the offense with three first-half rushing touchdowns. Brandon Peaslee added a field goal and a kickoff return touchdown on a failed onside kick attempt. The Taconic defense held Chicopee's dynamic rusher Issaiah Jackson to just seven first-half rushing yards, setting the tone for the commanding victory.
"Coming back from last week we had a tough loss," Peaslee said. "Coach told us, make [Chicopee] not want to play us after we got [beat]. We wanted to show this team what we're about."
The Braves used a fast tempo to move the ball early, but their opening drive stalled on Chicopee's six-yard line. Taconic responded, forcing a punt on the Pacers' first drive, leading to three consecutive Whiteley scores.
A pick-six by Chicopee's Matt Swenor on a tipped pass from McNeice got the visitors on the board with 45 seconds left in the second half. They could not build on the positive play, however, as Taconic forced a turnover on downs on their first possession of the third quarter.
In the second half, everything Taconic called seemed to be working. McNeice found Walker for big gains down the sideline, and Zach Gage had a lot of success on end-around runs. McNeice hit Jack Cooney on a quick pass for a six-yard score to start the fourth, putting Taconic up 31-6. McNeice added a rushing touchdown on the next drive.
Whiteley had a team-high 96 yards rushing on 11 carries. Peaslee rushed for 61 yards on 10 carries, Gage had 74 yards on six carries and McNeice had 11 rushes for 56 yards. The senior signal caller went 10 of 13 for 142 yards through the air. Walker was the leading receiver with three catches for 60 yards.
Once the game was decided, Jackson finally found room to run. He broke off two 38-yards runs, and the latter went for a touchdown. But following the touchdown, a fumble on the two-point try led to a Nick Mancivalano scoop-and score, giving Taconic two points. On the ensuing kickoff, Peaslee scooped up an onside kick and ran 45 yards for six.
After allowing big plays last week, Taconic coach Jim Ziter said the defense really focused on cutting down the big gains this week. He said he liked how the entire team responded to the loss and performed well against the Pacers.
"All week we responded good, the whole team, even the JV's," he said. "We took the loss as a lesson. We re-focused Monday, had a great week of practice and it showed here tonight."
T — Anthony Whiteley 2 run (Devon Walker from Jake McNeice), 2:18
T — Whiteley 5 run (Brandon Peaslee kick), 9:04.
T — Whiteley 11 run (run failed), 4:08.
C — Matt Swenor 29 interception return (run failed), :45.2
T — Peaslee 39 kick, :00.
T — Cooney 6 pass from McNeice (Peaslee kick), 11:57.
T — McNeice 6 run (Peaslee kick), 6:14.
C — Issaiah Jackson 38 run, 4:00
T — Nick Mancivalano PAT fumble return.
T — Peaslee 45 kickoff return (Cedric Rose run), 3:50.
RUSHING — Chicopee: Kory Potter 10-26, Issaiah Jackson 22-117, Joe Morales 5-21, Matt Swenor 3-4. Taconic: Brandon Peaslee 10-61, Anthony Whiteley 11-96, Jake Galliher 5-7, Jake McNeice 11-56, Zach Gage 6-74, Cedric Rose 2-3.
PASSING: Chicopee: Swenor 2-5-0 31. Taconic: McNeice 10-13-1 142.
RECEIVING: Chicopee: Daniel Matta 1-10, Jackson 1-21. Taconic: Gage 2-28, Galliher 4-48, Devon Walker 3-60, Jack Cooney 1-6.
Contact Akeem Glaspie at 413-496-6252