NORTH ADAMS >> Sixteen seconds into Saturday's Intercounty West football showdown, there were all smiles on the McCann Tech bench. Running an opening kickoff back for a touchdown will do that.
Unfortunately for the Hornets, those smiles were gone 15 seconds later.
Just after Dakota Bolte returned the opening kickoff 85 yards for a score, Mohawk Trail's Alex Shippee ran the next kickoff back 65 yards for the go-ahead score, and the Warriors never looked back in a 38-21 win.
"I take the opening kickoff back and everybody's happy and hyped. The next thing you know they do it. They return the favor," Bolte said. "That's almost like a 'DK,' drive killer. Your heart goes from fully filled with happiness to wow, this just got real.
"It really takes a lot out of you."
Once Shippee scored on the kickoff return, it became a very long afternoon for the Hornets (1-4, 0-2), who were outgained 292 yards to 209. But the Warriors (3-2, 2-1) ran the ball 55 times and had 56 offensive plays to just 37 offensive plays for the Hornets.
Mohawk, coached by Doug McCloud, runs the rarely-seen Double Wing formation, with all three backs in tight — one behind the quarterback and two at the edge of the offensive line.
With the Double Wing, you oftentimes know what's coming and where, but on Saturday, the Warriors kept pounding the Hornet defensive line and while the Hornets bent a lot, they did break, too.
Jonny Herbert ran the ball on 22 of Mohawk's 55 carries for 151 yards and three touchdowns. He scored on runs of 44 and nine yards in the second quarter, and put an exclamation point on the win with a 19-yard touchdown run in the fourth. The 44-yard run was the longest run from scrimmage by a Mohawk back in the game.
"We have been playing against it for years. They execute it very well," McCann coach Bob LeClair said of the Double Wing. "It grinds you and grinds you. The little guy finds a hole, and there it goes."
Mohawk went up two scores when Warriors corner Ryan Walker picked off a pass by McCann sophomore quarterback Justin Meczywor at the Hornet 18 yard line. Three plays later, Shippee made it 14-7 on a six-yard run. The two-point conversion, good on the first touchdown, failed.
Both teams settled in to a bit of a defensive struggle until Bolte shanked a punt that traveled five yards and gave Mohawk a first-down on the McCann 47. Two plays later, Herbert took a pitch from quarterback Kamron Hoff, cut up the middle and outsprinted the McCann defense to the end zone for a 44-yard touchdown run.
Herbert's nine-yard TD run with 1:37 left made it 26-7, and the day was done. Not so fast, because on the next series, Bolte ran a post pattern, Meczywor hit him in stride, and it was a 44-yard touchdown.
Any hopes the Hornets harbored of being close at halftime were dashed when Shippee took the next kickoff 85 yards for a back-breaking touchdown.
"They're decimated with injuries and stuff," McCloud said of McCann. "We just played hard today. We took care of the ball. We didn't fumble the ball. We were blocking and we were getting positive yards on almost every play.
"We run power football."
For the Hornets, there won't be much time to put salve on the wounds suffered Saturday. In seven days, they'll face Drury in the unofficial North Adams championship.
McC—Dakota Bolte 85 kickoff return (Cody Jordan kick), 10:44.
Moh—Alex Shippee 65 kickoff return (Mason Biagini run), 10:29.
Moh—Shippee 6 run (Pass failed).
Moh—Jonny Herbert 44 run (Pass failed), 5:51.
Moh—Herbert 9 run (Run failed), 1:37.
McC—Bolte 44 pass from Justin Meczywor (Jordan kick), :30.
Moh—Shippee 85 kickoff return (Run failed), :15.
McC—Bolte 78 run (Jordan kick), 8:44.
Moh—Herbert 19 run (Run failed), 3:36.
RUSHING—McCann: Dakota Bolte 10-76, Corbin Richardson 2-6, Justin Meczywor 4-16, Zavier Martin-Levesque 1-(minus-2), Mason Field 1-2. Mohawk: Jordan Grenier 19-97, Jonny Herbert 22-151, Mason Biagini 5-12, Alex Shippee 6-28, Kamron Hoff 3-4.
PASSING—McCann: Meczywor 8-19-4 111. Mohawk: Hoff 0-1-1 0.
RECEIVING—McCann: Martin-Levesque 1-43, Bolte 3-60, Richardson 2-2, Stockman 2-45.
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.