PITTSFIELD -- All eyes were on the postseason on Saturday.
Hoosac Valley needed a win to solidify its position in the Western Massa chusetts Division II Super Bowl playoffs. St. Jo seph's, already comfortable in Division III, just wanted to leave the field healthy. Both teams got their wish in a 35-20 Hurricanes victory at Taconic High School.
"For playoffs, we're in or out if we win or lose," said Hoosac coach Dayne Poirot. "For playoffs, it's huge. It was important for us to come out of the half, come out [and] establish ourselves moving the ball. They handled the first half really well."
The Hurricanes (7-3) moved the ball with ease in the second half, getting five touchdowns from five different running backs to rally from a 13-0 halftime deficit in the Plus-One matchup. Hoosac's shortest score was a 13-yard run from Matt Braman in the third. They just got longer after that with most of St. Joe's starters resting comfortably on the bench.
"I got out of it just what I wanted to get out of it," said Crusaders coach Gary Bianchi. "We played a good solid one half of football, had a nice shutout going, controlled the tempo of the whole first half. I got out of it just what I wanted. Some dings and bings, but as soon as that happened I got paranoid. I wasn't going to let anybody get hurt."
The Crusaders (8-3) bookended the first half with their two touchdowns. Jon Bianchi ran in from four yards out on the opening drive before Lavante Wiggins got five of his 52 yards on a touchdown run with 24 seconds left. Both Bianchi and Tank Roberson, who had 96 yards rushing, took tumbles in the first half and had to miss plays. Neither saw significant time in the second.
That opened the door for the Hurricanes, who rolled to 331 yards on the ground. After Braman got Hoosac on the board, Colby Gage ripped off a 25-yard run to put the Hurricanes ahead. Tyler Mach extended the lead with a 67-yard run, second only to Blake Gaylord's 86-yard TD with 2:29 to play. Ian Hill added a 35-yard scoring jog to go with his five extra points.
"It was huge," Braman, who rushed for 50 yards, said of the win. "We came out pretty flat in the first half. I thought we played pretty decent in the second half. We definitely have to step it up for Western Mass. though."
The only hiccup in that 35-point second half for Hoosac was a 90-yard kickoff return score from Roberson. The senior said it sent a subtle message that St. Joe's had an extra punch it wasn't showing.
"I think that kickoff return really brought us back to life a little bit," Roberson said.
Both teams can now turn their full attention to the postseason which begins with semifinal games on Nov. 27.
"This was our goal, to get here," Gary Bianchi said. "Obviously, we'd like to be undefeated, but to get to these final two games and play on the turf [is the goal]."