NORTH ADAMS -- McCann senior captain Dylan Darling admitted that Saturday’s 47-12 win over Pioneer Valley meant a lot to him.
"Yeah," he said. "I’m a senior and it’s my last home game."
Darling trailed off, and then chuckled.
"Well," he said, "it’s my last regular season home game."
True. With Saturday’s win, the Hornets, 7-1, have clinched a home playoff game on Nov. 9, the first playoff home game in the program’s history.
"Yeah, it’s big deal," said McCann coach Bob LaClair. "Securing the home field represents a lot of work put in by these players. It’s very satisfying. I’m very happy for them."
Darling had a lot to do with the win. The senior rushed for a team-high 123 yards and a career-high three touchdowns.
"I’ve never scored three in a game," he said. "Last year, I only scored one all season."
Darling was aided and abetted by fullback Brett Pecor, who pounded out 112 yards on 12 carries, and quarterback Nick Lincoln, who passed for 88 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 23 yards and another score.
Their efforts offset a big afternoon by Pioneer quarterback Cole Tognorelli, who rushed for a game high 137 yards and passed for another 170. Most of those passing yards were to split end Alex Tyson, who had 15 receptions for 165 yards.
The Panthers pulled out all the stops Saturday. In addition to throwing 41 times, they punted only once all day, instead trying to convert fourth downs. They were successful five of nine times.
The Hornets didn’t punt much, either; they scored on four of their five first-half possessions and seven of their first eight overall.
Pioneer took the opening kickoff and moved the ball a little. But Levi Lawson picked off Tognorelli at the Panther 39. Eight plays later, Darling scored and it was 7-0.
The Panthers stalled, and Tognorelli was sacked at the Pioneer 28 on fourth and 1. Three plays later. Lincoln hit Lawson for 23 yards. 13-0.
Another interception by Lawson (who had three receptions from Lincoln and two from Tognorelli) at the McCann 32 started another drive. This one was seven plays long. Pecor’s 37-yard run was the big play. Lincoln punched over from the two and the score was 20-0.
Tognorelli, who had been struggling, picked it up at this point, hitting four consecutive passes, all to split end Alex Tyson. That covered 44 yards, with the last one a six-yard strike for the score.
But the Hornets were relentless. A five-play drive saw Lincoln run it in from nine yards out, and the home side led 28-6 at intermission.
Any fleeting hopes the visitors may have of coming back were squashed on the opening series of the second half. On second and three from the Pioneer 38, dalring burst up the middle for his second score of the day and it was 35-6.
After Lincoln hit Lewis for a 20-yard touchdown, Tognorelli capped a 10-play drive with a six-yard run. Darling’s 20-yard run was the final score.
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