WEST SPRINGFIELD >> In a game featuring two high-powered passing attacks, Wahconah turned to its linemen to open running holes and pressure West Springfield quarterback Tylor Rochefort. The constant pressure never allowed the Terriers to gain rhythm on offense, giving Wahconah a 29-14 win at Clark Field on Friday.
The Warriors, No. 7 in the Western Mass. media poll, established the tone early, getting two rushing touchdowns in the first half. After No. 6 West Side took a 14-7 lead on 50-yard touchdown run from Vaunell Hill, Will Genaway capped a 12-play drive with a one-yard quarterback sneak, bringing the visitors within one with 2 minutes and 31 seconds left in the half.
Even with an accurate kicker in Patrick Butler, coach Gary Campbell Jr. opted to go for the lead, using a Tanner Hastings run up the middle for a successful two-point conversion. They took a 15-14 advantage into halftime and never relinquished the lead.
"It was an attitude thing," Campbell Jr., said on the decision to go for two. "Definitely one of those things where you're in somebody else's place and at some point you've got to make a move. I thought at that time it would've been a nice key move if we got and we did.
"It puts a little pressure [on them] when you see you're behind at half. It's different than seeing you're even."
In the second half, the Wahconah defense answered every challenge the Terriers presented, coming up with several fourth-down stops. In the third quarter, the teams exchanged lost fumbles before West Side took over on its own 20. Rochefort finally got time to throw, hitting Billy McQuade and Cam Paier for first-down completions of 17 and 8, respectively. They moved the ball to the Wahconah 42, setting up a fourth and one, but defensive end Matt Cedar burst through the line, dropping Kyle Beane for a five-yard loss.
Two plays later, Genaway faked a handoff to the running back and sprinted 51 yards untouched into the endzone. The long play was the nail in coffin for West Side, allowing Wahconah to pin its ears back and attack on defense.
"I just saw a huge hole open up and it was great blocking by my teammates," Genaway said. "I can trust them to open up a hole, I can hit it hard and hope for the best."
The Warriors forced three-and-outs on West Side's next two possessions. They got the ball on their own 36 early in the fourth and used three straight Connor Washburn jet sweeps to gain a first down. Connor Noyes ran for eight yards on fourth down, as a tired Terrior defense could not get off the field. Washburn and Hastings broke off long runs, getting the ball to the West Springfield six, setting up a touchdown pass from Genaway to Tom Burris on a well-executed fade route with Burris snatching the ball out of the air at it highest point with 6:06 left in the game.
Cedar helped ice the game with two sacks on West Sides final drive. Campbell credited the entire defense for holding the Terriers to just 234 total yards. Cedar, Chris Acevedo, Dawson Larochelle and Matt Emerson used their burst off the line to wreck havoc on Rochefort.
"It's the most important thing you can get," Cedar said of generating pressure. "When you get pressure off the end it makes the quarterback unaware, he starts scrambling, we get to the ball and we win."
After the game, the Warriors broke the huddle with a "PHS" chant. Genaway said the team will enjoy the win tonight, but they're looking forward to facing the rival Generals next week.
W — Tanner Hastings 11 run (Patrick Butler kick), 5:18.
WS — Vaunell Hill 7 run (Jack LaBranche kick), 11:03.
WS — Hill 50 run (LaBranche kick), 9:10.
W — Will Genaway 1 run (Hastings run), 2:31.
Genaway 50 run (Butler kick), 4:09.
W — Tom Burris 6 pass from Genaway (Butler kick), 6:06.