Photo Gallery | Taconic beats Hoosac Valley in football
CHESHIRE >> Taconic used its speed on the perimeter to generate consistent offense against Hoosac Valley, defeating the Hurricanes 39-14 on Saturday.
Instead of pounding running back Anthony Whiteley up the middle against a stout Hoosac front seven, the No. 4 Braves (4-1, 2-0 Suburban North) used wingbacks Jake Galliher and Zach Gage to stretch the 'Canes horizontally. The jet sweeps opened up the play-action pass for quarterback Jake McNeice, and senior signal caller went to the air for 179 yards and two scores. Devon Walker led the way with three catches for 94 yards and a score.
Trailing 8-7, McNeice hit Gage for a 33-yard touchdown with 1 minute and 20 seconds left in the first quarter, giving the visitors a 13-8 lead. They would not trail again. Gage had five carries for 44 yards and a score, while Galliher had five carries and 32 yards. Galliher added six catches for 70 yards. Whiteley took six carries for 44 yards and a score, and added a 55-yard punt-return score in the second quarter, as well.
Taconic usually establishes its running game early and often, but coach Jim Ziter said the Hoosac (1-3, 0-2) defense forced them to pass.
"We constantly rep our passing game," he said. "Everyone is always trying to stop our running game, so we concentrate on trying to have a passing game with it, too.
"These guys watch a lot film on HUDL and they see what the defense is giving us. ... And they do a good job preparing."
Taconic has the luxury of a relying on veteran quarterback in McNeice. For Hoosac, the Hurricanes turned to sophomore Vance Eugene at quarterback for the entire game after using him mostly in running situations previously. Former starting quarterback Nick Waterman moved to wide receiver, and the change seemed to be paying dividends early. After Taconic marched on a seven-play scoring drive on its opening possession, the Hurricanes capitalized on Taconic penalties, moving the ball to their 45. On second and 15, Eugene dropped back and hit Waterman on a slant route, and the former signal caller ran away from the defense, going all the way to the end zone for the 55-yard score. Matt Hall's two-point run put Hoosac up 8-7, but the host would not score again until the fourth quarter.
The last time these teams faced was in the 2015 Western Massachusetts Division V championship game. Hoosac rushed for 296 yards en route to a big win. On Saturday, Tyrell Council and the Taconic defense line more than held their own, shooting into the backfield and routinely dropping Hoosac ballcarriers for a loss. Hoosac managed just 66 yards rushing. Brenden Ellsworth led the way with 49 yards on five carries and one score.
"We were practicing all week and were more motivated and dedicated," Council said. "Last year they killed us by 50 points and we weren't having that this year — so we brought it to them. We were on our A game all week. We listened to what coach [Ziter] said, we watched film and we did a really good job."
The win moves Taconic to 2-0 in the Suburban North, setting up a game against Wahconah (5-0, 2-0) with major division championship implications. Ziter said he was pleased with his team's performance, but committing five penalties for 42 yards is something they must clean up when facing the Warriors.
"You're not going to keep moving forward with the penalties," he said. "We're putting ourselves behind the 8-ball just about every game — three to four times a game. You can't have that and we're going to work on that Monday."
Hoosac has a week to lick its wounds from the loss. The Hurricanes host Chicopee on Saturday.
T — Zach Gage 14 run (Brandon Peaslee kick), 7:25
H — Nick Waterman 55 pass from Vance Eugene (Matt Hall run), 3:47.
T — Jake Galliher 33 from McNeice (run failed), 1:20.
T — Anthony Whiteley 55 run, (Galliher from McNeice), 4:42.
T — Devon Walker 34 pass from McNeice (Galliher run), :8.2.
T — Peaslee 21 kick, 6:20.
H — Brenden Ellsworth 1 run (run failed), 9:50.
T — Whiteley 23 run (Peaslee run), 1:23.
RUSHING — Taconic: Jake Galliher 5-32, Anthony Whiteley 6-44, Zach Gage 5-44, Jake McNeice 6-5, Brandon Peaslee 6-31, Cedric Rose 2-(minus 1). Hoosac: David Critelli 3-0, Vance Eugene 17-11, Matt Hall 3-11, Brenden Ellsworth 5-49, Maxwell Shafer 1-0.
PASSING — Taconic: McNeice 11-17-0 249. Hoosac: 4-8-1 68
RECEIVING — Taconic: Galliher 6-70, Gage 2-15, Devon Walker 3-94. Hoosac: Nick Waterman 1-55, Critelli 2-8, Ellsworth 1-5.
Contact Akeem Glaspie at 413-496-6252