Pittsfield drops 34-32 decision to South Hadley in 3OT football thriller

Pittsfield's Sebastian Guilce scores on a 9-yard option run in the first quarter against South Hadley.
GEOFF SMITH - THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE
Pittsfield quarterback Joe Martel is sacked on a two-point conversion to end Friday's game against South Hadley.
GEOFF SMITH - THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE
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PITTSFIELD — The final score will indicate that the Pittsfield football team fell to South Hadley, 34-32, in three overtimes. The Generals' record will indicate that the team is just 1-5 on the season, and 1-2 in the Suburban North. But make no mistake about this — coach Brian Jezewski is proud of his team, and thought they showed a level of heart and grit on Friday night at Wahconah Park that embodies "Pittsfield football."

"I'm real proud of my guys, and I take my hat off to South Hadley," Jezewski said, his voice raspy from a long night filled with emotions. "That was a fist fight for 48-plus minutes. Coach [Scott] Taylor and I are good friends, he runs a great program. Pittsfield High is a really good football team, and I think that gets lost when people write about us. They don't realize how much heart these guys show and how hard they play. I wouldn't trade my team for anyone in the country."

Friday's ballgame was one filled with twists and turns that kept everyone on both sides on the edge of their seats until a sack by South Hadley on a two-point try in the third overtime ended the contest.

"It's cliche, but it's a shame someone had to lose that game," said Taylor. "Both teams wanted it, both teams deserved it. It's an unfortunate bounce of the ball, it's a missed block. It's not something you can coach, both teams are well coached and they played their hearts out. My hat's off to the kids, this is what it's about."

Pittsfield took an early lead when Sebastian Guilce ran in from nine yards out, half-fumbling and half-diving across the goal line in the first quarter. South Hadley answered in the second when Hunter Carey blew through busted coverage for a 79-yard touchdown pass from Mike Pratt, but a failed two-point conversion put PHS up 8-6 at halftime.

In the second half, neither team scored in the third quarter, setting up what looked like a dramatic final 12 minutes.

Only, the game was just getting started.

The Tigers (3-3, 2-1) took the lead with 11 minutes, 14 seconds left in regulation on a five-yard scamper by Ben Watkins.

Pittsfield, though, answered. With running back Jamal Beda out of the game, and starting quarterback D'Andre Johnson taken out of action through an injury, backup quarterback Joe Martel stepped in to lead the charge.

Facing a third-and-eight at his own 30, Martel managed to find Guilce for a 30-yard completion. The pass blew new life into Pittsfield's lungs, and four plays later Edwin Rodriguez (23 carries, 151 yards, 2 touchdowns) busted through the line from 20 yards out to tie the game up at 14-14.

Both teams got looks to win the game, and with 21.2 seconds left South Hadley took a stab down the field, only for Donte Cruz to intercept the pass.

But before the final whistle could blow and bring on overtime, Martel and Guilce combined for another bit of magic. On a desperation throw, Martel saw his initial pass tipped by South Hadley's Hunter Carey, who had picked off Johnson twice in the first half. This time, Carey couldn't get the interception. Instead, it tipped into the hands of Guilce, who broke away from Carey down the right sideline. But before Guilce could send the Wahconah Park faithful into rapture, a Tiger was able to tackle Guilce at the one-yard line to force overtime.

"They said he stepped out on the two-yard line," Jezewski said. "I couldn't see what it was. What an effort play. And a kid like Sebastian, he's been through more than 95 percent of the people in this community. What a story for this kid. What a leader — he was named captain recently — and that was an effort play, and that's what Pittsfield football is."

In overtime, Liam Dawson got South Hadley on the board first with a 10-yard run on the first play. Pittsfield followed up with two, five-yard runs by Rodriguez. Neither team converted on the two-point try.

In the second overtime, Pittsfield got the ball first and scored via a Trevon Taylor 10-yard run. The snap on the two-point conversion was fumbled, though, putting the game back in South Hadley's hands. The Tigers were able to score on a fourth-and-goal from the five on another scamper by Dawson. Their two-point try failed, though, when a false start pushed the Tigers back and the pass from eight yards out fell incomplete.

Things finally ended in the third go-around. With the Tigers getting the ball first this time, Dawson scored on a counter reverse from 10 yards. On the two-point try, Watkins scored to put South Hadley up 34-32.

"His footprint is all over the game," Taylor said of Dawson. "And what's amazing, he gave up that last TD in the last OT, but all these guys, they step back up and play the next play. That's one of our mantras ...  they are the embodiment of that."

Pittsfield needed just two plays to score, with Martel hitting Cruz on an eight-yard completion. On the two-point try, though, Martel fell back to throw a pass, and ended up getting sacked to end the ballgame.

"We ran the same play, the two-point conversion that they stopped us on, we were having a lot of success on that play but it just didn't work out," Jezewski said. "Intense, definitely. Our kids were focused and ready to go [in overtime], and so were the South Hadley kids."

Martel finished 4-for-6 for 108 yards and a touchdown, while Guilce had two catches for 98 yards, and four carries for 15 yards. Taylor had 87 yards on seven carries.

For South Hadley, Dawson had 99 yards on 17 carries for three scores, and Pratt went 8-for-19 for 119 yards, a score and an interception.

PHS returns to action next Friday at home against Hoosac Valley.

———

S. Hadley     0     6     0     8     6     6     8          34

Pittsfield     8     0     0     6     6     6     6          32

First Quarter

P — Sebastian Guilce 9-yard run (Traversa pass from Johnson), 1:18.

Second Quarter

SH — Hunter Carey 79 pass from Mike Pratt (run failed), 3:24.

Fourth Quarter

SH — Ben Watkins 5-yard run (Dawson run), 11:14.

P — Edwin Rodriguez 20-yard run (run failed), 7:16.

First Overtime

SH — Liam Dawson 10-yard run (run failed).

P — Rodriguez 5-yard run (run failed).

Second Overtime

P — Trevon Taylor 10-yard run (run failed).

SH — Dawson 5-yard run (pass failed).

Third Overtime

SH — Dawson 10-yard run (Watkins run).

P — Donte Cruz 8 pass from Joe Martel (run failed).

———

TEAM STATISTICS

     SH     P

Rushes-yards     39-156     44-308

Att-comp-int     8-19-1     4-11-2

Passing yards     119     108

Penalties-yards     5-26     6-47

Fumbles-lost     0-0     4-1

———

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — SH: Liam Dawson 17-99, Hunter Carey 7-21, N/A 2-(-7), Ben Watkins 11-54, Hunter Borowski 1-(-6), Mike Pratt 1-(-5). P: Edwin Rodriguez 23-151, D'Andre Johnson 6-50, Sebastian Guilce 4-15, Joe Traversa 3-4, Trevon Taylor 7-87, Shawn O'Shea 1-1.

PASSING — SH: Pratt 8-19-1 119. P: Johnson 0-4-2 0, Joe Martel 4-6-0 108.

RECEIVING — SH: Dawson 5-24, Watkins 1-8, Carey 1-79, N/A 1-8. P: Guilce 2-98, Traversa 1-2, Cruz 1-8.

Reach Geoff Smith at 413-496-6254 or @GSmith_Eagle.


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