Wahconah football team takes the fight out of East Longmeadow in lopsided win
East Longmeadow came to town averaging almost 38 points per game, and it looked like a game when Elijah Johnson returned a first-quarter kickoff 100 yards for a tying touchdown. That was the high point for the visitors.
Wahconah responded with 42 unanswered points and never looked back in a 56-21 win Friday night, in Wahconah's Suburban South home opener.
"That was as good a first half as we've played all year," said Wahconah head coach Gary Campbell Jr., after the 5-0 Warriors (2-0 Suburban South) scored five unanswered touchdowns.
The Wahconah starting defense gave up one touchdown, and it came after a failed fake punt that gave the Spartans the ball on the Warriors' 30-yard line.
"I thought we came out on all cylinders," Campbell said. "On the kick return, he's good. That kid, plain and simple, is good. There's no doubt we were expecting a ball game all the way through. After that we settled down. We had the running game going. We had the passing game going. I thought we did a good job keeping them off balance on offense.
"Defensively, I think we caught up. Once we got going and the jitters were gone, we caught up."
The statistical beatdown was far worse than the one recorded on the scoreboard.
Wahconah ran 65 plays for 511 net yards, to 34 plays and 102 net yards for East Longmeadow. Wahconah ran the ball 50 times for 358 yards and quarterback Tim Clayton completed 9-of-15 passes for 153 yards and a pair of second-quarter touchdowns.
The Wahconah defense, meanwhile, held the Spartans to 27 yards rushing on 21 carries. Johnson, who scored on the kickoff return, was bottled up offensively. He had four carries for 19 yards and caught one pass for zero yards.
Wahconah also converted East Longmeadow's two turnovers into touchdowns.
"We thought it was going to be a good game and was going to come down to Patrick [Butler] kicking a field goal," Wahconah wide receiver Dane Campbell said. "He didn't, which was good for us."
Of Wahconah's eight touchdowns, six came on the ground and the longest run from scrimmage came in the fourth quarter. Antwaun Fye scampered 79 yards for the game's final touchdown. It was the senior's first TD.
Clayton seems to be getting more comfortable every outing. On Friday, the quarterback completed the first six passes he threw. Campbell caught the first two of those passes for a total of 56 yards. He ended up with four catches for 99 yards.
The Wahconah head coach said that the way East Longmeadow plays in the secondary helped open things up for Clayton and his receivers. The Wahconah quarterback completed passes to five different receivers, including one out of punt formation on fourth down to Tom O'Connor for 21 yards and a first down.
"They play press man, so you have to bunch [the receivers] up. You have to do some things, make them think, make them bring another guy out of the box," said the Wahconah coach. "That was the plan. We hit a couple of deep ones there. Even if they're not touchdowns, it loosens everybody up. Now a safety has to come over and maybe you get one guy out of the box.
"Now you can run the ball."
Dane Campbell scored on a jet sweep run of 14 yards and closed the first half on a 35-yard pass-and-run play from Clayton.
Tanner Hastings, who ran for 96 yards on 16 carries, scored on touchdown runs of 25 and three yards, while Conner Noyes scored on runs of two and 15 yards. Noyes had 72 yards on 12 carries.
"We knew they were going to come out and fight," said Hastings. "We just had to come out and fight harder."
East Longmeadow 7 0 7 7 — 21
Wahconah 14 28 7 7 — 56
W — Conner Noyes 2 run (Patrick Butler kick), 7:53.
EL — Elijah Johnson 100 kickoff return (Patrick Maimborg kick), 7:35.
W — Tanner Hastings 25 run (Butler kick), 4:40.
W — Dane Campbell 14 run (Butler kick), 9:32.
W — Noyes 15 run (Butler kick), 5:39.
W — Tom Burris 10 pass from Tim Clayton (Butler kick), 5:18.
W — Campbell 35 pass from Clayton (Butler kick) 2:28.
EL — Johnson 1 run (Malmborg kick), 6:45.
W — Hastings 3 run (Butler kick), 1:14.
EL — Hunter Mazza 40 fumble return (Malmborg kick), 11:37.
W — Antwaun Fye 79 run (Butler kick), 5:00.
First Downs 25 4
Rushes-yards 50-358 21-27
Passing yards 153 75
Comp-Att-Int 9-15-0 4-13-1
Punts-Avg. 0-0.00 5-31.8
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 1-1
Penalties-Yards 5-36 2-24
RUSHING — Wah: Conner Noyes 12-72, Tanner Hastings 16-96, Tim Clayton 5-25, Dane Campbell 2-33, Nate Zink 4-18, Ethan Scott 7-24, Matt Mathers 3-19, Antwaun Fye 1-71. EL: Jourdan Powell 1-7, Hunter Mazza 2-(minus 5), Aiden Ward 9-14, Elijah Johnson 4-19, Cam Ottoson 1-(minus-1), Adam McCarthy 2-2, Zach Robidoux 1(minus-9).
PASSING — Wah: Clayton 9-15-0 153. EL: Ottoson 4-13-1 75.
RECEIVING — Wah: Campbell 4-99, Austin Roughley 2-16, Bob Archambault 1-7, Tom Burris 1-10, Tom O'Connor 1-18. EL: Powell 1-26, Mazza 1-5, Johnson 1-0, Jake Griffith 1-44.
Reach sports writer Howard Herman at 413-496-6253 or @howardherman.