Wahconah uses quick-strike offense, smothering defense to beat Putnam
SPRINGFIELD — The Wahconah football team used its dominant rushing attack and smothering defense to earn a 34-14 win over Putnam on Thursday at Springfield Central.
Wahconah's first unit did all its damage in two quarters, giving way to backups by the second half. The Warriors held the Beavers to just 42 yards in the first half. Offensively, they scored touchdowns in all three facets of the game.
"It's a good feeling for the first team to get off the field within the first two quarters," Wahconah returner/receiver Dane Campbell said. "Letting the second and third team get on [the field] is the best. It was just awesome to see that. It's perfect."
Poor Putnam punts consistently put Wahconah in plus field position and the visitors made the Beavers pay. Starting on the Putnam 28, the Warriors first drive lasted two plays, as Campbell took a jet sweep handing right and went 22 yards to the end zone.
The Warriors started their next possession on their own 40. Six plays later Tanner Hastings rumbled into the end zone for a 4-yard score.
Wahconah's defense and special teams ruled the second quarter. Leading 21-0 late in the quarter, Campbell took another short punt 40 yards to the end zone. The speedy senior picked up a block along the right sideline and went untouched into the end zone.
Gabe Verdi added Wahconah's final points less than a minute later. He read the pass from Putnam quarterback Cecil Villa, stepped in front and grabbed the interception. Again, the Warriors threw several well-placed blocks allowing Verdi to go 36 yards to the end zone for the pick-six.
Wahconah's return units worked and Patrick Butler had a strong day in the kicking game as well. He converted four of five extra points and his deep kickoff repeatedly denied a Putnam return, or pinned them with unfavorable field position to start the game.
In the second half, the Beavers continued to fight. Nate Martinez's touchdown run and the following two-point conversion brought Putnam within 20 with 52 seconds left in the third quarter.
Brandon Devalve intercepted Ethan Scott's pass on Wahconah next drive, giving the home stand a chance at a late comeback. But, Wahconah ended the comeback hopes with Matt Mathers' interception on the next drive.
Playing on Thursday gives Wahconah an extra day of preparation heading into its game against East Longmeadow next Friday night in Dalton. Coach Gary Campbell Jr. said extra preparation is nice, but a strong performance from his first unit is the most important take away from the game.
"I think the performance is more valuable than the time," he said. "You feel good and you think your starters did well. ... Because of that it gives you a good springboard to next week."
Wahconah 14 20 0 0 — 34
Putnam 0 0 14 0 — 14
W — Dane Campbell 22 run (Patrick Butler kick), 9:03.
W — Tanner Hastings run (Butler kick), 4:33.
W — Connor Noyes 6 run (Butler kick), 5:46.
W — Campbell 40 punt return (kick missed), 3:56
W — Gabe Verdi 36 interception return (Butler kick), 3:08.
P — Edrick Santiago 7 run (kick missed), 6:20.
P — Nate Martinez 3 run (Davyn Peterson pass from Cecil Villa), :52.
Rushes-yards 32-145 38-114
Comp-att-int 3-11-1 4-11-1
Passing yards 61 28
Penalties-yards 4-21 3-25
Fumbles-lost 1-0 0-0
RUSHING — Wahconah: Tanner Hastings 7-36, Dane Campbell 1-22, Connor Noyes 7-34, Dylan Melle 1-(-5), Antwuan Fye 1-20, Tim Clayton 1-5, Ethan Scott 4-26, Nate Zink 7-16, Matt Mathers 4-12. Putnam: Dayvn Peterson 8-14, Brandon Delvale 7-37, Karaun Taylor 5-6, Cecil Villa 8-19, Malick Barrett 1-2, Edrrick Santiago 7-27, Nate Martinez 2-9.
PASSING — Wahconah: Tim Clayton 2-5 30. Ethan Scott 1-6-1 31. Putnam: Chris Spears 1-1 (minus 1). Villa 3-10-1 29.
RECEIVING — Waconah: Jake Gai 2-43. Tom Burris 1-28. Putnam: N/A 1-(minus 1), Santiago 1-9, Johaniell Cruz 1-10, N/A 1-10.
Reach sports writer Akeem Glaspie at 413-496-6252 or @TheAkeemGlaspie.
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