SOUTH HADLEY — South Hadley couldn’t seem to find an answer for Pittsfield quarterback Patrick Rindfuss on Friday.
The Generals ran their big signal-caller early and often with much success and capitalized once the Tigers were forced to come up and defend the run with deep passing.
Rindfuss finished with 25 carries for 193 yards and three touchdowns, while also going 7-for-11 for 139 yards and a pair of touchdowns through the air to lift Pittsfield to a 44-20 victory.
South Hadley (2-4) suffered multiple injuries in the game, leaving it shorthanded in the second half.
“We were a shell of ourselves,” Tigers coach Scott Taylor said. “They’re a great team, but so are we. We have too many injuries. That’s the bottom line. It’s frustrating because we didn’t have all our guys. I’d love to play them with all our guys and see what would happen.”
The win was the first time Generals coach Brian Jezewski has beaten South Hadley in his long tenure with the team.
“I’m really proud of our guys,” Jezewski said. “That’s a full team effort. South Hadley is no joke. They’re well-coached, a physical team and our guys stepped up. I thought we dominated the second half physically. Our offensive and defensive line came together. This feels good for our guys. I think this solidifies us as a team to deal with in the Division V playoffs.”
Multiple big runs by Rindfuss brought Pittsfield (4-1) into the red zone on the opening drive of the game, culminating with Rindfuss finding Brayden Bunnell for a 9-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-4. Rindfuss ran in the 2-point try to make it 8-0 Generals with 6 minutes, 47 seconds to play in the first quarter.
South Hadley answered with a touchdown drive of its own, with Owen Dawson breaking off a 29-yard touchdown run with 3:38 to play in the first quarter. Evan Piquette converted the two-point try to tie the game, 8-8.
Rindfuss made his lone mistake of the game on the first play of the ensuing possession, picking up a bad snap and trying to throw the ball away, but Brady Currier was there on the sideline to make the interception for the Tigers.
Set up at at the Generals 25, Piquette was stopped on a fourth-and-3 to give the ball back to Pittsfield.
The explosive plays for the Generals began in the second quarter. Rindfuss found Davon Solomon for a 50-yard touchdown strike to put Pittsfield ahead, 14-8. Once again South Hadley answered, with Piquette running in untouched up the middle for a 17-yard touchdown to tie the game back up at 14 with 4:28 to play in the first half.
Rindfuss opened the ensuing drive with a 39-yard strike to Solomon to set Pittsfield up at the Tiger 11, where Rindfuss ran it in himself and found Louis Rhodes for the two-point try to put the Generals ahead, 22-14, less than a minute later.
The lights went out on South Hadley’s final drive of the half, causing a delay. When the teams emerged from the locker room, the Tigers had a chance to score before the half, but Noah Marion’s pass was picked off by Tobias Gaulden-Wheeler to preserve the General lead at the break.
Rindfuss brought Pittsfield down in the third quarter and ran in a touchdown from 1-yard out to extend the lead to 30-14 with 4:02 to go in the third quarter. Rhodes raced in for a 58-yard rushing score to make it 36-14 with 7:47 to play in the game.
The Tigers made it a two-score game with 5:36 to play on a 14-yard touchdown run by Piquette, but Rindfuss ran in a 39-yard touchdown on the next possession to prevent any sort of comeback from South Hadley.
“Patrick had an unbelievable game,” Jezewski said. “That’s what good players do. They play well in big games and he’s an unbelievable player. He’s a big, strong kid and he’s the hardest worker on the field.”
With all the injuries, the Tigers will look to get healthy and rebound next Friday against Putnam.
“We had kids playing who had no business being on a varsity field, but they gave it everything they had,” Taylor said. “This is the first time Pittsfield has beat us so hats off to them.”