Lee football team can't keep pace with Chicopee in loss
LEE — When Lee football coach Keith Thomson and his staff break down the game tape from Friday's contest against Chicopee, what happened will be fairly apparent.
Despite dominating in every statistical category, the Wildcats managed only three points on five trips inside the Chicopee 30-yard line. That isn't going to win a game, and the Wildcats didn't as the Pacers left town with a 16-10 victory Friday night.
"That's the game," Thomson said. "We beat ourselves tonight. Give credit to Chicopee. They made some adjustments. We let them hang around in the first half. We moved the ball up and down the field, and we couldn't punch it in there."
The Wildcats did lead 7-0 at halftime thanks to a 59-yard pass play from quarterback Jimmy Purcell to Tag Roosa. But it could have been a much wider margin had Lee punched in another score or two.
Thomson's team had the ball inside the red zone on each of its first two possessions. On the game's first drive, Lee marched from its 36-yard line to the Pacer 11, but on fourth down, Nick Nicotra gained two yards but needed five.
Then, after a quick three-and-out for Chicopee and a short punt, the Wildcats were on the Pacer 35. They got to the Chicopee 13 when Roosa fumbled and recovered, but the Wildcats were also called for a personal foul. On fourth-and-14, Purcell could not complete the hookup with Luke Patella and the Wildcats turned the ball over on downs.
"Mistakes are going to kill you," Thomson said. "Penalty after penalty, and bad snaps and whatever it happens to be, a ball on the ground or blown opportunities. This one stings a little bit."
The Wildcats were penalized nine times for 95 yards. The other statistical categories all belonged to the Wildcats, as well. They outgained Chicopee 423 yards to 206, ran 68 offensive plays to 34, and had 20 first downs to seven for Chicopee.
Nicotra had 185 yards in total offense for the Wildcats. He ran the ball 20 times for 120 yards and caught five passes for 65 yards. Roosa caught four passes from Purcell for 90 yards, while the Wildcat quarterback completed 17-of-31 throws for 250 yards, the one touchdown and an interception on the final play of the first half.
Lee got into the red zone (inside the 20-yard line) on its first two drives of the game, on the last drive of the first half and on two drives in the second half. The only points they got out of those five opportunities were on a 26-yard field goal by Patella, who made his first high school field goal and earlier, his first high school point-after kick.
"I wish I knew" what the difference was playing between the 20s and inside the red zone, Thomson said. "That's what I'll be trying to figure out tonight and into tomorrow. I thought we made a lot of mistakes down there. We played behind the sticks a lot down there with penalties, and with first-and-long and second-and-long, it kind of shrinks your playbook a little bit. We were having success with the play action early. Second-and-15 is not the best time for a play action, nobody's really going to bite on it.
"The bottom line is we made too many mistakes."
The Pacers, meanwhile, had 24 total yards in the first half and had run only 15 plays. They rushed for 170 net yards in the second half. That total included a difference-making 72 yard touchdown run by John Vega Gonzalez.
Chicopee had just held Lee on downs at its 28-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Vega Gonzalez took the handoff from quarterback Steven Matta, broke a couple of tackles and sprinted away from the Lee defense, going 72 yards for the touchdown. Vega Gonzalez had 164 yards rushing in the game, 151 of those coming in the second half.
"Simple. We talked offensive line," Chicopee coach Alex Efstratios said when asked about his halftime talk. "You've got to have some pride in the offensive line. You have to take care of the offensive line. In the second half, we got  yards rushing and it's because of the offensive line. I just directed it to the offensive line. They stepped up and did a phenomenal job."
The Wildcats trailed 16-10 after Patella's field goal. An onside kick play gave Chicopee the ball at its 47, but the Pacers were stopped on fourth down at the Lee 27 with 2:47 left.
The Wildcats did drive to the Chicopee 31, but came away empty on third- and fourth-down pass plays, and the Pacers ran out the clock.
"Every team has its own personality and it takes a little while for it to really come to the forefront," Thomson said. "I think if it's any indication the way they stayed in the fight and came back, and had an opportunity on the last drive. We had a fourth-and-short, and I'm sure I'll be sitting up tonight thinking maybe I could have done this, should have done that.
"There was no quit in them, and I think that's a testament to their character."
Chicopee 0 0 8 8 — 16
Lee 0 7 0 3 — 10
L — Tag Roosa 59 pass from Jimmy Purcell (Luke Patella kick), 3:57.
C — Tre'yon Tillman 12 pass from Steven Matta (John Vega Gonzalez run), 8:19.
C — Vega Gonzalez 72 run (Jerome Jacobs run), 8:37.
L — Patella 26 FG.
First Downs 20 7
Rushes-Yards 37-173 30-179
Passing yards 250 27
Comp-Att-Int 17-31-1 3-4-0
Punts-Avg. 2-25.0 5-33.6
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 2-0
Penalties 9-95 5-40
RUSHING — Lee: Nick Nicotra 20-120, Jimmy Purcell 5-(minus-8), Jack Purcell 5-34, Tag Roosa 3-5, Gabe Kelley 4-22. Chicopee: David Charles II 1-1, John Vega Gonzalez 21-164, Steven Matta 5-9, Jerome Jacobs 3-5.
PASSING — Lee: Jimmy Purcell 17-31-1 250. Chicopee: Matta 3-4-0 27.
RECEIVING — Lee: Roosa 4-90, Luke Patella 2-22, Avrin Paradise 1-7, Nicotra 5-65, Cole Redstone 2-35, Kelley 3-19. Chicopee: Jacobs 2-15, Tre'yon Tillman 1-12.
Howard Herman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.
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