Wahconah ekes out 6-0 win over Taconic
PITTSFIELD — In a game with only one score, Friday night at Berkshire Community College's Gene Dellea Field came down to execution is crucial moments.
Wahconah out-maneuvered Taconic and then down the stretch managed to wrap a Shea McIlquham death grip around a 6-0 victory on the road.
"You never really know when you come out here, big city rivals, we were expecting to have a tough match," said McIlquham, the Wahconah senior who made the game-saving sack. "I just fall back on my brothers. I know that no matter what happens out there, big plays, little plays, win, lose, they have my back."
The Warriors were out-gained in the game by 95 yards and ran 24 fewer plays from scrimmage than the host Braves. They also had the game's lone turnover. However, coach Gary Campbell's crew converted on 2 of 3 fourth downs, while Taconic was 1 of 5 in such situations.
"This is a good football team," said Taconic coach Jim Ziter, gesturing to Wahconah. "It was a great game. It was just too bad it went that way."
On two of those do-or-die occasions, once on offense and once on defense, Wahconah did enough to leave Pittsfield with a victory and 2-0 start to the fall.
Facing a fourth-and-two from the Taconic 30 early in the second quarter of a scoreless game, the Warriors approached the line of scrimmage in a full house formation.
The handoff went to Zach Archambault with the option of diving it between the tackles or bumping it outside. Lead blockers Cylas Emerson and Gabe Davis sealed off the left edge, and Archambault found a seam. The junior broke into a full sprint, stepping through a diving arm tackle and bolting 30 yards into the end zone with 8 minutes, 25 seconds left in the half.
"We just kind of pack it all in and give the running back a chance to see a hole and attack it," said Campbell. "They really stuffed it in there, and Zach broke a tackle and had a real nice scamper down the left sideline."
Campbell said he absolutely didn't think that 6-0 score would hold up.
"We came up with one more play than they did, let's face it," he said.
It was more like two more plays, because the Braves offense found some mojo in the second half — in particular late in the fourth quarter.
Taconic took over on its own 15-yard line off a Wahconah punt with 7:24 to play. Quarterback Ian Hadsell got the drive started with a pair of completions, including an 18-yard strike on the move to Wyatt George. The offensive line then started grinding on the Warriors, and Haywood Eurquhart (16 carries, 98 yards) was rumbling behind them. He carried for a pair of first downs, before Anthony Johnson spelled him for a couple plays. The junior power back brought the home crowd to its feet with a fourth-down carry that saw him truck a defender one-on-one near the first-down marker. The punishing, 19-yard run brought the Braves to Wahconah's 19-yard line. Eurquhart and Johnson continued trading off carries, and on second-and-six from the 15, Johnson appeared to bring Taconic inside the 10 for a first-and-goal with less than 3 minutes to play.
As it did repeatedly all night, though, a yellow flag fell to the turf and nullified a big Taconic play. This time a chop block was called, sending Ziter's offense back to the 30 with a second-and-21.
The Braves got back to the 24, but with time waning one final fourth-down situation remained.
"We've just got to clean up our penalties. Discipline is the main takeaway," said Ziter. "Heart, they had more heart than we've seen in a long time. I'm proud of everything they did. Just discipline. Have to clean it up"
Hadsell bootlegged to his right, but McIlquham read the play perfectly and closed the gap to trip up Hadsell before the Braves signal caller to could think about making a pass.
"They were aggressive all night and we just had to meet them with aggression," said McIlquham. "Our coaches teach us if we're going to do something, go and do it 110 percent.
"That's what was going through my head."
The Braves had three possessions in the second half, and worked into Wahconah territory on each of them. They all also ended on fourth downs shy of the end zone.
Asked if this could still be a springboard for his team moving forward, Ziter rejected the notion.
"It's going to be, It's not 'it could be,' it's going to be a springboard."
Taconic received the second-half kickoff and went 57 yards on 15 plays, but on fourth-and-five from the Wahconah 14, Nick Hall's carry was bottled up by Tristan Sheldon and a host of Warriors at the 10.
Eurquhart broke off a 32-yard run after his defense forced a three-and-out, bringing Taconic to the visiting 27. A fourth-and-12 rush went only four yards before Jon Render, Tom O'Connor and Emerson brought him down.
"I'm happy to come out of here with a win. That's all. We've got young kids and I'm happy," said Campbell. "Happy, happy, happy."
Wahconah 0 6 0 0 — 6
Taconic 0 0 0 0 — 0
W — Zach Archambault 30 run (pass fail), 8:25.
First Downs 5 13
Rushes-Yards 24-129 41-185
Comp-Att-Int 2-11-0 6-9-0
Passing Yards 14 53
Total Yards 143 238
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 0-0
Turnovers 1 0
Penalties-Yards 5-35 7-75
RUSHING — W: Ian Graham 12-61, Zach Archambault 6-50, Quinn Gallagher 4-16, Shea McIlquham 1-4, Jon Render 1-(-2); T: Haywood Eurquhart 16-98, Anthony Johnson 5-38, Dylan Burke 6-17, Nick Hall 6-13, Cole Lander 5-15, Ian Hadsell 2-4, Marquise Saunders 1-0.
PASSING — W: Gallagher 2-11-0 14; T: Hadsell 6-9-0 53.
RECEIVING — W: Griffin Salvini 1-11, Tom O'Connor 1-3; T: Wyatt George 3-37, Eurquhart 3-37, Saunders 1-9.
Mike Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @CLNS_Walsh on Twitter and 413-496-6240.
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