Greenfield blows past Mohawk
BUCKLAND — Stung into action after a middling first half, and an early upset-minded surge by Mohawk Trail Regional High School, Greenfield High School finally kicked into gear Saturday afternoon with the form and production that had propelled it to a 5-0 start in 2012.
The Green Wave reversed a 12-8 halftime deficit with three long second-half scoring drives and quarterback Zach Bartak put up impressive numbers both on the ground and through the air in a 30-12 Intercounty League victory over the Warriors at Pollard Field.
Bartak ran for 174 of his 243 yards in the second half with a touchdown and shook off two early interceptions to finish 8-of-17 passing for 87 yards and two scores, one each to Parker Hickey and Garrett Hudson.
“It’s nice to be 6-0, but the first half, Mohawk took it to us,” said Green Wave coach Mike Kuchieski. “We weren’t ready to play that football game. I’m disappointed in that, because we should be ready to play every game. We were fortunate enough that we came together in the second half and put some points on the board, and played hard.”
The Mohawk passing combo of quarterback Alex Buntin and wideout Stephen Reynolds teamed up for two first-half touchdown passes, including a 43-yard jump-ball connection with just 29 seconds left before halftime to give the hosts their 12-8 lead at the break.
“We go to the ball well, we picked (Bartak) off twice, but we couldn’t sustain it,” said Warriors coach Jim Smith. “He’s tough, he’s solid, and in the second half he was just banging in there and we couldn’t stop him. They just wore us down.”
Mohawk (2-3, 1-3 IL) had no trouble moving the football on the first series of the game, driving from its own 30 on the strength of big gains by Connor Maloney (16 yards) and Andrew Doty (11). On fourth-and-10 from the Greenfield 25, Reynolds split two Green Wave defenders down the right seam and Buntin hit him in stride for six points and a 6-0 Warrior lead with 5:01 left in the first quarter.
Greenfield worked the ball down to the Mohawk 22 on its first series of the game, but Maloney picked off Bartak for the first of his two interceptions, returning it 8 yards to the 18. Mohawk couldn’t move it and a 5-yard punt put Greenfield in great shape at the 20, and in an even better spot shortly after with first-and-goal at the 1. But an illegal-block call wiped out a TD pass from Bartak to Hickey, followed by a 16-yard sack of Bartak by Leroy Page. Finally, on fourth-and-goal at the 29, Maloney intercepted Bartak a second time, with a 20-yard return to the Warrior 24.
Mohawk’s ensuing drive ended when Reynolds lost a fumble to Bartak at the Greenfield 45, and the Wave went into action for its first scoring drive, starting with a 20-yard gain on a draw play by Bartak. The senior then hit Hickey with a 4-yard scoring pass on a square-out pattern, followed by a two-point conversion pass to Mike Lively, to put Greenfield up 8-6 with just 1:27 to play in the half.
That left Mohawk with enough time to drive to the Greenfield 43 and for Reynolds to take away a rainbow pass from Buntin just inside the right pylon for the go-ahead score with 29 seconds on the clock. Buntin’s conversion pass fell incomplete, but the Warriors took a 12-8 lead to the locker room.
Once it had the lead, however, Mohawk saw very little of the football in the second half, running only 11 offensive plays and managing only two first downs. Meanwhile, Greenfield mounted drives of 77, 89 and 70 yards, each leading to touchdowns.
Bartak finally broke loose on the final play of the first half, taking off 47 yards to the Mohawk 43 as time expired. That seemed to galvanize the Green Wave, who got big gainers of 17 and 22 yards by Bartak and then a 17-yard TD pass from Bartak to Hudson with 6:01 left in the third. Bartak then threw to Hickey for the two-pointer and the lead for good at 16-12.
The Warriors’ Jeremiah Jones ripped off a 34-yard gain to put the ball at the Greenfield 14, but Mohawk lost the ball on downs at the 11. The Wave offense went right back to work with a 28-yard gain by Bartak on the first play. In all, Bartak ran for 60 yards on the drive and completed two passes for 24 more yards, then capped it himself on a 3-yard TD run and a conversion pass to Lew Borden, giving the visitors a 24-12 edge with 6:38 remaining in the game.
After Mohawk went three-and-out and punted, Greenfield took over at its 30 and had its way against a flagging Warrior defense. Bartak carried three straight times for 57 yards and Hudson took it in from 7 yards out with only 46 seconds to go, creating the 30-12 final.
“I know Coach Smith was going to have his kids competing,” said Kuchieski. “It’s a credit to Mohawk, they played hard, and this shows we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Borden finished with three catches for 40 yards. Mohawk’s Buntin went 4-for-10 passing, with all four receptions by Reynolds, for 91 yards. Doty led the Warriors with 63 yards on the ground and Jones added 43.
Greenfield remained in a first-place tie with Belchertown High School atop the Intercounty League, both with 4-0 records, and Athol High School sits a half-game back at 3-0. The Green Wave takes this week off before hosting Athol Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. Meanwhile, Mohawk hosts Mahar Regional School Friday at 7 p.m.