Turners Super Bowl bound, rips Ware, 36-8
Tiger Woods of the United States, left, and Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland chat on their way to the tee-off on the first hole during their 18-hole medal-match at the Lake Jinsha Golf Club in Zhengzhou, in central China's Henan province, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. McIlroy shot a 5-under 67 to beat Woods by one stroke in a head-to-head, 18-hole exhibition match between the world's two top-ranked golfers. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)
ORANGE — Ryan Wilder made history and Turners Falls High School punched its ticket to the WMass Division IV Super Bowl with a 36-8 victory over Ware High School in the semifinals Tuesday night at the James Woodward Athletic Complex at Mahar Regional School.
Second-seeded Turners Falls (10-2) will take on top-seeded Pathfinder Vocational High School in the Super Bowl Saturday morning at 10 at Westfield State University. Pathfinder (12-0) advanced with an 8-6 win over Easthampton High School in Tuesday’s other Division IV semifinal.
Turners has been dominant on offense of late, but the team took it to a different level against third-seeded Ware (7-4), scoring on all five of its six possessions, save for its final one in the fourth quarter when the Indians took a kneeldown to end the game.
John Ollari scored the first two Turners touchdowns of the game and added another in the fourth quarter to finish with three scores on the night. Wilder, meanwhile, added two scores, but his claim to fame came in the third quarter, when he took a handoff for nine yards and on the play surpassed former Greenfield High School quarterback Peter Bergeron’s all-time single-season area rushing record.
Bergeron rushed for 1,851 yards back in 1995, but Wilder, with an 18-carry, 121-yard performance Tuesday, broke the record and now sits at 1,905 yards on the season.
While the Indians’ offense was clicking, the defense also played well, especially in the second half when it limited the Ware offense to just five first downs and no points.
“They came through when they had to,” Turners coach Chris Lapointe said afterward.
Turners held a narrow 14-8 lead entering the second half, but took the opening kickoff of the third quarter and immediately stretched the lead to two scores after it allowed Ware to score with two seconds left in the first half. Turners started the possession on its own 47 and needed just five plays to punch in a touchdown. Wilder did the honors from six yards out to cap a drive in which he rushed for 30 yards. Ollari caught the conversion pass from Malcolm Smith to put the Indians up 22-8.
The Indians then used a blocked punt on the next drive to set themselves up at the Ware 24, and it took them six plays this time to find the end zone. Wilder again punched in the score, this time from 14 yards out. Indian defender Smith would then pick off Ware quarterback Andrew Koczur on the next drive in the Turners end zone, and the Indians went on their final scoring drive of the night, this time moving the ball 80 yards in nine plays and capping it when Ollari scored from nine yards out.
Ollari finished with 52 rushing yards and 55 receiving yards on the night, while Smith wound up 4-for-6 passing for 77 yards.
Turners Falls scored on both of its first-half possessions. After holding Ware to a three-and-out on the game’s opening drive, the Indians took over on their own 29 and went to work, moving the ball 71 yards on five plays with the help of a 15-yard penalty on Ware for a late hit out-of-bounds. Turners faced third-and-one from the Ware 28 when Ollari took a handoff up the middle and was not to be stopped, breaking early tackles and getting into the clear for a 28-yard scoring run with 5:49 left in the first quarter. Ollari’s kick sailed wide right to keep the lead at 6-0.
Ware appeared to have something going on its second possession of the game, but the Turners defense stiffened just outside its red zone and stopped Ware on fourth-and-eight from the 27 when Koczur’s pass fell well wide of intended receiver Seth Beckland.
Turners took over at the 27 and went on a 10-play, 73-yard drive that ate 5:19 off the clock. After the Indians marched down the field on five rushing plays for their first score, they went to the air on the second. Smith was 3-for-3 for 54 yards on the drive, including a 13-yard touchdown strike over the middle to Ollari on fourth-and-10. Smith then found Ollari out wide on the two-point conversion attempt for a 14-0 lead with 6:18 to play in the opening quarter.
Any thoughts the rowdy Turners Falls contingent had of the game turning into a rout quickly went out the door, as Ware running back Zered McCoy and the rest of his teammates went on a methodical, 13-play, 50-yard drive to get on the board. The scoring play came on a third-and-19 from the Indians’ 25, when Koczur threw a screen pass that McCoy caught at the line of scrimmage and was nearly untouched as he ran down the left sideline to walk into the end zone with 2.7 seconds left before the half. Koczur ran in the two-point conversion attempt to cut Ware’s deficit to 14-8 at halftime. The poor defense on the play had Lapointe animated as his team trotted off the field.
“I just told you ‘screen,’” Lapointe screamed. “It’s third-and-forever and I’ve got guys jogging.”
McCoy was apparently injured on the final play, because he did not come back out for a play in the second half after picking up 74 yards on 12 hauls in the first half. Koczur finished 1-for-6 passing and added 46 rushing yards.
Notes: Light snow fell throughout the first half, but the precipitation trailed off by halftime. That made way for a sheet of fog that rolled in and draped the field throughout the second half. … The game was chippy, and it all started during the pregame when the teams appeared to exchange words near midfield. The teams accounted for 10 combined personal-foul penalties, (Ware six, Turners four). The Indians finished with eight penalties for 95 yards, while Ware had six for 71 yards.