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Ware edges Tech

TURNERS FALLS — This was a tough loss, no matter how you size it up.

Franklin County Technical School couldn’t take advantage of its opportunities and Ware High School got key interceptions at the end of each half to pull out a 7-6 Tri-County League victory Saturday at Franklin Tech.

The Eagles (2-4 overall, 1-2), who managed just 38 yards on 17 first-half offensive plays and trailed 7-0, came alive in the second half.

Gerald Richardson blocked a 29-yard field goal attempt to give the Eagles the ball at their own 25 with 4 minutes, 46 seconds left in the third quarter, and freshman quarterback C.J. Daignault directed a 12-play, 75-yard drive that he finished off with a 6-yard touchdown run. Daignault — making his first career start — rolled right, worked his way down the near sideline and dove from the 3, reaching the ball over the goal line before he landed out of bounds for the score.

Franklin Tech lined up for a 2-point conversion to take its first lead of afternoon, but Indians outside linebacker Zered McCoy tackled Jake Earl (17 carries, 86 yards) at the line of scrimmage to stop the try, allowing Ware to keep its tenuous one-point lead with 8:35 left in the game.

After forcing a subsequent three-and-out, the Eagles took over at their own 25 and drove to the Indian 21. On a second-and-7, Daignault (4-for-10, 51 yards) took a shot at the end zone but his pass went off the outstretched fingertips of Dale Daignault and Ware’s Jacob Hurlburt made a diving interception with 1:50 left. Two plays earlier, C.J. Daignault’s spectacular 31-yard TD run was wiped off the scoreboard by a block-in-the-back penalty at the 14.

Ware nearly lost the ball at its own 27 trying to run out the clock, when Koczur was stripped of the ball. Fortunately for the winners, the loose pigskin bounced off a Franklin Tech lineman and right to Indian tackle Justyn Koczur. Ware eventually was forced to punt it away from its 32 with 9 seconds remaining. A desperate Eagles squad loaded 10 players on the line of scrimmage to go for the block but punter Nick Kulig hauled in a high snap, sprinted to his right to beat the rush and sprinted 31 yards down the sideline to run out the clock. Earl appeared to injure his shoulder when knocking Kulig out of bounds at the Tech 37.

Ware scored on its opening first-quarter possession, a 12-play drive covering 69 yards and culminated in Andrew Koczur’s 2-yard sneak on foruth-and-goal-to-go. Hurlburt booted a low line drive on the extra point try that cleared the crossbar by two feet for what turned out to be the deciding point.

Franklin Tech, which punted on its first three possessions, caught a huge break after forcing a Ware punt with 1:23 left in the half. Earl returned the punt 38 yards and a late hit out of bounds by the Indians brought the ball all the way to the Ware 30 with 1:10 left.

Daignault connected with Dale Daignault on a crossing route to gain 20 yards, then he hit Nate Boyer on the sideline to pick up 12 yards and a first-and-goal at the 8 with 3.7 seconds left. On second-down, however, Daignault rolled to his right and tried to get the ball to receiver Drew Stebbins in the right corner, where Hurlburt stepped in front of Stebbins and picked off the underthrown pass at the goal line to end the half.

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