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Belchertown crashes Woodward celebration

ORANGE — An inexperienced football team has been known to get away with a few mistakes against an average opponent. But it’s becoming clear that the 2012 Belchertown High School football team is anything but average.

The Orioles employed a devastating air attack and took advantage of some costly errors en route to a 35-7 win over Mahar Regional School on the host Senators’ Homecoming game Saturday afternoon at the newly-dedicated James S. Woodward Athletic Complex.

“(Belchertown) is a very good football team, but we gave them way too much,” Greg Scotland said as he hustled to the postgame locker room. “You can’t come out and give a team like that 14 or 21 points and expect to win the game. We just didn’t come out ready to play today, and I’m not sure why.”

The football field and surrounding track were formally dedicated in a half-time ceremony honoring current Mahar athletic director and former head football coach James Woodward, who recently retired from coaching after 37 years.

“This has been overwhelming,” Woodward said after the game. “It’s an incredibly special honor for myself and my family, and something I will never forget.”

Unfortunately for Woodward and the Mahar faithful, the Orioles came in determined to spoil the party while maintaining their unbeaten record, and they wasted no time, scoring on their second offensive series, which grew out of the first of two Oriole interceptions of Mahar quarterback Logan Barrett. Belchertown Quarterback Nick Leduc hit sophomore receiver Nick Mastorakis with a 38-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the series, and Leduc hit the extra point kick to make it 7-0.

Belchertown extended the lead late in the second quarter when Leduc hooked up with senior wideout James Ryan on another touchdown bomb, this one covering 52 yards. Leduc hit the extra-point kick to make it 14-0 at the half.

With the exception of the two long touchdown passes, the first half was relatively even, with Mahar moving the ball with a good deal of efficiency, mostly on the ground. The Senators wound up with 170 yards rushing on the day, but were unable to break the big gainer needed to seize the momentum from the high-flying Orioles.

The Senators had reason to feel hopeful coming out of the halftime break, which was extended because of the Woodward ceremony. Those hopes were quickly dashed in a disastrous third quarter that allowed Belchertown to put 21 more points on the board, the game out of reach. It started on the second series, when Leduc hooked up with Ryan again, this time on a 59-yard touchdown pass. Leduc’s point-after kick made it 21-0.

It was then that the roof began to really cave in on the Senators, who lost 17 yards on their first offensive play after the touchdown when the Mahar center snapped the ball before Barrett was ready. The Senators managed to recover the loose ball, but could get no further than their own 47 before turning it over on downs. Ryan took a hand-off on the next play and ran it up the left sideline for the touchdown. Leduc hit the extra-point kick to make it 28-0.

Mahar failed to cover the ensuing kickoff, which Belchertown recovered at the Senator 30. The Orioles took full advantage of the miscue on the next play, when Leduc hit Mastorakis for his second touchdown catch of the day. Ledus’s extra-point kick was good, making the score 35-0.

Developments seemed to go from bad to worse for the Senators on the next series, which began when Belchertown recovered another uncovered kick off, this time a squib kickoff that gave the Orioles the ball at the Mahar 42. Four plays later, Leduc hit Belchertown sophomore Jake Bradway with what looked like a 33-yard touchdown pass, but Bradway fumbled the ball in the end zone, resulting in a touchback that gave the Senators the ball at their own 20.

Mahar broke the shutout on the ensuing series, which ended when Barrett ran it in from 15 yards out. Karim El Miari kicked the extra-point to make it 35-7. El Miari got one more chance to get onto the score sheet late in the fourth quarter via a 27-yard field-goal attempt that was blocked by the Belchertown defensive line.

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