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Indians roll past Ludlow

TURNERS FALLS — Any team that encounters the Turners Falls High School football team this year had better be prepared to play defense — and even then, it might not be enough to contain them.

Turners Falls torched Ludlow High School for 354 yards total offense en route to a 35-20 Intercounty League football win at their home opener Friday night at Bourdeau Field.

The Indians (2-0 overall, 2-0 IL) didn’t waste any time getting on the scoreboard, with a surgical, 7-play, 61-yard opening drive, which ended with the first of two Malcolm Smith touchdown passes to sophomore back Jalen Sanders. Melvin Moreno booted the first of his two extra points on the night to make it 7-0.

Ludlow (1-2, 1-2) appeared like it would pick up where it left off with last week’s anemic offensive performance against Frontier, sputtering badly on its first two series. Turners would score again on its third series when junior back Trent Bourbeau took it in from three yards out. Bourbeau was dominant in the backfield for the Indians, racking up 173 of Turners’ 250 ground yards on 23 carries.

Things got interesting in the second quarter when Ludlow made an offensive adjustment and abandoned the faltering pass game in favor of a series of sweep runs which spread the Turners defense and gave backs Brian Pacheco and Dustin Martin room to run. Ludlow moved the ball almost at will in a dominant 65-yard third series, which ended when quarterback Daniel Rodrigues hit Pacheco with a 6-yard touchdown pass. Pacheco ran in the two-point conversion to make it 14-8.

Turners would extend the lead to 20-8 on the next series, when Smith (5 carries, 41 yards) took it in from five yards out. Moreno’s kick fell short of the uprights, keeping the score 20-8 heading into halftime.

The Indians would push the lead to 26-8 in the third quarter, taking advantage of a Ludlow fumble and rolling up a neat, 11-play, 62-yard drive, which ended with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Sanders. Smith (7-for-12 passing for 104 yards) hit Sanders (5 catches, 52 yards, 4 carries, 30 yards) for the two-point conversion pass and the rout appeared to be on.

Ludlow would cut the lead to 28-14 on a Pacheco 15-yard touchdown run on the next series, but the Lions would make things even more interesting four plays later, when Pacheco ran a Turners punt back 87 yards to the end zone to make the score 28-20. The Indians were not phased, however, and Smith led them back on the next offensive series, which ended with his 1-yard touchdown run and conversion pass to Sanders to create the 36-20 final.

Smith sealed the deal by intercepting Rodrigues late in the fourth, before handing things over to Bourbeau, who put up 44 yards on the final five carries to run out the clock.

After the game, Turners coach Chris Lapointe said Ludlow’s running game was as strong as he expected it would be, and was tough to defend at times.

“We went too vertical up field and we needed to come up flatter, and we just weren’t completing our assignments very well,” Lapointe said. “We expected it because they have good backs, and they played hard and came to win.”

Lapointe was impressed by the strong performances of Bourbeau and Smith, who showcased his strong arm a number of times, to the point of overthrowing his receivers on more than one occasion.

“Trent is a powerful back and he comes to work every day,” Lapointe said. “And Malcolm is a great leader and has a great arm, and we need to work on the receiving routes, but that’s definitely going to be one of our weapons moving forward.”

Turners takes on league rival Frontier Regional School Friday night at 7 at Bourdeau Field.

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