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Franklin Tech holds off Green Wave, 19-16

TURNERS FALLS — The Franklin County Technical School football team very nearly got a taste of what the Mahar Senators experienced two weeks ago at the hands of the “cardiac kids” from Greenfield High School.

Greenfield spotted Tech a two-touchdown lead late in the fourth quarter, but very nearly made another miraculous comeback before falling to the Eagles, 19-16, in an independent football game in Turners Falls Saturday afternoon.

“That was pretty scary at the end there,” Franklin Tech coach Joe Gamache said. “But I’m proud of the way our kids played today, especially after what happened last week and that tough loss (to Mohawk). They never gave up.”

Despite the dramatic ending, this was a somewhat listless, sloppily played contest which featured a total of eight fumbles, six of which were turnovers. One of the more baffling miscues came from an overthrown lateral pass from Greenfield quarterback Connor Eckstrom to Max Pirozhkov, a play which mirrored a similar first-half throw by Franklin Tech quarterback Ethan Wickline, which sailed over the head of the intended receiver and went out of bounds, costing Tech eleven yards.

Franklin Tech (7-3) opened the scoring with 1.3 seconds to go in the first quarter, when senior back Kyle Laffey took it in from a yard out. Laffey was once again Gamache’s main workhorse, rushing 27 times for 177 of the Eagles’ 192 rushing yards. Nate Crocker’s extra-point kick sailed left, keeping the score 6-0.

One of the more intriguing questions in this game was how the Greenfield running game would fare against a pretty tough and physical Tech defense. The answer was “not well,” as the Eagles’ front line and linebackers pretty much bottled up the Wave’s ground game, holding Greenfield to just 13 total rushing yards. The most effective back for Greenfield was Jordan York-Welcome, who finished with seven carries for 25 yards, an output which pretty much negated by two other Green Wave running backs who were held to a combined minus-22 yards rushing.

Greenfield’s best offensive bet would, once again, lie with Eckstrom’s arm, which gave the Wave its only lead of the day early in the second quarter. Senior wideout Garrett Hudson managed to turn a pass thrown behind him on a crossing pattern into a circus catch that ended with a 50-yard touchdown. Eckstrom hit Pirozhkov with the two-point conversion pass to give Greenfield an 8-6 lead heading into halftime.

Both teams were held scoreless in a very uneven third quarter, but Tech regained the lead early in the fourth when Laffey ran it off left tackle for a 34-yard touchdown. Wickline lost control of the ball just before going into the end zone on the point-after run, keeping the score 12-8. The Eagles appeared to put the game away two series later, when Laffey scored on a nine-yard touchdown run and Crocker kicked the extra point to make it 19-8, but it turned out that the fun was just beginning.

Greenfield got the ball back and proceeded to march down the field in just over 1:15, before Eckstrom hit Parker Hickey over the middle for a 20-yard touchdown pass. Eckstrom then hooked up with Hudson for the two-point conversion pass to make the score 19-16. The Wave then recovered the onside kick at the Franklin Tech 48. After a fumbled snap, which the Wave recovered, and a near game-ending interception by Wickline, Eckstrom got two more shots at the end zone, throwing deep to Robin Marchese and Hickey on third and fourth downs respectively. Both receivers cleanly beat their defenders and were wide open, but the passes were overthrown, giving Tech the ball back and the 19-16 home victory.

“We came close at the end there,” Greenfield coach Mike Kuchieski said, whose team fell to 6-4. “I liked our effort in the fourth quarter, and I would have liked to have seen a similar effort in the first three quarters. But I think our guys played hard today, but we just came up short to a good football team.”

Both teams will be on the road for Thanksgiving. Franklin Tech travels to Pioneer, while Greenfield plays at Turners Falls.

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