Warriors rally past Eagles
Moh 32 Stephen Reynolds
Moh 18 Andrew Doty breaks up pass intended for FCTS 5 Drew Stebbins in end zone
FCTS 4 CJ Daignault reaches for the score
BUCKLAND — It may have been one of the most monumental comebacks in the history of the Mohawk Trail Regional High School football team. At least on Friday night, it felt like it.
The Warriors rallied back from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit and kept their postseason hopes alive in the process with a 32-20 victory over Franklin County Technical School in a Tri-County League football game at packed Pollard Field.
Both teams did their best to give away the game, which was tied at 6-6 coming out of the halftime break. First up was Mohawk, which had a pair of fumbles deep in its own territory turn into 14 Franklin Tech points, the second of which was finished off by Tech running back Kyle Laffey on a fourth-and-goal run from the 1-yard line that put the Eagles up 19-6. Nate Crocker’s second extra point in three attempts on the night put the Eagles up 20-6 with 7 minutes, 1 second remaining in the game.
Mohawk’s chances of making the postseason were getting dimmer by the minute. While the game was not make-or-break for the Warriors, both teams entered the game tied for fourth place in the WMass Division VI rankings, so a loss would have left Mohawk needing help in the final three weeks of the regular season to get into the postseason.
Andrew Doty and the rest of the Warriors wanted none of that.
Mohawk began the ensuing drive from its own 33 and Doty (5-of-7 passing, 152 yards) immediately dropped back to pass and found Luke Bissell in stride streaking down the sideline to his left. Bissell outraced the corner and safety in coverage for a 67-yard touchdown catch that swung the momentum back in Mohawk’s favor.
“That’s a hell of a time to blow coverage,” Franklin Tech head coach Joe Gamache said on the sideline, sensing the momentum shift.
The coach was correct. With Tech’s lead cut to 20-12 following Mohawk’s failed two-point conversion, the Eagles’ next possession began at their own 29 and Laffey (134 yards, two TDs) was on the sideline for the first play after suffering a shoulder injury. While Laffey sat out only the first play, the Eagles went three-and-out and were forced to punt from their 34. That’s when Doty made his second big play in a matter of minutes, when he raced up the middle and met Eagle punter C.J. Daignault just as the ball left Daignault’s foot. The blocked punt shot directly back toward the Tech end zone and Doty never broke stride, scooping the ball on the 10 and walking untouched into end zone. Mohawk again failed on the two-point conversion and still trailed 20-18 with 4:48 remaining.
As if things hadn’t already been interesting enough, that’s when Mohawk coach Doug McCloud pulled out the onside kick. The ball took a perfect bounce for Mohawk and Warrior lineman Leroy Page blew up the Franklin Tech lineman trying to make a play. Mohawk’s Jake Orzechowski beat Franklin Tech’s Jonathan Rawls to the loose ball and set up the Warriors for the go-ahead score.
“I figured they thought we were going to kick it deep,” McCloud said of the play. “Their lineman doesn’t have the best hands in the world. I always kick it to Leroy’s side. The only reason I went to that side was because I knew Leroy was going to hit somebody, and give us a chance to recover the ball.”
Things looked like it would stall out for the Warriors, following a 15-yard personal foul call against Javius Johnson that left Mohawk in a third-and-30. But Franklin Tech’s John Hall bailed out the Warriors when he was called for a personal foul of his own following the third-down play that would have left Mohawk to punt on fourth-and-long. Instead, Mohawk got a first down at the Tech 42 and, following a 36-yard pass from Doty to Alex Dekoschak, Keith Whitaker punched in the go-ahead score from three yards out. Doty then found Dekoschak on the two-point play for a 26-20 lead with 1:49 left. The Warriors iced the game 23 seconds later when Doty picked off a Daignault offering at the Tech 35 and returned it for a touchdown.
Franklin Tech (4-2 overall, 4-1 TCL) now finds itself in a must-win situation next Saturday when it hosts unbeaten McCann Technical High School at 1. Mohawk (5-1, 5-1 TCL) is on a bye week and next hosts Ware High School at 7 p.m. on Oct. 25.