Eagles fly past Wave, 44-30
GREENFIELD — Greenfield High School just didn’t have an answer for Lucius Burrell.
The Easthampton High School running back ripped off 249 yards on 22 carries and scored four touchdowns and the Eagles knocked off the Green Wave, 44-30, in an Intercounty League football game Friday night at chilly Veterans Memorial Field.
The loss moves Greenfield behind Franklin County Technical School in the WMass Division VI rankings and the Green Wave will need help moving forward if it is going to qualify for the four-team tournament. Easthampton all but assured itself of qualifying for the WMass Division V playoffs with the win.
Burrell scored on an 11-yard run with 8 minutes, 13 seconds left in the fourth quarter to snap a 30-30 tie after Greenfield came back from a 30-14 deficit at halftime to tie the score. And while neither team’s defense had much of an answer for the other team’s offense, it was the Eagles’ defense — and Noah Gendron in particular — that made a pair of plays when Easthampton most needed it.
Following the Burrell touchdown that gave Easthampton a 38-30 lead, Greenfield tried to answer but had its drive stopped when Gendron picked off a pass from Green Wave quarterback Connor Eckstrom (8-for-20, 153 yards, one touchdown, three interceptions) at the Eagles’ 45. Perhaps it has something to do with Halloween being less than a week away, but the Eagles were in a giving mood, as they coughed up the ball on the very first play of the ensuing drive to give the Green Wave new life. In what was almost a replay of the prior Greenfield drive, Eckstrom went back to pass on the second play of the new set of downs and again threw off his back foot, and again Gendron was there to make him pay, this time picking off the ball at the 48. Gendron was in the game due to an injury to starter Hunter Leveille.
Seven plays later Burrell was busting up the middle on a fourth-and-goal from the Greenfield 4 for his final touchdown of the night with 1:37 left to seal the win. It capped off a huge night for the Eagles’ running game, which included 90 yards from Alec Perrone, and finished the night with 409 team rushing yards and six touchdowns.
“Our running game has been phenomenal all season long,” Easthampton coach Joe Kocot said. “Every opponent is different, but we try to keep it so that you can never really dial in on one back.”
Burrell, who went over 1,000 yards on the season on the night, needed every one of those touchdowns to ensure his team’s win and the berth in the WMass Division V tournament that came with it. Greenfield (5-2 overall, 4-1 IL) came back from a 30-14 halftime deficit to tie the score in the third quarter. The Green Wave took the kick in the second half and it looked like the drive was going to get stopped at the Easthamton 42, but Greenfield punter Robin Marchese rushed to his right on a fake punt and wound up going 42 yards for a touchdown that pulled the Green Wave to within a score at 30-22. Greenfield would capitalize on a Easthampton fumble on the ensuing drive and took over at its own 41. It looked like Greenfield had scored a touchdown on a third-and-22 play from its own 44 later in the drive when Eckstrom hit Max Pirozhkov across the middle, but a block-in-the-back penalty negated the touchdown. Greenfield did go on to finish the drive and Brayten Stack (11 carries, 54 yards) scored from 4 yards out to tie the score.
“Our kids showed a lot of character tonight,” Greenfield coach Mike Kuchieski said. “We’ve got nothing to hang our heads about. That’s a good football team over there. These kids should be proud. They overcame adversity and got back into the ball game. They played with a lot of heart.”
Easthampton led 16-0 in the first quarter on two touchdown runs from Burrell, but Greenfield came back to get on the board with less than a minute in the frame on a 42-yard touchdown strike from Eckstrom to Lew Borden. Easthampton responded in the second quarter with a 1-yard scoring run from Perrone, but Greenfield came back to get a 5-yard scoring run from Eckstrom to make it 22-14 Easthampton. The Eagles would add a final touchdown of the first half with 44 seconds left when Leveille took a pitch off an option play and went 65 yards for a score.
Easthampton will try to finish off the regular season with a win over Ludlow High School. Greenfield, which lost both Noah Foster Marquis (concussion) and Lew Borden (lower body) to injuries on the night, takes on Mahar Regional School.