Eagles outlast Athol, 28-20

  • Athol’s Ryan White (20) wraps up Franklin Tech running back Bailey Young (24) during second-quarter action of the host Eagles’ 28-20 football win Saturday in Turners Falls. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Above, Franklin Tech QB Seth Aldrich (4) stiff-arms Athol’s Dylan Castine (33) during the first quarter of a 28-20 home football win Saturday in Turners Falls. Below, Franklin Tech’s Bailey Young (24) jumps up for an interception over Athol’s Mason Barrieau (41) in the second quarter. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Franklin Tech running back Bailey Young (24) reaches over the goal line for a 2-yard TD run against Athol in the second quarter Saturday in Turners Falls. The host Eagles won, 28-20. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Franklin Tech’s Bailey Young (24) jumps up for an interception over Athol’s Mason Barrieau (41) in the second quarter of the host Eagles’ 28-20 football win Saturday in Turners Falls. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Franklin Tech wideout Tony Govan Jr. (5) stretches for a first down run against Athol during first-quarter action of his host Eagles’ 28-20 football win Saturday in Turners Falls. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Franklin Tech’s Spencer Telega (42) pushes through Athol defenders Mason Barrieau (41), Ryan White (20) and Robbie Nelson (44) during first-quarter action of the host Eagles’ 28-20 football win Saturday in Turners Falls. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Athol QB Keegan Lutz (22) hands off to Ronnie Nelson (44) during second-quarter action of a 28-20 football loss to host Franklin Tech Saturday in Turners Falls. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Athol’s Kris Selanis (79) punts against Franklin Tech in the second quarter of a 28-20 football loss to the host Eagles Saturday in Turners Falls. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Athol’s Mason Barrieau (41) runs upfield on a kick return during second-quarter action of a 28-20 football loss to host Franklin Tech Saturday in Turners Falls. RECORDER STAFF/DAN LITTLE

Recorder Staff
Published: 10/15/2017 10:36:34 PM

TURNERS FALLS — A pair of late second-quarter touchdowns just 29 seconds apart staked Franklin County Technical School to a commanding halftime lead it did not relinquish Saturday.

Although visiting Athol High School came charging back with a much-improved second half, the host Eagles made the stops when they needed to, and in turn picked up a solid 28-20 Intercounty League North Division football win.

“We’re still young and still learning how to win football games,” explained FC Tech coach Joe Gamache, whose team improved to 3-3, 2-2 in the IL North. Gamache, an Athol native, said it was the program’s historic first victory against Athol. “Now that we’ve started to win a few, we need to do a better job of finishing, but I’m proud of the effort from the team.”

Trailing 7-6 after one quarter, the Eagles went through a roller coaster of emotions in the second frame. On the opening play of the quarter, sophomore wide receiver Tony Govan Jr. took an ill-fated reverse around the left side of the field. The shifty Govan Jr. was injured on the tackle, and was down on the field for more than 30 minutes awaiting an ambulance called to the scene. Gamache reported later Saturday that Govan Jr. broke his arm, would have surgery on Tuesday and will miss the remainder of the season.

“We’ve already had two kids leave in ambulances this season so, unfortunately, the rest of the kids have seen this play out before,” explained Gamache of the injury. “It’s very difficult to watch something like that happen but the kids responded and it’s a tribute to them that they were able to refocus.”

Just three plays after play resumed, FC Tech took its first lead of the afternoon when quarterback Seth Aldrich hit Colby Mailloux for a 10-yard touchdown pass on fourth and goal to put the hosts on top 14-7.

After forcing a punt from Athol (1-5, 0-4), the FC Tech offense went to work again. Aldrich connected on three passes during a 9 play, 66-yard drive that culminated in a 2-yard touchdown run from Bailey Young 1:57 left before halftime to give the Eagles a 20-7 advantage.

While Athol had its sights on marching down and cutting into the deficit before halftime, disaster struck when a bad snap on the first play from scrimmage resulted in a fumble. Deven Goshea pounced on the loose ball, recovering it at the Athol 24.

After Aldrich (6-for-10, 104 yards) hit Jared Bergmann for a 23-yard gainer on first down, the Eagles extended their lead when Spencer Telega (19 carries, 58 yards) bulled in from 1-yard out. Aldrich added the two-point conversion run, and in the span of just 29 seconds, FC Tech had a pair of touchdowns and a commanding 28-7 lead into halftime.

“To come away with a couple scores before halftime, that was some nice momentum going into the locker room,” admitted Gamache. “We had hoped that might deflate Athol, but they certainly didn’t go away.”

Indeed, the Red Raiders did not allow the game get away from them. On the opening third-quarter possession, Athol rode the legs of tailback tandem Robbie Nelson (19 carries, 88 yards) and Mason Barrieau (14 carries, 100 yards) for an eight-play drive that was strictly on the ground. Barrieau’s 45-yard kickoff return put his team in good field position, and Nelson eventually capped the drive with a 1-yard TD that cut the lead to 28-14 with 7:19 left in the third quarter.

“Obviously you have to give credit to Athol,” Gamache offered. “They didn’t quit, down three scores. They shut us down in the second half and made it interesting.”

FC Tech was unable to finish back-to-back drives that ended just shy of the red zone, and Athol pulled within one score with 1:17 remaining in the fourth quarter. Nelson scored his third touchdown of the afternoon from 9 yards out, as QB Keegan Lutz connected on two passes to help extend the drive.

Nelson’s touchdown made it a 28-20 game. Then Athol recovered Kris Selanis’ onside kick at the FC Tech 49 with 1:12 left and a chance to tie the game. But Lutz’s first-down pass was intercepted by Telega, his second pick of the day, and the Eagles were able to pick up one first down and run out the clock for the 28-20 win.

Nelson had opened the scoring on the first Athol drive of the game. After the Eagles lost a fumble on the opening first-quarter play from scrimmage, Athol cashed in on a 5-yard Nelson run to put the visitors on top quickly, 7-0, with 8:46 left.

FC Tech got on the board with 3:54 left in the first quarter, when Young (17 carries, 104 yards) took a toss to the right side and broke the plane to cut the lead to 7-6.

Aldrich had arguably his best game of the season, throwing for 104 yards and a touchdown while also totaling 37 yards on the ground on six carries.

“Seth played within himself today,” Gamache lauded. “He went through his progressions and reads and made smart decisions. It was night and day from (the previous week’s 41-14 loss to Frontier Regional School). We had a lot of conversations this week in practice and he definitely showed that he was listening.”

Athol hosts Greenfield High School Friday night, while the Eagles also stay at home and turn their sights to Turners Falls High School Saturday at 1 p.m. in a battle for Powertown bragging rights on Booster Day.

“They only have 18 kids dressed but they bring it for an entire game,” said Gamache of Turners Falls. “We have to improve and be ready to play because they’re a tough team.”




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