H.S. Football: Franklin Tech hangs tough in loss to Chicopee

  • Franklin Tech’s Bailey Young (24) breaks up a pass intended for Chicopee receiver Brendan Tadeo (1) in the first quarter Thursday night in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Franklin Tech running back Ryan Bergmann (21) cuts up the field against Chicopee in the first quarter Thursday night in Turners Falls.

  • Franklin Tech’s Ryan Bergmann, left, brings down Chicopee’s Steven Matta in the second quarter Thursday night in Turners Falls.

  • Franklin Tech’s Austin Demers dives on an onside kick return against Chicopee in the first quarter Thursday night in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Franklin Tech receiver Lucas Upham lines up under the lights Thursday night against Chicopee in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

  • Franklin Tech’s Bailey Young (24) looks for an opening on a run against Chicopee in the second quarter Thursday night in Turners Falls. STAFF PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

Staff Writer
Published: 9/19/2019 10:37:22 PM
Modified: 9/19/2019 10:37:09 PM

TURNERS FALLS — Control of the game was always just beyond Franklin Tech’s reach on Thursday night.

The Eagles bent but didn’t break on defense, although a pair of first-half turnovers on offense created a hole from which they were never able to climb out. Visiting Chicopee High School scored a pair of touchdowns on passes from Steven Matta to Tre’yon Tillman, the second coming on fourth down with the game still hanging in the balance in the fourth quarter. That score sealed the deal, lifting the Pacers to a 12-0 victory over Franklin Tech in a rare Thursday night independent football game.

“(Chicopee is) a Division 7 team and their schedule is tougher than what we’ll see this season so to hang with them in the fashion that we did, we’ve got some things to hang our hats on,” Franklin Tech head coach Joe Gamache said. “Defensively, we did a really nice job, I thought. They’ve got some good athletes, some good-sized linemen. And we were still right in the game with a chance in the fourth quarter.”

The Pacers (2-1) held decisive advantages in just about every statistical category except the scoreboard. Despite winning the time of possession battle by over 21 minutes (34:43-13:17), Chicopee led just 6-0 early in the fourth quarter. Facing fourth-and-4 from the Franklin Tech 7, the visitors called the same play as they did on their first touchdown of the game. Matta rolled out and found Tillman for the 7-yard score with 8:10 remaining that doubled the advantage to 12-0.

“It’s a one-score game until that point. If we make one play, we’ve got a chance to go down the field and win the game,” Gamache said. “We didn’t execute when we needed to.”

Franklin Tech (0-2) was unable to get traction on offense. The Eagles were limited to 100 yards, 87 of them coming from tailback Ryan Bergmann on the ground (13 carries). The hosts ran just 30 plays on offense compared to 61 for Chicopee, with their best drive coming early in the third quarter when they got the ball into Chicopee territory but had passes fall incomplete on third and fourth downs. Quarterback Owen Bashaw was limited to 2-for-9 passing for 10 yards and an interception.

The team’s first two possessions ended with turnovers, as Bashaw’s pass was intercepted on the first drive of the night and Bergmann lost a fumble on the team’s second offensive possession after a 14 yard gain.

“Those are killers, absolutely,” Gamache said of the miscues.

Chicopee tailback John Gonzalez Vega was the story for much of the night. The junior racked up the carries, finishing his night with 35 of them for 181 yards. Gonzalez Vega had 21 carries in the first half, and likely would’ve neared 40 totes had he not exited for a series with cramps in the third quarter.

The Pacers took a 6-0 lead late in the first quarter. After their opening drive stalled, they got the ball back thanks to the interception and needed six plays to march 30 yards. Tillman hauled in a 12-yard touchdown from Matta with 1:35 remaining.

Chicopee outgained Franklin Tech by a 295-100 margin while also holding a 17-5 edge in first downs.

After two independent losses to open the season, the Eagles get a chance to turn the page when Intercounty League North action kicks off next week at home against Monument Mountain (1-1).

“It was a gutsy effort out of our group,” Gamache said. “We made some mistakes and there are things we need to clean up. The league schedule starts up now. Hopefully, we can build on what we’ve seen so far and get ready to go.”

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