Turners Falls bounces back, dumps Red Raiders, 34-6

  • Above, Turners Falls’ fullback John Driscoll breaks through the Athol line on his way to the end zone for the second touchdown of the game as the hosts beat Athol High School, 34-6, in an Intercounty League North Division football game Friday night in Turners Falls. Below, junior quarterback Kyle Dodge drops back to pass during his first win as a varsity starter. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Turners quarterback Kyle Dodge hands off to John Driscoll during Friday night’s 34-6 victory over Athol in IL North action in Turners Falls. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Athol running back Mason Barrieau sweeps around the end for a first-half touchdown against Turners Falls but the Red Raiders never found the end zone again during a 34-6 IL North loss Friday night in the Powertown. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Turners Falls running back Marcus Sanders finds daylight on the other side of the line as he takes off for a big gain during Turners’ 34-6 IL North win over Athol Friday night in the Powertown. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Turners quarterback Kyle Dodge drops back to pass during Friday night’s 34-6 victory over Athol in IL North action in Turners Falls. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Athol’s Mason Barrieau gets out in the open as the Turners Falls defense chases in pursuit, but it was Turners Falls in front in the end, 34-6, in IL North action Friday night in Turners Falls. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

For The Recorder
Published: 9/15/2017 11:28:04 PM

TURNERS FALLS — Going into a football game with only 16 healthy players in uniform is a hard way to live, but Turners Falls High School used that dilemma to not only survive, but thrive, in its Intercounty League North opener Friday night.

The three-headed backfield group of Marcus Sanders, John Driscoll and John Torres each topped the 100-yard rushing mark and accounted for all five Turners touchdowns as the hosts whipped Athol High School, 34-6, at the Bourdeau Fields Complex.

Turners (1-1, 1-0 IL North) bounced back nicely from a season-opening loss at Lee High School last week, by almost the identical score (35-8) as Friday’s win.

“We’ve got some great athletes, and we’re just trying to figure out the pieces of the puzzle,” said Turners coach Chris Lapointe. “As coaches, we’ve put our brains together and tried to mold it into what works for them, and put them in the best place to succeed.”

Turners swung the game its way in the span of just over two minutes early in the second quarter. Sanders (12 carries, game-high 137 yards) capped a 12-play, 72-yard drive with a 12-yard scoring run with 10 minutes, 10 seconds left in the first half. Tyler Lavin tacked on the extra point for a 7-0 lead.

Three plays later, Liam Driscoll came up with a leaping interception of Athol freshman quarterback Keegan Lutz, giving Turners the ball at its own 47. On second-and-5 from the Red Raiders’ 48, John Driscoll took a quick-hitter handoff from Kyle Dodge and burst straight up the middle, virtually untouched, for the second score of the night at a 14-0 lead at the 7:59 mark.

Athol (0-2, 0-1 IL North) managed to hit back before the half on a 55-yard drive of its own, keyed by gains of 17 yards by Mason Barrieau and 16 by Lutz. Barrieau finished it with a toss sweep around the right side from 5 yards away, pulling the Raiders within 14-6 with 2:07 to play, following a missed extra point.

The hosts still had enough time to beat the halftime gun, helped along by Sanders’ 52-yard gain on first down that put the ball at the Athol 28. Sanders did it himself once again on a 13-yard run with only 26.1 seconds on the clock, allowing Turners to go to the locker room ahead 21-6.

At the top of the second half, Athol moved as far as the Turners’ 19 before an illegal-procedure call and two tackles for loss knocked the Red Raiders back to the 37 for a punt. Sanders returned the kick 27 yards to his own 31, then Turners ran the ball on nine consecutive snaps, ending with a third TD run by Sanders, this one for 9 yards, and a 28-6 lead with 53 seconds to go in the third quarter.

Athol’s last best chance came after Kris Selanis scooped up a Turners fumble and ran it back 55 yards to the 11-yard line, with only a saving tackle by Dodge keeping the Red Raiders from the end zone. Two plays later, Liam Driscoll came up with his second pick of the night in the end zone, creating a touchback and a Turners possession at its own 20.

Once again, Turners gashed the Athol defense with a 10-play, 80-yard drive, getting a 7-yard scoring run by Torres with 1:50 to play for the final points of the night.

Torres finished with 118 yards on 16 carries and John Driscoll was right behind with 110 yards on 13 carries. For the night, Turners held a 372-104 edge in total offense. Most of Athol’s production came from Barrieau, with a team-high 92 rushing yards on 13 carries.

“Our seniors have to ask themselves what type of season they want,” said Athol coach Bill LaRose, whose team has been outscored 68-6 over the first two weeks. “We need to get back to the drawing board and do what’s made us successful, and that’s hard work. If we don’t show up and work hard, we’re not going to turn things around very quickly.”

Both teams can now look forward to early-season meetings with their traditional Thanksgiving Day rivals on Friday night, with Turners visiting Greenfield High School and Athol hosting Mahar Regional School.

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