Raiders roll to third straight win; beat Smith Voke 39-12
ATHOL — The Red Raiders easily rolled to their third straight victory at a cold and windy O’Brien Field Friday night.
The Athol High School football team made quick and easy work of Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School, beating the Vikings, 39-12, and were never really challenged. Athol received the opening kickoff, which was squibbed on the ground and covered by the Raiders at their own 30-yard line. Five plays later, all runs, the Raiders were on the board on a Robbie Nelson blast up the middle in which he bounced of tacklers and shifted to the right for a 27-yard score. Bryce Melanson’s point after kick was good, and it was 7-0 Athol with 7:55 remaining in the first quarter.
After a defensive stand, the Raiders were on the move again, this time only needing two plays to reach pay dirt. On a second-and-10 from its own 16-yard line, quarterback Trever Mousseau gave the ball to running back Nick Casella, who bashed his way through the defensive line and took it down the right side, outrunning several Smith defenders who were in pursuit, for an 84 yard score. Melanson’s kick would miss wide left, but the Raiders were in cruise control and had a 13-0 lead as the first period expired.
Smith would strike back at the start of the second frame behind the strong running of backs Luis Perez and Cameron VanBuren. The Vikings were also aided by two huge penalties, an offsides on a third-and-1, and an illegal contact call that set Smith up with a first down at the Raiders’ 14. Four plays later, quarterback Jacob Erali took it in on a one-yard keeper, and it was 13-6 Raiders.
Athol would all but salt it away before the intermission, as it scored touchdowns on each of its next two possessions, while the defense held the Vikings to two four-and-outs.
Senior running back Shawn Smart would score both second quarter touchdowns for the Raiders, the first coming on 14-yard run on a first-and-ten with 5:08 remaining. The next was on a screen pass from Mousseau, and Smart made a great all-hands catch on the right sideline before cutting back to the middle of the field and plowing through defenders for a 24-yard score. Two-point conversions failed on each of the scores, but Athol took a 27-6 lead into the locker room and had all the momentum.
The Vikings took the second half kickoff and started at their own 30, and put on a beautiful sustained drive which again featured the hard, up-the-middle running of Perez and VanBuren, who finished the series with a one-yard plunge on third-and-goal. Smith used 8:43 on the drive, however, and left itself little time to mount anything resembling a comeback.
The Raiders would do their part to assure that no such comeback would be forthcoming, as they tacked on two fourth quarter touchdowns. With 6:06 remaining in the contest, Mousseau recorded his second touchdown pass of the night as he hit a wide-open Carter Amadon in the right corner of the end zone on a first-and-goal from the 9, through a hard, swirling wind.
The last score would come with just under three and a half minutes remaining, as Nelson again put on a show. On a first-and-10 from the Athol 46, he cut left and rumbled down the sideline for 43 yards before being dragged down at the three. On the next play he finished what he started, going right up the middle for the three yard score, and the 39-12 lead that would be the final.
It has been a nice three game stretch for the Raiders, who after an opening night win at Narragansett dropped six straight. Athol will face a much larger test in its annual Turkey Day tilt versus Mahar Regional School, but if history is any indicator, they will be ready for the challenge.