Pittsfield slips past Mahar, 20-18
ORANGE — The Mahar football team was dealt a double-whammy in a 20-18 loss to Pittsfield, Friday night, at the James S. Woodward Athletic Complex.
With 43 second to play, Generals’ quarterback Kolbe Muzzy connected with Terrick Boire for a 26-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-seven play to give Pittsfield the win. To make matters worse for the Senators, star running back Clay Richardson suffered what appeared to be a serious ankle injury midway through the third quarter that seems likely to end his season.
Mahar entered the contest hoping to prove themselves as a playoff-caliber team, but it was the Generals who controlled much of the first half and led 8-0 at the break. The Senators proved resilient in the second half, however, and took their first lead of the night on an 8-yard touchdown run by Riley Gervais with 2:08 left to play.
The Generals began the eventual game-winning drive at their own 37 with 2:01 to play. A 19-yard run by Sam Sala moved Pittsfield into Mahar territory and Muzzy connected with Mason Papiro for a 11-yard gain down to the Mahar 29. A 3-yard run by Muzzy was followed by a pair of incompletions and the Senators were one play away from earning an impressive victory. On fourth down, Muzzy dropped back and fired downfield for Boire on a deep post route. The junior wideout went up above Gervais and came down with an improbable catch that left the Senators stunned.
“Our football team showed its true colors,” said Mahar head coach Greg Scotland. “We were tough in that fourth quarter. I’m proud of what this team has done all season. We have a lot of good kids who work together and we have a lot of fun doing it.”
The Senators had one last chance as they took over at their own 35 with 39 seconds to play. A pair of completions brought them to midfield, but it wasn’t meant to be as quarterback Sam Paul was dropped as time expired.
The Pittsfield defense held Richardson and Malik Adams under lock-and-key in the first half as the duo combined for just 44 yards before intermission. Richardson finally broke free for a 52-yard gain on Mahar’s first possession of the second half, but was dragged down awkwardly from behind and immediately called for the trainers. He finished the night with 79 yards on nine carries. If his season is in fact over, he’ll finish with 1,391 yards and 14 touchdowns on the year.
“I’m going to hope for the best,” said Scotland. “We’ll see what happens.”
With Richardson sidelined, Adams became the focal point of the offense. The senior running back entered the fourth quarter with just 17 yards on the night, but found his groove and finished with 75 yards on 20 carries. The 75 yards moved him past the 1,000-yard plateau for the season.
Mahar received the opening kickoff and quickly moved into Pittsfield territory. A holding penalty set them back, however, and they ended up punting it away.
Pittsfield used a heavy dose of Sala (24 carries, 145 yards) on their opening drive and Muzzy capped it with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Papiro. Brian Rodriguez ran in the conversion to give the Generals an 8-0 lead with 3:46 left in the first quarter.
Mahar punted again on its second possession, setting Pittsfield up at their own 36. A 34-yard run by Papiro on an option pitch had the Generals down to the Mahar 25 and looking poised to go up by two scores. Instead, Mahar linebacker Ryan Arsenault stripped Rodriguez and Chad Marcoux pounced on top to give the Senators the ball back.
The Senators offense still managed nothing, but the defense forced a three-and-out to give Mahar the ball back at their own 15. The Senators still couldn’t solve Pittsfield’s relentless defense, however, and punted the ball back.
Neither offense managed much for the remainder of the half and the teams headed for the locker room.
A failed onside kick gave Pittsfield possession at midfield to begin the second half, but Adams recovered an Edwin Rodriguez fumble. Three plays later, Richardson burst down the left sideline for 52 yards down to the Pittsfield 20. After Richardson was treated, play resumed with a 17-yard run by Gervais. Two plays later, Gervais knifed in for a 3-yard score. Adams was stopped on the conversion and the Senators trailed 8-6 with 3:29 left in the third quarter.
The Generals answered with a 12-play, 70-yard drive that Sala capped with a 4-yard plunge. The drive featured nine runs by Sala, but the conversion failed and Mahar trailed 14-6 with 9:30 remaining.
The Senators began their next drive at their own 36. Three consecutive runs by Adams generated a first down and Mahar moved the chains again on a sneak from Paul on fourth-and-one. After a sack on first down, Adams bursted through the line for a 16-yard gain — his longest of the night. Mahar was then aided by an unsportsmanlike penalty, giving them a first down and the Pittsfield 15. A 4-yard run by Ryan Donaldson and a 6-yard by Adams set up first and goal at the 5. Two plays later, Adams took a toss around the left side and darted into the end zone for a 3-yard score. The Senators tried a jump pass with Adams out of the “Wildcat” on the conversion, but he opted to pull it back down after not seeing Gervais in the back of the end zone and the Generals stuffed him to keep a 14-12 lead with four minutes to go.
The Mahar defense did its job as they forced a quick three-and-out. A short punt gave the Senators possession at the Pittsfield 35 with 2:53 to play. Adams carried for 5 and 11 yards before another unsportsmanlike penalty moved Mahar down to the Pittsfield 8. Gervais took the next play through the left side for the touchdown.
The Senators couldn’t hold on, however, as Muzzy hit Boire just 85 seconds later for the game-winner.
Mahar (7-3) is off until Thanksgiving Day when they will host rival Athol High School.