By Kevin McCaskill Jr.
9/10/22 * 2:00 PM
(WILBRAHAM) - The 2022 MIAA football regular season kicked off in Hampden County on Friday. The West Springfield Terriers travelled to Wilbraham to take on the Minnechaug Regional Falcons. Minnechaug fans came out and represented for their football team.
This was the first game of the season and it was apparent in the gameplay. Both teams had multiple pre-snap penalties. There were many yellow flags thrown pre-snap and during the play.
Neither team scored in the 1st quarter. Both defenses were aggressive going after whoever had the ball. Minnechaug’s DL got a lot of pressure on West Springfield QBs Nate Stone and Jonny Gingerhua. Stone and Gingerhua got an equal amount of snaps @ QB on Friday night. I spoke to West Springfield HC Chad Labonte after the game and he said he will play both QBs and likes that “teams have to prepare for [both]”.
In the 2nd quarter, the game was still scoreless. Minnechaug forced West Springfield to punt on a 4th down. The longer snapper snapped the ball over the punter’s head. Players from both teams rushed to get the loose football. Minnechaug came out of the scrum with the ball. The Falcons were set up to score the game’s first points.
Minnechaug was called for a false start penalty to start the drive. The next play was a 7 yard run for a touchdown by Isaiah Kozub. The PAT was blocked by West Springfield. The Falcons had a 6-0 lead they held into halftime.
In the 3rd quarter, West Springfield finally got into the game. Gingerhua ran for a touchdown. The Terriers were called for a penalty on the PAT. The coaching staff decided to go for two. Evan Villalongo ran the ball up the middle, into the endzone. West Springfield was ahead 8-6.
The game moved to the 4th quarter. Each team had a few possessions but neither could score. West Springfield got a good drive going, using both their QBs. Stone got the snap in the shotgun. He rolled to his right and launched a pass. His pass was intercepted by Minnechaug’s Sean Murphy. Murphy returned the ball, up the sideline, for a TD! Kozub ran the ball in for the two-point conversion. Minnechaug led 14-8.
On West Springfield’s next possession, Stone threw another INT. That mistake didn’t end the game though. Minnechaug fumbled the ball on the QB/RB handoff and West Springfield recovered the ball.
The Terriers couldn’t capitalize on their last opportunity and the Falcons stopped them on 4th down with 1:24 left in the game. Minnechaug QB Jack Lucarelle kneeled a few times and Minnechaug won their first game of the season 14-8.
Minnechaug hosts Tantasqua next week. West Springfield is on the road again @ Chicopee Comp.