By Dennis Hackett
Reminder Publishing Staff Writer
SOUTH HADLEY – Despite freezing cold temperatures, the Longmeadow Youth Football Association Senior team won a nailbiter in the final minute of play against Westfield as part of a Super Bowl tripleheader at South Hadley High School on Saturday night.
The Knights earned their trip to the Super Bowl the Saturday prior with a win over Wilbraham in enemy territory at Spec Pond Recreation Center in Wilbraham (See photos from that game here).
In addition to the Senior team, Longmeadow was represented by the Junior and PeeWee teams in championship tilts against Westfield. The Junior and PeeWee teams fell short in the final game of their memorable seasons.
After Westfield took the opening kickoff at their own 41 and proceeded to take the first play from scrimmage inside the Longmeadow 30 yard line, the Knights forced a fumble on the next play.
Then Longmeadow methodically marched down the field, chewing up most of the clock in the first quarter and capped the drive off with a pass to the end zone that ricocheted off a defender’s hand and into the Knights’ receiver’s hands for the touchdown to take a 6-0 lead. The two-point attempt failed.
For the rest of the half, neither team could get anything going offensively until the final play of the half. With seconds left on the clock, quarterback Jaxson St. Pierre took the ball on a huge gain on a play that looked like he could score but was dragged down by the Longmeadow defenders to prevent a score.
To open the second half, Longmeadow went three-and-out and punted the ball to Westfield. The drive started with a huge run to set the Bombers up in Knights’ territory before a crucial fourth down.
On the play, St. Pierre tossed the ball on a deep corner route to his receiver to set Westfield up inside the Longmeadow five-yard line. The Bombers found a way to score two plays later to tie the game 6-6.
For the next quarter and a half, neither team could get any offense going until the final minute of play. With 34 seconds to play the Longmeadow quarterback set up in the pocket before hitting his receiver over the middle of the field. After getting a huge block on the outside the receiver took the ball 40 yards into the end zone for the touchdown to give the Knights a 12-6 lead.
Once Westfield got the ball back they turned the ball over on an interception just two plays later, sealing Longmeadow’s lone victory in Saturday’s slate of games.
The Peewee Bombers survived a nightmare scenario to start the game after fumbling on the first play from scrimmage and surrendering a huge run on the next play, coupled with two offsides penalties on back-to-back plays. However, the Bombers’ defense stood tall, forcing a turnover on downs to prevent a score.
Neither team had a chance to get on the board until halfway through the second quarter when Westfield intercepted the ball at the Knights’ 23-yard line. Then on the next play, the Bombers carried the ball into the end zone to secure a 6-0 lead. They managed to preserve the lead into the half.
After forcing another fumble on Westfield’s second drive of the third quarter, Longmeadow’s offense took command of the game with a huge run to set the Knights up at the 20-yard line. Two plays later, the Knights punched the ball into the end zone to tie the game at 6-all.
After a back-and-forth third quarter that saw the defense dominate on both sides after the Longmeadow touchdown, Westfield finally broke through in the fourth quarter. The Bombers took a huge run on a second down to the Knights’ 36 yard line before stalling out the drive until fourth down when the Knights jumped into the neutral zone to keep the Bombers’ drive alive. Two plays later, Westfield set themselves up with first-and-goal before scoring on the next play to take a 12-6 lead. Westfield secured the victory in the final moments of the game after forcing the Knights to turn the football over on downs with seconds to play.
In a defensive first quarter, neither side managed to get any offense going, resulting in a scoreless first frame of the game.
Westfield opened the second quarter with an interception of Longmeadow’s quarterback on the first play, before taking the ball right down the field and scoring the game’s lone touchdown and converting the only two-point play on the night to give themselves an 8-0 lead going into the half.
Defense paved the way for both sides throughout the remainder of the game until the final series of the game when Longmeadow was driving deep into Westfield territory. However, the Bombers picked the pass off on the final play of the game to secure the 8-0 victory.