NORTH ADAMS — With two of its three senior captains sidelined by injury, the McCann Tech football team was put in a precarious position Saturday afternoon.
Without veteran signal-caller Mike Ferrara and explosive running back Max Mitchell, the Hornets turned to a host of sophomores and juniors to counter visiting Turners Falls. The Indians made big plays in key situations, and defensively never let McCann get going on their way to a 28-0 shutout.
McCann head coach Bob LeClair turned to sophomore quarterback Travis Dozier for his first varsity action, and he was primarily giving way to classmates Jason Delisle and Darian Tovani in the running game. Dozier was intercepted on the Hornets’ third offensive play of the game, but began making better and better decisions as the day wore on.
“Darius had some experience and did some good things for us today, Delisle runs hard and he’s deliberate with where he’s going” said LeClair. “[Dozier] did alright. As we went along he learned a lot. He had a big sigh of relief after the ballgame; he’s alive and healthy. Mike helped him out, telling him some things that he, himself had to learn as a sophomore. I’m pleased with his effort.”
Defensively, McCann Tech (0-3, 0-2 Tri-County) picked up its quarterback and didn’t allow any points off the opening turnover. Connor Berard registered a sack and Derek Clark got up at the line of scrimmage to bat down a pass attempt as the Indians were forced to punt and turn it over on downs on their first two possessions. Two touchdowns followed, though, and Turners (2-2) built up a 14-0 lead at halftime.
The game was all one step forward, two steps back for the young Hornets. Clark had another tackle in the backfield to force a potential three-and-out on Turners’ first possession in the second quarter of a scoreless game, but on fourth-and-six, quarterback Kyle Dodge hit Jaden Whiting in stride on an out-pattern for a 32-yard touchdown. Next up was a sack by Delisle and Andrew Koch, which forced a third-and-32 situation for the Indians, but again Dodge was up to the challenge. He lofted a pass just over the hands of a defensive back and into the gut of receiver Andy Craver for a 35-yard score.
The Hornets appeared far from out of things, driving from their own 35 to the Turners six on 10 plays, converting twice on third down and once on a 16-yard completion from Dozier to senior Tanner Davis. However, a sack on second-and-two drove McCann back and time expired before they could get back within striking range.
McCann continued to do some good things, like a 28-yard carry by Delisle, to start the third quarter. Three plays later, though, on fourth-and-14, the Hornets turned it right back over to Turners Falls. The defense did respond, forcing a three-and-out thanks to backfield plays by Josh Brazeau and Tadan Bolte. The punt, unfortunately, was mishandled and fumbled away in what amounted to a 23-yard gain for the visitors. With three running backs, the Indians pounded away until Marcus Sanders broke through some tackles on an 11-yard scoring rush to make it 21-0 with 5:24 left in the third.
“It’s an entire junior offensive line and they’re learning from this. You get thrown into the deep end of the pool,” said LeClair. “We’re going to keep working every day, playing every week and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The teams traded punts into the fourth quarter, but Turners was winning the field position battle. Starting from the home 44, the Indians found a way to convert on a third-and-20 and eventually a third-and-four on a 16-yard touchdown run, again by Sanders.
McCann had two more possessions in the quarter, but couldn’t claim a first down, leaving the Indians with their second victory.
Turners Falls 0 — 28
McCann Tech 0 0 0 0 — 0
TF — Jaden Whiting 32 pass from Kyle Dodge (kick blocked), 9:39
TF — Andy Craver 35 pass from Dodge (Jon Fritz from Dodge), 3:37
TF — Marcus Sanders 11 run (Tyler Lavin kick), 5:24
TF — Sanders 16 run (Lavin kick), 6:44.
First Downs 10 6
Rushes-yards 38-192 28-110
Passing yards 100 29
Comp-att-int 3-12-0 100 3-9-1 29
Fumbles-lost 1-0 3-1
Penalties-yards 5-60 2-20
RUSHING — TF: Marcus Sanders 13-78, John Torres 16-67, John Driscoll 4-26, Jaden Whiting 1-8, Kyle Dodge 2-8, Andy Craver 2-5. MT: Jason Delisle 17-73, Darius Tovani 10-29, Travis Dozier 1-8.
PASSING — TF: Dodge 3-12-0 100. MT: Dozier 3-9-1 29.
RECEIVING — TF: Whiting 2-65, Craver 1-35. MT: Tanner Davis 1-16, Alex Kimok 1-12, Cody Jordan 1-1.
Reach sports writer Mike Walsh at 413-496-6240 or @CLNS_Walsh.