Miscues hurt Dogs in first league loss
WESTMORELAND — Mistakes in a close football game hurt the Westmoreland football team as the Bulldogs came up on the short side of a 34-28 Class D Central decision against Sauquoit Valley on Saturday.
It was the Bulldogs’ first league loss of the season, dropping them to a 2-1 D Central record and a 2-4 overall mark. The Indians improved to 3-1 in the league and 4-2 overall.
“They didn’t beat us doing anything we didn’t know they were going to do,” said Westmoreland head coach Tim Gates. “With our three turnovers in the fourth quarter, it’s tough to win a close football game when you do that.”
One of those turnovers came at third-and-five at the Indians’ 17-yard line. Westmoreland quarterback Mike Sweeney’s pass was intercepted by Anthony Delmedico as he hauled to their 47.
On second-and-goal at the 6 in the same possession, Liam Evans handed to Ben Vanderpool to score and the two-point conversion failed to tie the game at 28-all.
Another turnover came at third-and-five at the Bulldogs’ 25 yard line. Sweeney fumbled the ball that was recovered by the Indians Vanderpool at the 15.
After a penalty for too many men on the field against Westmoreland, Liam Evans handed off to Garrett Evans for the go-ahead score from 10 yards out. The two-point conversion run by Vanderpool was good to put the game away.
“I’ve been coaching for a long time,” said Sauquoit Valley head coach Joe Ingils.
“To come out with the never-say-die attitude each week, you can’t coach it. This is the greatest group of kids. I’m so proud of those kids, I can’t stand it.”
From the very beginning, it was a volley between the Indians and Bulldogs, with Westmoreland taking the early lead.
The Bulldogs converted on their first possession of the game as Sweeney heaved a pass to Cory Andron just outside the end zone from the Indians’ 25 yard line. On the keeper, Sweeney scored the two-yard run and the PAT kick by Joseph Schreck was successful.
Immediately answering back, Indians Liam Evans handed off to Garrett Evans as he exploded through the middle past three Bulldogs for a 37-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion was unsuccessful as Westmoreland’s Collin Arquette, who led the Bulldogs with 12 total tackles, and Will Carroll stopped the run.
Westmoreland made it 14-6 as they utilized a 15-yard face mask penalty on the Indians to put Sweeney in a position to hook up with Donte Hubal high through the air for a 15-yard touchdown. Schreck’s PAT kick was good.
The Indians were heavily penalized on their next possession, including a holding call and a personal foul, pushing them to second-and-50 at the Westmoreland 48.
On third-and-33 at the Bulldogs’ 35, Liam Evans’ pass was intercepted by Dominick Russello before being tackled by Ethan Martin.
The Bulldogs doubled the lead as Sweeney handed off to Russello, who finished with 15 carries for 44 yards, for a four-yard run. A flag for illegal procedure on the Bulldogs resulted in another PAT attempt that soared wide of the upright.
Liam and Garrett Evans hooked up again to cut the lead heading into halftime. Garrett Evans ran for 55 yards up the middle, splitting the Westmoreland defense and the two-point conversion run from Vanderpool was successful to make it 20-14.
On the opening drive of the third quarter, Martin ran for 28 yard to take the Indians’ first lead of the game as Vanderpool’s two-point run was successful.
With third-and-seven at the Westmoreland 43, Sweeney hooked up with Hubal through the air as he took off to the end-zone for a 57-yard score. On the two-point conversion, Schreck caught the pass from Sweeney to regain the 28-22 lead.
Sauquoit’s long drive ended with a fumble at the Westmoreland 13 that was picked up by Mike Alloggio, who returned it 65 yards in sequence that Gates thought put the Bulldogs back into a good position before the Indians answered back.
“All year we’ve been fighting to get better every week and I think we’re doing that,” said Gates. “We never gave up, just had a few turnovers that hurt us.”
Sweeney finished 17-of-26 passing for 196 yards and two touchdowns while throwing two interceptions. Hubal had nine catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns.
“It’s one step closer,” said Ingils about the win. “The guys said they wanted to make sectionals this year and this puts us one step closer.”
In the thid quarter, Carroll suffered an undisclosed injury and was transported by ambulance to a local hospital for evaluation.
“The kids will bounce back, I have no doubt about it,” Gates said about his squad as it prepares for next Saturday’s Homecoming and Senior Day against Waterville at 1 p.m.
The Indians will venture to Morrisville-Eaton on Friday at 7 o’clock.