WESTFIELD --The Mount Greylock football team had an uncharacteristic first half to start the Western Massachusetts Division III Super Bowl on Saturday.
The Mounties committed six penalties for 60 yards and had just an 8-0 lead over Belchertown when the half came to a close. It was a far different team in the second half, as Greylock grabbed a 24-0 win and its third straight Super Bowl title.
"The penalties started killing us," senior Tyler Picard said. "The penalties were huge. They started killing our drives. In the second half we just said we had to start playing football. We had to not worry about what the other team was doing or what the refs were doing and really just play our game."
The Mounties got back to playing their game and behind three Ethan Ryan touchdowns, got the victory. Ryan had two scores from 3 yards out and a 51-yard run in the third quarter to push himself over the 2,000-yard mark on the season.
The 51-yard jaunt came following an impressive defensive stand from the Mounties. Up 8-0 with Belchertown driving in the third quarter, the defensive line made two big plays.
Ryan had just fumbled and given Belchertown the ball at its own 7. The Orioles used three pass plays and several long runs to push the ball into Greylock territory. Then the defense took over.
"We knew we needed to stop them there because they were driving on us," lineman Nick DiSanti said. "We knew if we made the stop there,
DiSanti broke through the offensive line and dropped quarterback Nick Leduc for a four-yard sack. But the defense wasn't done.
On the very next play, Picard broke through the line, came unblocked and crushed Leduc for a nine-yard loss.
"Those two sacks probably really deflated them a lot," Picard said. "I think they were building up some momentum before the first one. Then when we got the second one, it made it a third-and-really long, and it really helped us."
Picard's sack forced the Orioles into a third-and-21. Leduc gained 13 on the third-down play and then just one on fourth down to hand the ball back to the Mounties.
"They were moving the ball after our fumble and really just kept it going," Greylock coach Shawn Flaherty said. "It was an impressive drive and then we just dug our heels in and Tyler made a great sack."
Five plays later, Ryan went untouched for a 51-yard score to put the game out of reach early in the fourth quarter.
It marked the second time in three games where the Greylock defense got multiple sacks. The Mounties sacked Wahconah quarterback Lane Grogan four times in the county championship game.
The defense made big plays all game long for the three-time Super Bowl champions. Tyrell Thomas intercepted a pass from Leduc in the first half and tipped the ball away from several other receivers. He also made an assist on a second-half interception. He tipped the ball away from a receiver and Eric Leitch made the pick.
Leitch made a second interception on Leduc's next pass to end the game for the Mounties.
The Greylock defense held the Orioles to just 108 yards and eight first downs in the game. Ryan had 216 total yards to bring his season total to 2,060 yards and 35 touchdowns.
For full coverage of Mount Greylock's Super Bowl crown see Monday's edition of the Transcript.