NORTH ADAMS -- It doesn't matter how much you say the right things in practice and just before kickoff or act full of intensity. Once the game starts, there's no substitute for going out and doing it.
The McCann Tech football team simply didn't do it on Saturday afternoon and lost to Franklin Tech, 14-8, in a game that could go a long way toward determining postseason berths.
"Motivation's one of our weakest points right now," senior captain T.J. Therrien said. "We lost a lot of seniors last year. We had a very strong family. ... On and off the field we were together non-stop, and that's what we're working on right now. Me and [fellow captain] Justin [Cote] are working on getting the team together."
McCann and Franklin Tech entered the game tied for fifth place. Only the top four advance to the postseason, so a win against a team they may be battling in the standings the rest of the way would have been huge.
"Coach said it at the end in the huddle, we got to win the rest from here on out in order to be where we want to be," Cote said.
From the opening kick, the Hornets were sluggish, almost disinterested. They were fortunate the Eagles weren't able to capitalize in a lightning-quick first quarter. The first 15 minutes took only about 30 to play, but the final 5 took about 20, largely due to the 21 run plays to just four pass plays during the first four drives, leading up to Franklin Tech's first score.
The Hornets were plagued by a handful of dropped passes by their receiving corps. Coach Bob LeClair, not wanting to single any one play out, pointed to a Dylan Darling drop in the left flat early in the second quarter on third-and-3 that could have turned into a big gain and been the boost McCann needed.
"Without [receptions], we won't win. We like to pass and I don't know what it is, but our team, we're just not holding onto the ball," quarterback Justin Cote said. "It's in our hands, we're not holding onto the ball. All my throws aren't perfect, but if they're in your hands, if you have two hands on it, you got to be able to catch it."
Said T.J. Therrien, "We were running our routes, we were doing what we needed to do, and we just weren't catching the ball."
But that certainly wasn't the only drop that cost the Hornets. Anthony Duprat had a Cote pass hit him in the hands on a deep crossing route, only to see it fall harmlessly to the ground early in the second quarter with the score still 0-0.
Cote completed just 10 of 24 passes to his teammates -- he had two interceptions -- but his completion count should have been far higher.
"Can't throw the ball better than Justin was throwing it [Saturday]," LeClair said. "I said, ‘Justin, you're hitting them in the wrong place, right in the hands.' "
The Eagles broke the 0-0 tie with 4:20 to go in the half when Jake Earl punched it in from 1 yard out. Earl scored from 7 yards out with 8:13 remaining in the game.
McCann finally got on the board with a hurry-up offense in the final 87 seconds because the receivers held onto the ball. Darling started the drive with an 11-yard reception. Cote then found Cody O'Neill for 20 yards and capped off the 44-yard drive with a 13-yard strike to Therrien for the score.
"That hurry-up drive, T.J. just did a great job catching the ball," Cote said. "I was just putting it where I could."
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