DALTON -- It's always a numbers game, and through the first half the Mount Greylock football team was losing the big-play battle with Wahconah. That all changed after halftime.
The only big play the Mounties produced in the first 22 minutes was a 72-yard kickoff return by Tyrell Thomas. That number tripled in the fourth quarter with the Mounties clinging to 22-16 lead.
Daivon Clement and Tyler Picard each had key deflections and Matt Malloy came up with a big-time sack to prevent the Warriors from gaining any momentum down the stretch.
"Our coach during the halftime speech, he just pumped us up, told us not to worry about it, play our game and have fun with it," Picard said. "That's what we did. We just played how you play when you're a little kid playing football and that's what got us here."
Clement's came first. On the second play of the fourth quarter, the linebacker followed quarterback Lane Grogan down the line and put himself between Grogan and the intended receiver and batted the fourth-and-3 pass to the ground. Greylock ball.
When Wahconah got the ball back, it was Picard who made the play on the drive's second play. All night long he gave the Warriors fits on runs around the end. But this one came on a pass play.
Grogan tried for a quick wide-receiver screen pass to Picard's side. The problem was the big 6-foot-6 defensive end was virtually unblocked, which allowed him to get his long arms up and deflect the second-and-15 pass incomplete with about 3 minutes, 30 seconds remaining.
"He's done that his whole entire career and he stepped up big [Wednesday night]," Flaherty said.
The Warriors converted the ensuing third-and-15, which set Malloy up for the last big play of the game.
Clement had just made an open-field tackle on Wahconah's Darrow Brown on another wide-receiver screen to set up a tough third-and-13.
Enter Malloy. He beat his man clean off the ball and had a free shot at Grogan. As the quarterback struggled to control the snap, Malloy drilled him to the ground for a five-yard loss, setting up one final desperate Wahconah chance.
"Coach [Brian] Gill switched me and Nick Disanti and just told me to reek havoc, and I just did," Malloy said.
"We don't have many line blitzes or line stunts," Flaherty said. "So what does that allude to? Again, I think it's fatigue."
Freshman Brodie Altiere batted Wahconah's final desperate chance down with 1:53 left and ensured the Mounties a third straight Berkshire County championship.
"We made some great defensive plays," Flaherty said. "But you know, that first series we stopped them and got the ball on their 45. And we had a great drive and pounded it down, and punched it in.
"I really think they were pretty tired."