Photo Gallery: Hoosac vs.Wahconah
DALTON - The spot was the left hash of the 38-yard line. Kicker Ian Hill and coach Dayne Poirot knew it was within the range of No. 40's hulking right leg.
We'll have to wait until next time to find out. Hill was cheated out of a go-ahead, 48-yard field goal attempt, sending Wahconah on to an 8-7 win Saturday night.
"I kicked the tee a little bit, got under it.," he said. "Being a kicker, you know what it's going to be like once you kick it. "I've kicked those plenty of times. I mean conditions, anything can happen on any given play, and that just didn't go our way."
The Hurricanes were struggling to answer Wahconah's only touchdown after taking over on their own 34 with 2 minutes, 24 seconds left. Hill never would have placed the tee on the hashmark had Matt Koperniak and Ty Mach not connected for a 38-yard gain down the middle on fourth-and-6 from Hoosac's 38.
"He just put it there perfectly, and I was just able to come down with it," Mach said.
Hoosac couldn't move the ball forward anymore, though. Matt Braman lost 2 yards on first down and Koperniak couldn't connect with Peter Barrow or Brandon Tworig, setting up Hill's long field goal try. The kick was straight enough, but not nearly long enough and came down short of the goal line.
"He's kicked that deep before. He's a kid with a lot of heart and works for it," Poirot said. "You give him that opportunity. I think we do that every time to try to win the game."
In a battle of 4-0 teams whose offenses had been the stories so far, it was the defenses that came ready to play.
Neither team was able to prevent drives from stalling in the first half, and all the scoring was done in the fourth quarter. Hoosac gained 262 yards on its 47 plays (193 yards on 38 rushes), while Wahconah gained 147 on its 42 plays (34 rushes
"It was tough. Both teams played a great game," Mach said. "We're just going to get back on and keep rolling."
The Hurricanes' defense was stifling from the beginning when it sent Wahconah back 5 yards on its first two plays. Hill's tackle for a 4-yard loss on second down was the big play.
Hoosac gave up only four plays of 10 yards or more and forced the Warriors to punt on each of their first three drives while yielding a miniscule 17 yards.
The problem was after Hoosac's first drive quickly went three-and-out, Wahconah owned the field position game. The Hurricanes' next and final three possessions of the first half began at their own 20-, 6- and 8-yard line.
The Hurricanes seemed to figure out how to advance the ball on their third series and had possession on Wahconah's side of midfield for the first time. But on a fourth-and-5 from the Warriors' 39, a fumbled handoff ended the threat.
Wahconah did everything but capitalize on Hoosac's stalled drive. The Warriors drove 56 yards in 10 plays, but couldn't figure out how to get the final eight yards to score, and Hoosac took over.
The Hurricanes went back to work, having figured the Warriors out, but they weren't able to beat the clock.
Starting on their own 8 with 1:54 left in the half, the Hurricanes had four plays of at least 12 yards - including runs of 13 and 15 yards from Mach - which had them on Wahconah's 15-yard line. But when Koperniak tried to spike the ball and stop the clock, it ran out.
"We were supposed to get beat by a lot, and we came in and we battled. No one scored in the first half and we're both putting up points all over the place [through the first four weeks]. And it just shows we're the two big teams in Berkshire County and we're fighting."
In the second half, it didn't take the offenses nearly as long to figure out the defenses' halftime adjustments. They traded punts, but then Hoosac rattled off a 14-play, 80-yard drive to take a 7-0 lead. The drive took 6:35 and spanned the third and fourth quarters.
Hill's 10-yard rumbling run on third-and-9 from Wahconah's 41 and Koperniak's 7-yard jaunt on fourth-and-2 from the 23 (aided by a big block from Hill) kept the drive from stalling.
Then it was Mach's turn. He picked up the final 16 yards on three carries to put Hoosac in front.
"It was just our blocks, our linemen knowing what they're supposed to do and them executing it perfectly," Mach said. "And they just opened up holes."
Hoosac then had Wahconah on the ropes when Eli Pease fumbled, giving Hoosac the ball back on its own 40. But the momentum swung one more decisive time, and it was in Wahconah's favor.
The Hurricanes botched a handoff exchange and Sean Rice pounced on the loose ball. Nine plays later, Ethan Wells crossed into the end zone with 2:32 remaining. Unlike Hoosac, Wahconah opted to go for the 2-point conversion, and it paid off with a victory.
It hasn't changed Poirot's decision to kick the extra point in future close games.
"Down here, absolutely. We're confident in the PAT," he said. "They run the 2-point play. If we stop the 2-point play, we win the game. So, sure. Every time."
To reach Josh Colligan, email firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @NAT_DigitalJosh