Mountaineers lose fifth straight game
FALLS VILLAGE — The Housatonic/Wamogo Mountainers football team was hoping to celebrate senior day by ending a four-game losing streak as well as giving the graduating seniors a final home win. Instead, they found themselves in the Christmas giving spirit as they hosted the Ellington Knights, giving them two gift-wrapped touchdowns on fumbles in the first quarter, on the way to dropping a 28-6 loss — their fifth in a row. Head Coach Deron Bayer was quick to note that the visitors made the best of the opportunities.“The difference was that they made big plays,” he said.Those big plays all came in a high-scoring first quarter that saw the Knights win the coin toss, receive the opening kickoff and march down the field in 1:40 to strike first on a 21-yard pass from Brian Ryder to Mike Cleary. Mitch Gibb added the extra point and it was 7-0.The Mountaineers got the ball on their own 30-yard line. It looked as if the hard-running Jake Sutterlin (24 carries 110 yards, 39 completions, 21 yards) was going to do what he and his teammates have done all season: pick up 5 and 6 yards at a time, all while eating up the clock. The visitors had different plans. Ellington, known for being one of the physically stronger teams in the Pequot Conference, punched the ball loose after Sutterlin picked up 5 yards, recovering the fumble on the Housy 35-yard line at the 10:12 mark of the first quarter. Bayer knew the physical disadvantage his team faced going in. “This game was won in February. In the weight room,” he said of Ellington’s state weight lifting competition success. The visitors again wasted very little time; it was just 2:29 before Mitch Di Resta scampered in from 5 yards out; tack on another booming extra point from Gibb and the lead was now 14-0.The Mountaineers settled down on their next possession, starting on their own 28 with 7:33 to go in the first. The normal, methodically marching offense wasted little time in getting this game closer. Donyell Williams (seven carries, 55 yards, one touchdown) broke a couple of tackles, aided by some great line blocking of Mark Wildman and Adam Vernali, and sprinted 30 yards to the end zone. The point after was no good and the score was now 14-6.Both teams struggled on their next series of downs, especially the visitors, who were now feeling the presence of the Housy seniors, captain Jake Foley and Forrest Hayden, who were disrupting the offensive line of the Knights, getting into the backfield and making huge tackles. However the physical factor again became the bane of the Mountaineers as Williams was stripped of the ball on the team’s own 24-yard line with just :13.9 left in the first. Ryder made the hosts pay on one play, going to the air, this time to Jason Moustafa from 24 yards out with just :06 left in the first. Gibb again added the point after, and the first quarter ended 21-6. Housy started the second with the ball but after eating up almost four minutes, Sutterlin fired a pass in the direction of Will Perotti (three carries,11 yards, one catch, 9 yards). But it was intercepted, giving the ball back to the visitors at the 8:02 mark — for only a minute. Hayden stripped and recovered a fumble one minute later, giving the ball back to the Mountaineers with 7:01 in the quarter. The home team ate up a huge chunk of clock marching down to the Ellington 8-yard line. Forced with a fourth-and-5, however, the Mountaineers came up 3 yards short, giving the ball back with 2:26 to go in the half. Ellington moved the ball to their own 45-yard line, but faced with their own fourth-and-5, Ryder attempted a screen pass to Moustafa. Foley read it, promptly dumping Moustafa for a loss and ending the half with the score still 14-6.The Mountaineers started the second half with the ball, but, plagued with penalties, a bad snap and a fumble on an option play, the hosts were forced to punt. Perotti was unable to handle another bad snap and another opportunity was lost. Ellington had a short porch to work with, starting on the Mountaineer 15-yard line at the 10:32 mark in the third. Ryder once again wasted little time finding Austin Tautkus from 15 yards out. Add Gibb’s point after and this ended the scoring at 28-6. The Mountaineer offense was held in check the rest of the way, but the defense held fast for the remainder of the game. “Foley and Wildman are special players. They have the ability to read the play quickly and a desire to be the defender who gets to the ball carrier first,” he said. Both players, along with Hayden, led the team in tackles. Next up for the Mountaineers will be the 27th annual Berkshire Bowl against their archrivals, the Gilbert/Northwestern Yellowjackets. The game will be held at Gilbert’s Van Why field. Bayer knows going in that there is one factor that could make or break this game. “Both teams have had turnover problems this year. The team that does that the least has a big edge,” he said. The host team has a 14-12 advantage in the series, having won the last three, including a 38-19 win in last year’s game. Thomas Brissett is the statistician for the Mountaineers.