Saturday, November 4, 2017

Ware Holds off Lee in D8 West Semis

By Ethan Winter (@EWints)

Lee, Mass. - A 58-yard touchdown run by Ware quarterback Ryan Johnson with just over a minute left in regulation put any hope of a magical Lee comeback to bed Friday night, as the Lee Wildcats could not overcome their slow start and fell to the Ware Indians, 25-16, in a Division 8 Western Mass Semifinal.

After falling behind 19-0 at the end of three, the No. 2 seeded Wildcats (7-2) attempted to mount a valiant comeback effort, cutting the deficit down to three at 19-16 with 2:02 left to play, after junior quarterback Homer Winston connected with senior halfback Lukas Loehr for a 25-yard touchdown. Lee still had a chance, but it needed to recover the ensuing onside kick. 

“Homer is a gamer man; he is as tough as they come. There is no quit in Homer, he puts bad plays behind him and he did a good job of that tonight and he led us on a couple of long drives in the fourth quarter to get us back in the game, but it just wasn’t meant to be for us tonight,” said Lee head coach Keith Thomson about his junior quarterback. 

The Indians (9-0) ended up recovering the ensuing onside kick and nearly a minute later a vicious block by halfback Hunter Millier, sprung Johnson loose for the game sealing touchdown.

“That was a heck of a block by Hunter,” said Ware head coach Bill Gallagher.

Ware got off to a hot start scoring on their first drive on a Johnson eight yard touchdown pass to tight end Jayson Jamilowski gave the Indians an 8-0 lead.

They then forced Lee to a three an out and a blocked punt by Devon Koczur set up Ware in great field position at the Wildcats 26 yard line which set up a 26 yard touchdown run by John Velasquez as the Indians were in business with a 12-0 lead with just over five minutes left in the first quarter.

“They were the better team at least for the better part of the first half,” said Thomson. “Give Ware credit, they beat us up front tonight especially early and we couldn’t really get the ground game going.”

The Indians held the Wildcats to just 72 yards rushing and 244 yards of total offense, making one of the most complete and balanced offenses in Western Mass completely one dimensional.

“Without the ground game we couldn’t really open up the play action pass and made us one dimensional,” said Thomson.

Loehr was held to a season low 48 yards rushing on 14 carries on the night.

Lee had their opportunities however getting into the Ware red zone twice in the second quarter but couldn’t convert as Lee turned the ball over on downs and a scrambling Winston overthrew Harding and was intercepted by Devin Slattery.

“We had an opportunity there before halftime but we couldn’t cash in and had an opportunity to start the second half, getting the ball there but turned the ball over,” explained Thomson. “You get opportunities you have to cash in. It’s a playoff game, everybody is good. You don’t cash in when you get the opportunity to score it’s going to come back and bite ya.”

On the Indians very first offensive play from scrimmage in the second half, Millier busted it open for a 42 yard touchdown run for his 35th touchdown of the season to extend Ware’s lead to 19-0.

Lee got on the board with 6:35 left in the fourth quarter on a one yard touchdown run by Winston to cut the deficit to 19-8, beginning their comeback attempt.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, it was just too little, too late.

With the win, Ware will take on another Berkshire County team, in the No. 1 seeded Hoosac Valley Hurricanes in the Division 8 WMass Finals at Holyoke High School. Day and time are still to be determined for this battle of unbeatens.

--- --- ---

Ware     12   0   7   6 –  25

Lee         0   0   0   16 – 16

                                  Ware         Lee

Total Yards:                266          244

Pass Yards:                  58           172

Rush Yards:                208            72

Turnovers:                     3               3

Fumbles Lost:               2               1

Interceptions:                1               2

Passing: (W) Ryan Johnson: 6/15, 58 yards, TD, INT; Hunter Millier: 0/1 (L) Homer Winston: 9/21, 149 yards, TD, 2 INT; Lukas Loehr: 1/1, 16 yards; JJ Jiminez: 1/1, 7 yards

Receiving: (W) John Velasquez: 2 rec, 27 yards; Jayson Jamilkowski: 3 rec, 18 yards, TD; Devin Slattery: 1 rec, 19 yards (L) Ben Harding: 3 rec, 64 yards; Jake Corcoran 4 rec, 56 yards; Loehr: 2 rec, 29 yards, TD; Dominic Bartini: 1 rec, 16 yards; Winston: 1 rec, 7 yards

​Rushing: (W) Millier: 102 yards, 16 carries, TD; Johnson: 71 yards, 9 carries, TD; Velasquez: 35 yards, 4 carries, TD (L) Loehr: 48 yards, 14 carries; Winston: 19 yards, 9 carries, TD

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