Thanksgiving football: Franklin Tech defeats Smith Vocational, 42-6, for fourth-straight Turkey Day win
Published: 11-23-2023 2:39 PM
Modified: 11-23-2023 2:38 PM
TURNERS FALLS — Make it four wins in a row on Thanksgiving for the Franklin Tech football team.
The Eagles were firing on all cylinders, scoring touchdowns on four of their opening six drives while their defense kept visiting Smith Vocational off the scoreboard entirely in the first half. That combination allowed Franklin Tech to take a 28-0 lead at the half.
The Eagles didn’t let Smith Vocational get back in the game in the final 24 minutes, with Franklin Tech walking away with a 42-6 victory.
The Eagles closed out their season with an 8-4 record, the eight wins tying a school record.
“This feels great,” Franklin Tech coach Joe Gamache said. “The turkey always tastes better after a win. The kids really battled. They executed the game plan well. I would have liked for us to not get caught up in some other things that we got caught up in but overall I’m super proud of them.”
Eagles quarterback Gabe Tomasi was named the MVP of the game. The senior ran in a pair of touchdowns while adding 251 yards and three touchdowns through the air.
“It feels fantastic,” Tomasi said. “There’s no better feeling than winning on Turkey Day then going home and eating good. We’re starting to feel our culture grow and everyone gave it their all knowing it was the last one all us seniors will be playing together.”
Smith Vocational closed out its season with a 7-5 record, the most wins in program history. Vikings coach Alex Subocz said the loss will only fuel his young team going into next season.
“We have a huge junior class,” Subocz said. “We left a lot of meat on the bone here. It should leave all of our returning players hungry for next year.”
Franklin Tech running back Josiah Little entered the game needing just 12 yards on the ground to hit the 1,000 yard mark on the year.
It took the junior just two carries to reach it, as he finished the game with 154 yards rushing, 118 of those yards coming in the first half. Little has reached the 1,000 yard milestone in each of his three years with the Eagles.
“We finally got it,” Little said. “It hasn’t set in yet but it will. It took everyone coming together and doing what we do to get the win. Obviously it wasn’t the cleanest game but it’s what it’s going to be as rivals.”
Smith Vocational fumbled on its opening possession and Franklin Tech rode Little to the red zone, as he broke off two runs of 10-plus yards on the drive. At the Vikings 1, Tomasi took a quarterback sneak in and found Ethan Smarr for the two-point try to give Tech an 8-0 lead with 7:24 to go in the first.
Little broke off a 36-yard run on the Eagles’ second possession of the game. Franklin Tech drove it down to the Smith Vocational 1 where Tomasi once again kept it himself on a sneak to give the Eagles a 14-0 lead on the final play of the first quarter.
Tech’s third touchdown of the first half came via the air. Tomasi found Smarr, Will Ainsworth and Tucker Hicks for first downs before hitting Hicks for a 16-yard touchdown that put the Eagles ahead, 20-0, with 7:24 to go in the half.
Franklin Tech closed out the half with Tomasi finding Ainsworth for a 12-yard score with 20 seconds showing on the clock. Tomasi ran in the two-point try to give the Eagles a 28-0 lead at the half.
It was short-yardage that plagued the Vikings throughout the first half. Smith Vocational’s Jared Baer was stopped inches short on a fourth-and-two, Baer was stopped in the backfield on a fourth-and-two, Alex Martinez threw an incomplete pass on a fourth-and-three and was later stuffed on a fourth-and-one.
“In games where we haven’t been able to get the offense going it’s been those short-yardage plays,” Subocz said. “Throughout the year, especially the five losses we’ve had, we’ve struggled in that area.”
The Vikings got on the scoreboard on their opening drive of the second half. Jayden Yon picked off Tomasi to set Smith Vocational up at the Eagles 29 and seven plays later, Nolen Finnie ran it in from 11 yards out to cut the lead to 28-6.
Tomasi found Cam Candelaria for a 6-yard score on the opening play of the fourth quarter before Little closed out the scoring with an 8t-yard touchdown run with 2:30 to play. Candelaria ran in the two-point try on Little’s score.
Landen Hardy, the leader of the Tech defense, and Tyler Yetter added interceptions for the Eagles defense.
“Offensively we played great,” Gamache said. “Gabe had a great game, Josiah had a great game. Line did a good job blocking. Defensively we played great. We got stops all day. Landen is our leader and he spearheads our defense. He’s done that for the last two years.”
The win puts an exclamation point on a historic season for the Eagles, one Gamache said he hopes can be a building block for years to come. Still, he says it’ll be tough to replace the senior class that helped establish a winning culture this fall.
“We’ll miss the leadership that Gabe brought on offense and Landen brought on defense,” Gamache said. “We’ll need other kids to step up next year. I’m super proud of the work all the seniors put in over the last four years.
“They’ve come such a long way from that COVID season where we didn’t win a game,” Gamache added. “To finish 8-4 with the most wins in school history, win a state vocational playoff game which we’ve never done, there’s been so many accolades over the four years. They’ve done things the right way. Hopefully they’ve set the bar high enough where these young kids will buy in and do the same thing.”