Friday, September 3, 2010

Winnacunnet Over North in OT

What a way to kickoff week 1 of the NH high school football season! Winnacunnet was down 21-0 to Nashua North in the second quarter tonight at Stellos Stadium. But the Warriors make a furious comeback and win it 27-21 in overtime. Great football game, with two very good football teams.

Here's the recap of that game, as well as a recap of Souhegan's 34-19 win over Londonderry. Londonderry led that game 19-0, but then Souhegan scored the game's final 34 points.

2 games. 2 comebacks. 1 night. 0 hurricanes.

Winnacunnet 27 Nashua North 21 (OT)
"This was a huge statement game for us" said Winnacunnet senior quarterback Steve Cronan after leading his team to a big win.

Nashua North was playing at home. They were my #2 ranked team in the state (only behind Salem). And with just a minute and a half left in the second quarter the Titans were up 21-0. They were in complete control of the game. Their defensive line was dominating the Winnacunnet o-line, as Cronan had nowhere to go with the football and was sacked 5 times on the game. And on offense, North's speed and athleticism was just too much fr the Warriors to handle.

Coach Auffant's team showed however that you can NEVER count them out of a game.

"What I took from today was that our kids have heart and they deal with adversity well."

Cronan ran in a touchdown from 3 yards out in overtime to win it. At first he tried to run it up the middle, but he was met by a couple of North linemen. He then shifted gears, bounced it to the outside, and then had a clear path to the end zone. He was looking left. The whole defense shifted left. But he ran right. Great play. Game over.

Once he scored the Winnacunnet sideline jumped up and stormed the field in jubilation. They had just beaten the team ranked (by some) as the #1 team in the state. As the Warrior players headed to the locker room, they yelled things out like, "Who's #1 now?"

There were 2 key plays in the Winnacunnet comeback: an interception and a roughing the kicker penalty. The interception was the turning point in the game. It came at a time when North had all of the momentum in the world on their side. They had taken a 21-0 lead off a 2 yard touchdown run by Andre Williams and followed that up with a 2 point conversion as QB Brandon Karkhanis found Javon Williams (no relation to Andre) for the score. On the ensuing Winnacunnet possession Cronan was intercepted by Andre Williams (very good 2 way player). It was at this time that it looked like North was in complete control of the game and Winnacunnet had no shat at a comeback. Ironically, this is also the exact point when the momentum COMPLETELY shifted to the Warriors.

The Williams interception gave North the ball on their own 4 yard line. Karkhanis dropped back to pass. Winnacunent got some good pressure on him, and the receivers were also covered well. Karkhanis had nowhere to go with the football. But instea dof throwing it away or running with it he tried to force a pass in to one of his receivers. Winnacunnet DB Michael Kean made a great play to cut in front of the receiver and intercept the pass. The Warriors now had the ball first and 10 on the North 6 yard line. On the very next play Mike Trainor ran it in for the touchdown. And just like that the momentum was on the visitor's sideline.

Still down by 2 scores, Winnacunnet had to keep that momentum going if they wanted to complete the comeback. Senior running back Bret Taylor made it happen with a 44 yard run to the North 36. North's defense then stepped up. They sacked Cronan for a 5th time on the game, as the Titan defensive line continued to impress.

Winnacunnet was forced to punt and hand the momentum back over to the boys from Nashua...right? Wrong.

That's when North was called for the roughing the kicker penalty. Instead of Winnacunnet punting to North, and North getting the ball around their own 40 Winnacunnet received a first down with the penalty, keeping possession and was now on the North 27 yard line. What a HUGE difference!

Just like the Kean interception led to a Winnacunnet touchdown, so did the rouching the kicker call. Trainor carried the ball fr 18 yards to set up first and goal Winnacunnet on the North 9. Three plays later Trainor scored his second touchdown of the game, running it in from 1 yard out. North now led just 21-14. And there was still plenty of time left for the warriors to get a another score (still 7:36 left in the 3rd quarter).

Winnacunnet got the tying touchdown on a 5 yard run by Ben Fee. The play call was a bold move by the Warriors. It was 4th and goal on the 5 and Winnacunnet was down 221-14 with 2:09 left in the 3rd quarter. Still plenty of time to play, and from 5 yards out they could have elected to go with a field goal. Instead they gambled, and it paid off.

Winnacunnet's defense was big in the second half, holding the high powered North offense scoreless the entire second half and also shut them down in overtime.

"Our defense in the second half was the key" explained Winnacunnet Head Coach Ron Auffant. They really stepped up for us."

Karkhanis threw a costly interception, but he finished the game 13/18 passing for 203 yards and a touchdown. Cronan ran for 77 yards and scored the game winning TD. North wideout Javon Williams (#1 ranked basketball player in NH Class of 2012) played his first ever high school football game last night. In his first play he made a 27 yard catch, and finished the contest with 3 catches for 35 yards.

Also for North, Andre Williams tallied 44 receiving yards and 35 rushing yards and a TD. Senior Adam Leith caught 5 balls for 57 yards while also serving as the team's punter. And Jahmar Gathright had 66 rushing yards to go with 46 receiving yards. Williams and Gathright are two of the top 2 way players in the state, as both players are also very valuable to their team on defense.

After seeing both BG and Winnacunnet play now, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Warriors win the Division II title. I would say right now either team could win it. It should be an all out battle when those 2 teams meet.

I still think North is one of the top 3 or 4 teams in D-I. These cross-division games don't count towards the standings, so it's tough to know what exactly to take away from them.

Winnacunnet used a running back by committee approach. Cronan rushed for 77 yards, Taylor rushed for 55, Fee went for 49 and Trainor ran for 39 yards.

John Murphy and Zach Hunnewell give the Titans a dominant 1-2 punch on the offensive line, providing a nice combination of size and strength.

Let's now look at the last 3 games Winnacunnet has played. They beat Exeter in the D-II semi-finals last year. That was arguably the biggest win in program history. Then in the title game they gave BG a better game than anyone else had all year, and that was a BG team that was the most dominant NHIAA squad in recent memory. And now they beat North in OT, a team some have ranked as the #1 team in the state.

"This was a big win for our program" beamed a content Auffant.

How long do we have to wait to see BG and Winnacunnet play?

Souhegan 34 Londonderry 19
This game kicked off at 5, and my game (North/Winnacunnet) didn't start until 7. So I figured I'd be able to catch at least the first half over at Lancer field before scooting over to Stellos.

Due to continuing traffic issues on 93-N, there was only 5 minutes left in the first quarter when I got to Londonderry. The Lancers had already built a 13-0 lead, thanks to a 73 yard interception return, and a wacky opening kickoff.

Londonderry kicked it off, but it was a VERY short kick. It did however, stay up in the air long enough for the Lancer players to get downfield. The Sabers were slow to react, and Londonderry recovered it on the Souhegan 29 yard line. Junior running back Sean O'Gorman ran in the touchdown, and he also ran it in after DB Connor Richard picked off Souhegan QB Mike Luks.

It was 13-0 at the half. Both teams had 2 chances inside their opponent's 30 in the first half. Londonderry was 2/2, while Souhegan went 0/2 (2 turnovers).

Converting drives into TD's when you get deep into your opponent's territory is a BIG key to winning in high school football. The Sabers didn't do it in the first half. They did that and then some in the second.

Souhegan made their run, but not until after Londonderry added to their lead. The Lancers got the ball first in the second half, and QB Ian McMullen threw a 62 yard pass to WR Nick Martinez to put the ball on the Souhegan 4 yard line. O'Gorman then picked up his 3rd rushing TD of the game and it was 19-0.

Souhegan then scored the next 34 point unanswered to win it.


  1. What now to all the Souhegan haters? With a much weaker team they still throttled D-I playoff contenders Londonderry AT Londonderry and played horrible to start the game! What a credit to the program Coach Beliveau has created over there! What does this now say about the past two years' teams might I ask? It says they could play with ANYBODY.

    "“We weren’t able to move the ball all day,” Londonderry coach Jon Rich said. “We scored 19 points, but they gave us 14 of them. We couldn’t put a drive together all day, offensively.”"

    34-19. 14 points "gifted" in a slow start. Domination. The D-I facade is done, time for some respect.

  2. Hold on souhegan,londonderry is going to finish with concord in the basement.On another note West might be the worst team in all of nh,nhiaa should have dropeed them to d4,they will not win a game this year.

  3. Nashua North the "Top Rated" D1 team according to the WMUR Poll goes down to a D2 Team. Londonderry, a D1 playoff contender goes down to a D3 team. If Salem, the number 2 D1 team goes down to BG, I guess all this talk about a "stacked" D1 is all blown out of proportion. Look for Exeter, representing D2, to roll through D1 this year.

  4. You can't say enough about the Souhegan football program - Coach Bealiveau and his staff and all of the kids that are and have been part of it. What was it...9 players from last years team playing college ball? From a school district that services 13,000 people? Back to back state titles and a clear message sent with game 1 of this season.

    Congratulations to the Sabers - a huge win.

  5. Easy there . Let's not get too excited. We don't know how good or bad Londonderry is. Kudos to SHS for winning but one game does not define the season.

  6. Londonderry is a bad team with a bad offense. I will give Souhegan credit they are well coached. I am not ready to crown them all world. They will win division 3 again…..

  7. I see that the Souhegan haters are out in force again - pretty clear that the overwhelming majority of teams in the state at any classification couldn't beat Souhegan this year and this is supposed to be a DOWN year for the Sabers. Congrats again to a first rate program.

  8. From what I've read and heard, Souhegan was expected to win this by 2 touchdowns. A poster on one of these threads, convincingly argued that the "significantly weaker SHS this year" was not true. This year's team won't prove anything tome about other teams since I saw them play last year. No posts by a SHS fanatic is going to change my opinion about them - a top six team. Great job for a school its size. By the way, there's a lot of hating of Plymouth by some SHS posters.

  9. As someone who would not classify themselves as a "Souhegan Hater", I do think the SHS posters need to rethink what they are posting. After a horrific year in your community and all the bad press your school has gotten in the last year, one would think you would be a bit more humble. Insulting other divisions, comparing D1, D11 players vs. D3 is why you are losing respect in the football programs. To get respect, you sometimes should give it.
    Just a thought.

  10. 11:11
    Did Jeremy delete some negative posts? What justifies "Souhegan haters out in full force"? Don't you think the first poster was throwing out a challege with the "with ANYBODY"? Souhegan has a well respected football coach and team. The posters from Souhegan are confrontational and paranoid.

  11. All the souhegan posters have said is that they beat a D-I team and that this proves we could at least compete in D-I. is that a crime?

  12. I love how all the haters are now saying that Londonderry is trash - after having said that they'll be a playoff contender all offseason when talk of this game and the Central-SHS game started up. People would say "we'll see how for real SHS is when they play real competitive teams like Londonderry and Central." So now all of a sudden Londonderry is trash? Last I saw they were a projected D-I playoff team according to the preseason power poll and posters talking about them blasting Alvirne and so on in the preseason. Stop the hate and just admit that even in a DOWN year, Souhegan can compete with and possibly beat anybody in NH. Imagine what last year's team would have done to Londonderry!

    Sometimes you just have to accept that you were wrong and respect the program for what it is. Right now it's just getting silly. It's like saying Boise isn't one of the top teams in college ball because the school is so small. Come on now, give the kids their respect.

  13. To "just a thought"...don't feel bad, because many of us have ridiculous thoughts from time to time. Your post certainly was one. NH Sports Page was the first to their credit to give credit to Souhegan for scheduling larger, competitive programs (in some cases on the road) where others chose not to (Plymouth). As far as how good Londonderry is goes, I would like to see any D3 or D4 team other than maybe Portsmouth beat them at Londonderry.

    Also, what on earth does "what happened in our community" and "bad press about our school" have to do with the overwhelming and unarguable success of the football program? The answer is nothing. You are the one that needs to give the respect - must not be awhole lot going on that's successful in your town.

  14. 2:51, in the preseason power poll Londonderry is ranked as the #7 team in D-I. Pretty much everyone has been picking them as the #7 team in D-I. 4 teams make the playoffs. They're not exactly a title contender. Going into this weekend I had Souhegan ranked #8 in the state and Londonderry ranked #11. This would make Souhegan a favorite. They were supposed to win this game. I do give them respect though, because after the way they started the game so poorly and went down 19-0 to come back and score 34 points unanswered is impressive.

  15. 1:31
    No, he didn't say that! He said, "throttled D-I playoff contenders", and he said, "they could play with ANYBODY". If you can't read better than that, then how are you worthy of passing judgement? I can read. By the way, I've always had positive things to say about Souhegan.

  16. this should end all arguments, for the last past two years d2 has been better than d1 both bg and winnacunnet have lost way more players and talent than north and salem have this year and still come out on top. no more excuses the scoreboard doesnt lie and bg and winnacunnet should be ranked as the top two teams in the state and there should be no ifs or buts about it. bg vs winnacunet will be a game to watch. GO WARRIORS

  17. 8:44
    Great post!! In my opinion, Winni proved that they should have been ranked #2 last year. Go d2!

  18. no differnce in competition within d1 and d2

  19. Winny won it on the field because North stopped playing and Winny didn't. That should have been a 35-14 North win. Three wide open scoring passes were dropped or over thrown. Penalties lead to extended drives for the Warriors. It was a very sloppy game for North and it cost them.

  20. bg and winnie, could compete even souhegan could. the difference is quality of games week in and week out. Souegan would not be resting their starters at half every week like in d3 (ex the game friday). This wears on a team it would be interesting to see those teams play real schedule and see how they end up. Londonderry how ever much down they are this year still can compete (up 19 to 0 in 3rd quarter). Look at a team like pinkie last year (on paper pretty good team, no arguments there) they play BG (best team in state last year) brockton (one of best teams in mass every year) North, South, Central, londonderry and salem twice. Teams in a lower division don t play anything close to a schedule like that.

  21. 10:01
    For D3 through d6, I agree. If you accept the myth that D1 was stronger than D2, then the rest of this post is a waste of my time. D1 teams played West, Concord, and Memorial. Teams in D2 did not get 3 weeks off. D2 had to face BG, Exeter and Winnicunnet, three teams that D1 teams always lose to.

  22. I think londonderry is a terrible team this year however Ian Mcmullen is a definite bright spot on the field for the lancers. I think he is Steve Miller's cousin. when i was watching the game i saw glimpses of miller when he was running the ball. does anyone know if this is true??

  23. Londonderry is not terrible, stop it. While D1 isn't as strong at the top as D2, it has incredible depth. Teams 1 through 7 will all be in a dog fight for playoff spots, and Londonderry will be in the thick of it. I however expect Exeter with that display against Dover, Memorial, and Concord to struggle mightily (there's 10 teams in D-I, right?).

  24. Londonderry will not be in the thick of it at all. How can you knock Exeter's performance beating Dover and stick up for Londonderry getting blown out by Souhegan? It will however be a dogfight between teams 1-5 which will be Central, Pinkerton, Salem, North, and South. South will be out and below that it will be Exeter, Londonderry, Memorial, and Concord. Just a prediction

  25. 3:14
    Given how Concord dominated Exeter Londonderry and that is the game that most of us figured they would win..... uh oh. At the begininng of the season I figured they would beat Souhegan, Dover and Concord. Now, not too sure that they will beat anyone.

  26. I find it fascinating that the posting title is "Winnacunnet Over North in OT", and everyone is commenting on Souhegan. The only comments missing are the ones on BG.

  27. Probably because the Souhegan story was in the post too...