Saturday, November 13, 2010

Injured Cardinals Escape With Win Over Blackbirds in D-II Semis


#1 seed Bishop Guertin is trying to win their 6th Division II title in the last 7 years. But if they win it this year it will be the most impressive one. They graduated 34 seniors off last year's team and this season they have suffered more injuries than any other team in the state. But they have persevered, and now BG is headed back to the title game.

Junior linebacker James Carver recovered a Keene fumble on the Blackbirds 10 yard line and ran in the touchdown for what turned out to be the game-winning score. BG defeated Keene 28-21 Saturday night to advance to the D-II championship game at Stellos Stadium on a COLD evening in Nashua.

Here is the game's full recap.

Injuries Continue for Resilient Cardinals
The "Cardinals Curse" continues. No team in recent memory has had this many injuries. Mike Kelly, Bob Fahey, Steve Cuipa, Pete Fucci, Kyle Karaska, Blake Boudreau, Joe McCarthy, Bob Fahey, CJ Boykin. All key players who have missed time with injuries. And I am sure I'm forgetting others. Alex Eaton has also missed the last couple of games, but Coach Johnson won't comment on him.

Last night 2 more players got hurt. Senior RB/LB Kyle Remillard suffered a shoulder injury during the 2nd quarter and was taken to the hospital. And in the 4th quarter DB Lucas Lansing injured his leg while breaking up a Keene pass on a critical 4th and long play.

"I've never had a team with this many injuries" said Bishop Guertin head coach Tony Johnson. "But the resilience of this team is unbelievable. They have a lot of character and a lot of pride."

I said it before and I'll say it again. If any other team in the state had this many injuries, especially during a season after they just graduated 34 seniors they would be winless. But BG is now 9-2 on the year and headed to the title game. I know that some people will say that it's only because BG draws kids from 15 different towns in the area. But they simply of have football culture over there. The kids on the team flat out love to hit, and they hit harder than anyone else in NH. Guertin has 3rd and 4th stringers, heck even freshmen who come off the bench after not starting all year and hit harder than other team's starters. I don't care how many towns they draw from, this is impressive stuff that's happening here.


Many Big Plays Make for VERY Exciting Game
Here are just a few of the many big plays that made for one of the most exciting games in Division II this season, listed in chronological order.

1) Keene was down 7-0 early and was threatening to tie it up. They were inside BG territory when Blackbirds sophomore QB Lucas Luopa went deep for junior RB/WR/DB Jimmy Boulay. But the pass who overthrown (Luopa has a VERY strong arm, especially for a sophomore) and it was intercepted by Fahey on the 3 yard line. If Keene could have converted the pass it would have been 1st and goal Blackbirds on the 6 yard line and things would be looking very good for them to tie it up. Instead it was a turnover and BG possession.

2) Just a few minutes later Keene would get the ball back on an interception of their own. Cuipa (who had just ran in a 21 yard score to make it 14-0 Cardinals) had his pass intercepted by junior linebacker Oakley Singer (one of the state's coolest names by the way). As a result the Blackbirds got the ball on the BG 13 yard line. A couple plays later Luopa found wideout Ben Galanes for a 17 yard touchdown pass and just like that Keene was back in the game, now only down 14-7 with 9:50 left in the 2nd quarter.

3) Another BG turnover led to another Keene score. The Cardinals fumbled the ball, and it was recovered by senior linebacker Matt Amman (another one of the state's coolest names) on the Guertin 24 yard line. After a 12 yard catch by Tyler Slanetz, senior tailback Chris Lacroix ran in a 12 yard TD. Just 4 minutes after BG had a commanding 14-0 lead, Keene had tied it up at 14-14 with 8:30 left in the 1st half.

4) To start the 3rd quarter BG was up 20-14 and then their defense intercepted Luopa for the 2nd time. It was on 3rd down and 13 for Keene on their own 32 yard line. Cardinals DB Broderick Smith went up and grabbed the interception away from the intended receiver. The Keene sideline was absolutely livid. They wanted a pass interference call. I was right on the sideline where the play happened, and it was VERY close to being pass interference, as there was definitely some contact that was initiated by Smith. But the play stood, and BG got the football on the Blackbirds 44 yard line, and in good position to go back up by 2 scores.

5) On the ensuing Guertin drive, there was a crucial 4th down and 4 play on the Keene 24 yard line. The Blackbirds made a nice defensive stand though, and Mailloux was only able to gain 1 yard. So BG got all the way to the Keene 23 before turning it over on downs.

6) This is where Keene freshman fullback Alex Parenteau really started to make his presence felt. It was 3rd and 12 for Keene at the BG 49 when Parenteau took the hand-off and went right up the gut for a BG 27 yard run. It was an excellent run, as Parenteau spun off would-be tacklers and dragged multiple BG defenders on his back while continuing to push forward and battle for extra yardage (he finished with 94 yards on 9 carries).

7) Parenteau then made yet ANOTHER big time run, and this one came on 4th down and 6 on the BG 18 yard line. Keene had a great play-call, running a mis-direction play. Luopa acted like he was looking to throw it down field, then flipped the ball forward to Parenteau who then ran it 18 yards up the middle for the touchdown. There were missed tackles on the play by Guertin, but it was also another great run by the freshman Parenteau. The extra point was good, and Keene had their first lead of the game at 21-20 with 3:28 left in the 3rd quarter.

8) It was 1st and goal on the 1 yard line for BG. They had a chance to re-take the lead, but Mailloux fumbled it and the ball was recovered by Keene at their own 2.

9) Boulay made an incredible catch for Keene to give them a chance to extend their lead. The Blackbirds were still up 21-20 and on their own 2 yard line. Luopa threw a pass down field for Boulay, who was double covered. Boulay jumped up for the catch against the 2 Guertin defenders. All 3 players battled for the ball, and it was tipped around a few times before Boulay was able to haul it in for the 30 yard reception.

10) Operating out of the shotgun formation, Keene had the ball on their own 28 yard line and still lading the game 21-20. However the snap went over Luopa's head for a fumble. It was recovered by Guertin junior linebacker James Carver on the 10 yard line, and he ran it in for what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown. BG led 26-21, and then Cuipa hit Karaska in the left corner of the end zone for the 2 point conversion, making it 28-21 Cardinals with 9:52 left in the game.

11) Keene then had a chance to tie or take the lead. But then Luopa fumbled the ball, and it was recovered by Karaska on the Blackbirds 32 yard line.

12) Just a couple plays later BG fumbled it right back, giving Keene another shot. Mailloux fumbled it once again, and this time it was recovered by Blackbird senior Ben Hardy giving Keene the ball back at their own 9.

13) Another great play call by Keene and also good execution by the Blackbirds. It was 4th down and 4 way back at their own 15. BG brought the house, blitzing Luopa, but then just as the pass rush got to him Luopa threw a screen pass to senior DE/TE Matt Cunningham who ran for a 32 yard gain.

14) Now it was Keene's last chance to tie or win the game. 4th and 22 on the BG 25 yard line with just 37.4 seconds left. Luopa's pass fell incomplete though, as it was broken up by a pair of Guertin defenders, including Lansing who was injured on the play. Turnover on downs. Game over.


What a great game! And now BG is headed to the Division II title game where they will take on #2 seed Winnacunnet in a rematch of last year's D-II championship bout.

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