Saturday, September 24, 2011

STA Outlasts Somersworth in D-V

In a match-up of seacoast rivals, and 2 of the best teams in Division V football, St. Thomas improved to 4-0 on the season with a BIG road victory over Somersworth 16-13 on Friday night.

There's no question that these are 2 VERY evenly matched teams, and this game went down to the final second - literally. With 1 second left, the Hilltoppers had the ball on their own 33 with one last chance to win the game, trailing 16-13. But QB Drew Francoeur completed a short pass to Josh Ream, who was then tackled at the 37 yard line. Game over.

"We really rallied together as a team tonight" said St. Thomas RB/DB David Rogers, who had 119 total yards and 2 TD's on offense, and 1 interception on defense in the win. "We overcame obstacles all game, I'm proud of our team."

Defensive Stand Late Was Key to Win for Saints
Francoeur's last second pass to Ream may have been the game's final play, but Somersworth's best chance for a comeback actually came on their previous drive.

Trailing 16-13, the Hilltoppers had possession with 4:11 left at their own 13 yard line. Although they were deep in their own territory, they had plenty of time to at least get in field goal range, if not score a go-ahead touchdown. And on the first play of the drive, Ream (who had 114 total yards and a TD) rushed for 31 yards. On the very next play he got the ball again, and this time ran for 21 yards another Hilltopper 1st down to the STA 45 yard line. Somersworth was now the team with the momentum, and after those last 2 plays you got the sense that Ream would take the next hand off and run it right in for the score.

However, that's when the Saints defense stepped up. Ream got 52 yards on 2 carries on the first 2 plays of the drive - but on the next 3 plays, 5 yards was all he was able to muster. That forced a 4th down and 5 situation for the Hilltoppers, and at the time it looked like that play would be their last chance. Spencer Barnes went in motion from their near side of the field, took the hand off and tried to find running room outside the tackles on the far side. However he was brought down for no gain by the STA defense. Turnover on downs.

Being able to shut down Ream like that with the game on the line after he had those 2 big runs was HUGE for St. Thomas.

"Our guys just buckled down there and did a better job of wrapping him up" said St. Thomas head coach Eric Cumba. "Ream is a great player though, and a very tough runner. Our offense kept us in this game, but our defense won it."

Playing well for the Saints defensively in this game were Rogers, Andrew Kahr, Luke Devaney and Tom Cifrino.

Somersworth Battled All Game
You have to give Somersworth credit - they may have lost the game, but if not for a play here or a call there it would have been a different story. They trailed the entire game, and even trailed by 2 scores a couple times but they hung tough and just kept fighting. Time after time, just when it looked like STA was ready to pull away, the Hilltoppers would get a big play from Ream, Francoeur or senior Casey Soucie to get them right back in it.

After St. Thomas went up 10-0, Ream came right back for the Hilltoppers and ran in a 19 yard touchdown. Ream also had those 2 big runs late in the 4th quarter which gave the team hope before the drive was stalled by the great play of the STA defense.

Then after Somersworth went down 16-7 it was Francoeur who stepped up, making a pair of BIG runs to get them back in it. They had to start the back at their own 32, but their junior QB led the way. He ran for 21 yards, then went for a 26 yard rushing touchdown, making it a 16-13 game with 10:24 left. The plays really got the crowd into it, and got the defense fired up as well, since they shut out STA for the rest of the game.

Kicking Game Was Also Key
A number of key plays in this one came in the kicking game. On Somersworth's first TD they were able to start their drive at the STA 19 yard line after the Saints tried to punt the ball away but the snap went over the head of punter Hayden Middleton. Somersworth tackled Middleton on his own 19 and on the next play Ream ran in the TD.

Somersworth has a punting blunder of their own. Early in the 3rd quarter, the Hilltoppers attempted a punt around midfield. Typically when you punt on this part of the field you're expecting to pin your opponent deep inside their own territory. However, with the rain pouring down onto the field, the ball hit off the side of the Somersworth punter's foot and only netted 9 yards. St. Thomas was able to start the drive on the Hilltopper's 42 yard line. Just a few plays later, Rogers ran in a 28 yard touchdown to make it 16-7 Saints.

Also, Middleton was 2/2 kicking field goals, hitting from 22 and 16 yards. He was 1/2 on extra points, while Somersworth missed an extra point of their own. However, Middleton did do a nice job on his punts, forcing the Hilltoppers into unfavorable field position on a number of occasions.

Other Notes
Something else Somersworth can hang their hat on is that they held STA junior running back Ryan Monette in check. Monette had 293 total yards and 4 TD's in week 1 vs. Campbell. But in this game he was held to just 36 yards on 19 carries.

Rogers had a big game for STA, but he definitely had help. I mentioned the other guys who stood out on defense, and on offense Tylor Buckley, QB Scott Munroe and Peter Yarosewick also played well. Buckley made a Munroe and Buckley connected on a big 28 yard pass play which set up the 22 yard FG by Middleton. And Yarosewick made some big runs and catches in the 2nd quarter which gave the team a lift.

For Somersworth, Brendon Lennon made plays all game on both sides of the football, while Darren Glore and Tyler Kretschmar played well defensively.

What This Means for D-V
With the win, STA is now 4-0 and you have to consider them to be the favorite in Division V. However as we saw in this game, there is not much AT ALL that separates them from Somersworth. Meanwhile, Somersworth only other lost so far was to Bow, and Bow's only loss was to Kearsarge, ans their only loss was to Somersworth. Having said all of that, I think it's safe to say that St. Thomas, Kearsarge, Somersworth and Bow are all pretty evenly matched teams and any one of those 4 teams could end up winning the D-V championship. And if Stevens star QB Logan Batchelder didn't suffer a season ending ACL injury the Cardinals would likely be right in that mix as well.

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