Entering the 4th quarter on Saturday night at Stellos Stadium in Nashua, Winnacunnet (just 2-5 entering the game) had a 13-10 lead on Bishop Guertin (#4 ranked team in the entire state), and the Warriors were on verge of the biggest upset of the season so far.
But folks, that's why they play 4 quarters. BG outscored Winnacunnet 15-0 in the 4th quarter, dodging a bullet, coming away with a 25-13 win and improving their record to 6-2 on the season (6-0 in Division II).
2 big plays by Bishop Guertin ended up being the difference, with one coming on the very first play of the game and the other coming with just 2:30 left in the 4th quarter. CJ Boykin Jr. (who also made a BIG interception on defense late in the 3rd quarter) rtook the game's opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown to make it 6-0 BG. Initially it looked like Boykin was going to get tackled around the 25 yard line, but he made a nifty move to break a couple tackles, got some good blocks and then he showed his tremendous speed taking it to the house. The other big play for the Cardinals came late in the 4th quarter, with Winnacunnet trying to get the ball back after going down 18-13. BG had the ball, but it was 4th down and they were lined up in a punting formation. If the Warriors could get the ball back, they would have their timeouts and over 2 minutes to try and get a score. But BG faked the punt, and punter Patrick Bilodeau threw the ball down field to Kevin Kiczuk, connecting on a 27 yard completion, getting inside the Winnacunnet 20 yard line for a 1st down. Just a couple plays later, Zach Mailloux (101 total yards and 2 touchdowns) ran in a 4 yard TD and after the extra point it was 25-13, sealing the win for Guertin.
You have to give Winnacunnet a lot of credit for the way they battled in this game. They have a sophomore quarterback in IngHao Vaesna who is going to be a very fun player to watch over the next couple years. He has a strong arm, can throw on the run, makes good decisions, has good mobility and really plays the game with a lot of toughness and grit. The Warriors have a pair of running backs who ran hard all game in Drew Rocco and Ben Franzoso. And defensively Mitch Lapierre, Sam Bonsaint, Will Doyle, Jon Flagg, Christian Dyer, Matt Myers and Liam Coleman all played well.
Vaesna ran in an 8 yard TD to tie it up at 7-7 with 7:32 left in the 2nd quarter, then after a 27 yard field goal by BG kicker Steve Toscano put the Cardinals up 10-7 at halftime. Then Franzoso ran in a 13 yard TD to put Winnacunnet on top 13-10 with 5:23 left in the 3rd quarter. The Warriors rode that momentum on the next possession, as Lapierre and Doyle both made big plays defensively to force a punt by BG. The BG defense would step it up from that point on however. They forced Winnacunent to pint from way back in their own end zone, the snap went over the head of the punter and into the end zone for a safety. Just like that the momentum shifted to the Guertin sideline and a BG team which wasn't playing with much intensity until then turned it around. Mailloux scored his first of 2 4th quarter TD's on the ensuing Cardinals drive.
Coach Auffant's Winnacunnet team battled hard, and even though they were big underdogs in this game they played without fear and executing well on both sides of the ball. They've had a tough season, especially compared to the last few years, but they really played hard out there tonight and left it all out on the field. BG definitely didn't play their best game but was still able to come away with the win.
Also playing well for BG were Sean Fenn (a number of hard hits), Mark Hall (solid play on the line), sophomore John Miller (had a big sack in 2nd quarter), Blake Boudreau (brought toughness on both sides of the ball). Also, QB Bob Fahey rushed for 56 yards. He also ran for a touchdown which was called back due to a holding penalty and also had a TD pass dropped by Nate Chartrand (VERY close call, almost looked like Chartrand had possession of the ball in the end zone before he dropped it).
Bishop Guertin has to be considered heavy favorites to win the D-II title. They finish the regular season with Alvirne and Keene, and will be BIG favorites in both games, which means they'll likely end the regular season with a perfect 8-0 record in D-II. However if they played like they did tonight I would not be surprised if Dover, Timberlane or Spaulding beat them. Winnacunnet isn't as good as those 3 teams and they still almost beat BG tonight. That being said, Guertin is a team playing with injuries (then again who isn't this time of year?). Senior captain Brody Smith is still out, Lucas Lansing was out tonight with a concussion he suffered last weekend and Paul Spinney is out for the year with a broken collarbone.
With the loss Winnacunnet drops to 2-4 in the division but they're still in the playoff hunt. They own the tie-breaker over Spaulding, who is 4-3 and has Timberlane next week. So if Timberlane wins that game and Winnacunnet wins their last 2 games (vs. Keene and Merrimack) the Warriors will be in.