Saturday, October 15, 2011

Souhegan Stays Alive in D-III Playoff Hunt, Beats Milford

Robby McCormick threw for 209 yards and 4 touchdowns, and the Souhegan High football team defeated Milford 35-24 on Saturday night in Milford.

The Sabers started the season off 0-3 in Division III. And with the way Portsmouth, Hollis-Brookline, Bedford and Goffstown have been playing this year some people were already counting them out of the playoff picture. But with the win over Milford their playoff hopes are still alive

"A lot of people have been saying that we're down, or asking what's wrong with us" said Souhegan head coach Mike Beliveau following his team's win. "But we're still the 3-time defending state champs. And this was a big win for us, because it keeps the belief that our team has going, that we are still in this."

Milford actually got on the board first in this game, on a 1 yard TD run by QB Bud Theriault. The Spartans led 7-0 at the end of 1 quarter, as Souhegan struggled early on offensively.

"We expected them to give us a different look defensively" said Coach Beliveau. "And when they didn't it threw us off, and it took us awhile to adjust."

Then Souhegan scored touchdowns on 3 straight possessions in the 2nd quarter to take a 21-7 lead. The first 2 scores for the Sabers were TD passes from McCormick to Tim Beliveau (Coach Beliveau's son). Following a nice tackle by Milford's Joe Albina (who rushed for 115 yards and a TD along with excellent play on defense) and a sack by Brett Stagnone, McCormick stepped up in the pocket and fired a bomb down the field to an open Beliveau for a 53 yard TD pass. Then on Souhegan's next possession it was 4th and 16 on the Milford 22 yard line when once again McCormick found Beliveau in the end zone for a 22 yard TD pass. Minutes later senior Chris Chininis ran in a 2 yard TD to make it 21-7 with 2:27 left in the 1st half.

What really hurt Milford in the 1st half was the fumbles. The Spartans fumbled the ball 3 times in the 1st half (twice in the 2nd quarter). Not only were all 3 of them recovered by Souhegan, but all 3 of those Milford fumbles also led directly to Saber touchdowns.

Morgan Andrews (the #2 ranked girls soccer player in the country for the Class of 2013) then kicked a 29 yard field goal on the last play of the 1st half to cut the Souhegan lead to 21-10. Andrews initially missed a 40 yard field goal but the Sabers were called for a roughing the kicker penalty which allowed her to try it again. Andrews came up hobbling a little bit after that first kick when she got hit, but she stayed in the game and kept on kicking. That's good news for Boston College, the school Andrews has committed to play her college soccer at.

On the first drive of the 2nd half Milford made a statement that they were not a team to be taken lightly and that they were right in this football game. Connor Bourne (59 yards rushing) converted a big 4th and 1 play, then Kyle Higgins (85 yards rushing and a TD on the night plus a 46 yard kickoff return) ran in a 47 yard touchdown. After Andrews kicked the extra point through it was a 21-17 Souhegan lead. Thomas Scannell made a great block on the play to free up the sideline for Higgins to run down. Scannell was the smallest player on the field at the time and he blocked a Souhegan player who was much bigger than him, which showed a lot of heart.

However the Sabers would score TD's on the next 2 drives to take a commanding 35-17 lead with just 7:34 left in the 4th quarter. The first score came on a 5 yard TD pass from McCormick to Beliveau (who caught 3 passes, all for TD's and 80 yards). That touchdown was set up by a 37 yard catch by Chininis (who had 3 catches for 76 yards plus 9 yards on the ground and a rushing TD).

Then Milford again turned the ball over, as Alex price made a big interception for Souhegan. After a tough 25 yard run by Jason Doheny, senior Brandon O'Connell caught a screen pass from McCormick and ran it in to the end zone from 19 yards out.

"Robby threw 4 touchdowns last week and 4 tonight" said Coach Beliveau. "We only have 2 returning starters on offense and 2 on defense, but we're getting experience, getting better each week, and Robby is one of those guys."

With the way Milford had been struggling offensively, a 3 score deficit in the 4th quarter seemed insurmountable. But you have to give the Spartans credit, because even though they didn't come back they were able to get another touchdown on the board - and they never stopped fighting.

Also playing well for Souhegan was junior lineman Jake Kennedy, Seth Learned, Tyler Ford, James Ewing and Tyler Hansis. For Milford, credit should also be given to Anton Camillieri, who made some hard hits and left it all out on the field.

The Sabers have 2 very winnable games in the next 2 weeks vs. Con-Val and Pelham, then in the last week of the season they have a HUGE game vs. Bedford.

Following this game, both Souhegan and Milford are 2-3 in the division with 3 weeks left. But since Souhegan has the head-to-head tie-breaker they at least still have a shot at the playoffs while Milford is likely out.

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