Saturday, September 22, 2012

Concord Tops South 20-3

In a game that could have determined the fourth playoff spot in Division I, the Concord Crimson took a BIG step towards making their first playoff appearance since 2005 with a 20-3 win over Nashua South on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Field in Concord. Head coach Eric Brown's team improve to 3-1 (2-1 in D-I) on the season.

Concord played tough defense all game long, forcing South junior QB Trevor Knight out of his comfort zone. The defense was led by Marc Gaudet, Logan Lamoureaux and Seth Gosse. Sophomore Robert Law came in at QB in the 2nd half and made some big plays, helping to lead the Crimson to the win on homecoming.

"Our game plan was to pressure their QB (Knight) as much as we could" said Coach Brown. "Coming in I was just as worried about him running as I was about him throwing. We just tried to keep the pressure on him. We haven't come close to beating these guys in a long time, so this is big."

Neither team looked particularly strong in the 1st half. There was a TON of penalties in the 1st half on both sides, especially on Concord. Not only that, but both teams were also dropping a lot of passes and making a lot of mistakes offensively.

Neither team gained much yardage in the 1st half, and the only scoring came on a 21 yard field goal by South kicker Ryan Guidaboni and on a 13 yard TD pass from Gaudet to Seimou Smith. On the latter play, Gaudet ran a play-action, rolled right and hit Smith in stride in the right corner of the end zone. But Concord was able to start that drive on the South 40 yard line, so overall their offense did not gain much yardage in the 1st half.

In the 2nd half Concord continued to play well defensively, and they also looked sharper on offense. The Crimson cut down on their penalties and were more effective moving the football. South meanwhile continued to struggle in the 2nd half.

"I don't have much to say, we didn't play well" said a disappointed Nashua South head coach Scott Knight. "We had a lot of mistakes on offense and tough field position."

In the 2nd half Concord punted on their first drive. Then on their second possession they put Law in at QB - he made an immediate impact on the game. On 3rd and 5 he completed a 7 yard pass pass to Nick Comeau. Then he completed a pass to Smith for 26 yards. Then Law kept it himself and ran for a 14 yard touchdown. The extra point was no good, so it was 13-3 Crimson with 5:04 left in the 3rd quarter.

Then the problems continued for the Purple Panthers. All of a sudden you could see a lot of bickering and finger pointing going on on their sideline. Gaudette sacked Knight for the second time in the 2nd half, this one for an 8 yard loss. Knight had a tough day, with just 3 passing yards, 33 rushing yards, 0 TD's, 1 interception and 1 fumble.

South was playing some solid defense though, especially as far as containing Concord 's explosive senior running back Tolbert Nemo. Nemo is one of the top backs in the state, but in this game he was held to just 55 yards on 22 carries. Brayden Hollowell, Kelmy Anziani, Matthew Byers, Brian McKinley and Steven Choate also played solid defense for the Purple Panthers.

South forced Concord to punt, getting the ball back early in the 4th quarter, still trailing 13-3. South had a tough game to that point, but they were still in it. But unfortunately the dropped passes continued for the Purple Panthers. Then it was 4th and 3 on their own 46 yard line and 10:47 left in the game. South elected to punt, but if you ask me they should have went for it! You're down by 2 scores with only 10:47 left, you only need 3 yards for the 1st down and you're right near midfield - I say go for it!

But they punted it, Concord got the ball back and scored a TD to go up 20-3 and clinch the win. This was a well earned touchdown for the Crimson though, as they had to drive 89 yards. They also took a lot of time off the clock. There was 10:47 left when they got possession, but when they scored there was only 3:37 left. The drive ended with Nemo running in a 3 yard TD. The score came one play after a crucial 4th down run by Nemo. It was 4th and 1 on the South 6 yard line, when Nemo ran for 3 yards and the 1st.

Another big play earlier on that drive for Concord came on 3rd and 10 way back at their own 11 yard line. Law threw a bomb down field, with Walter Szulc hauling in a 40 yard reception.

South got the ball back with 3:31 left to play, but it was already over. No way you're going to score 17 points in such a short amount of time, especially when you haven't even scored a TD all game. Gaudet batted down a pass by Knight at the line of scrimmage. South punted it away and then Concord's offense came back out on the field and took a knee. Game over.

Smith made some great catches in this game. He's 6-foot-1 and has great athleticism. After seeing this game and also checking out his video highlights on Hudl, there is no doubt one of the state's top college prospects from the Class of 2014.

Concord is now the definite favorite for the #4 playoff spot in D-I, with the other candidate for that spot being Nashua North. Concord travels to North on October 12. You have to consider Concord at least slight favorites in that game since they beat Memorial 35-13 but North only beat Memorial 22-17.

As for South, this loss really puts them behind the eight ball to make a return trip to the playoffs. They just aren't as good as they have been in recent years. They were a very good team last year, when they were the #3 seed in the D-I playoffs. But they lost A LOT of talent off that team, including John Bierens, Armond McRae, Derek Paradis and Julier Rivera. Bierens (UMass) and McRae (Merrimack) are both scholarship players, Paradis was a 3 year starter and Rivera was one of the state's top lineman last year. Those are some BIG shoes to fill.

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