The Monadnock Huskies on a homecoming Saturday night matched up with the division leading Somersworth Hilltoppers in a game that could end up being a playoff preview in Division 5. The Hilltoppers, suffering from the effects of the long bus ride from the seacoast to the western part of the state were held without a first down until under 3 minutes to go in the 4th quarter.
They almost pulled off a miracle comeback reminiscent of the Trinity/Plymouth game from last season before falling just short, losing to the Huskies in overtime 21-14. Monadnock showed good character in being able to still win the game after losing a 14-0 lead.
"This was a big win for these kids and our program" said Huskies coach Linwood Patnode. "We are just learning what it takes to win football games! We out gained Stevens in our home opener by a 3 to 1 margin and lost that game."
Monadnock always known as a hard nosed physical football program but
they have had very few play off appearances in their recent history.
Coach Patnode knows that this year could be different. They are a team
loaded with senior experience and a team that needed to prove to themselves
that they can win the big games!
Saturday nights game was an old fashion bear knuckle heavyweight
fight. Both teams wanted to control the line of scrimmage by running
the ball between the tackles with a ground and pound style of offense.
The first half and most of the game was played at the Huskies tempo.
Monadnock very first play from scrimmage saw the Hilltoppers defense
make a monster hit and create a fumble and turnover at the Husky 37.
Somersworth had a golden opportunity to start the game but a penalty
moved them back and they were forced to to punt the ball back to the
The first scoring drive of the game was 16 plays highlighted by a 4th
down throw from #12 senior quarterback Will Kitterman to is number one
target #48 tight end DJ Lotito for a 13 yard gain and a big first
down to keep the drive going. A few plays later running back
#31 Dylan Lane scored off tackle with a 2 yard run.
Monadnock takes the lead 7-0 into the halftime.
The strength of the Huskies is definitely their 10 men in the box
blitzing style of defense. Led by a veteran corp of linebackers #3 Zach
Jarvis, #28 Jake Poulin, #44 Drew Bolewski, #55 Nick Patterson.
They held Hilltopper quarterback Drew Francouer arguably the best
in the division was held in check almost the whole game. Almost
is the keyword because the last 2 and half minutes of the game
was nothing like the first 46 minutes!
The second half was more of the same. The Huskies controlled the game
with their running attack and a short passing game to their tight
end. They had over 250 yards rushing as a team while using a stable
of running backs. Dylan Lane gets the most carries but they also use
#28 Jake Poulin, #44 Drew Bolewski, #23 Isiah Prince, and #21 Dylan Bell. They constantly run fresh legs out on the field and their goal
is to wear you out.
Three minutes into the fourth quarter Monadnock put together another
impressive long drive highlighted by a big 4th down run by Prince that
kept the drive going. A few plays later Poulin takes it in from 3 yards out.
The Huskies go up 14-0 and with the way the defense is playing this
game looks like it's in the win column for Monadnock.
The Hilltoppers after 8 consecutive drives without a first down got
the ball at their own 40 yard line. Francouer lines up in a shotgun
spread and the magic begins. It takes the Hilltopper quarterback
only 2 plays to go 60 yards. He scrambles 21 on the first play
and 39 on the second all the way to the end zone. With
2:20 left in the game the score is 14-7 and the Hilltoppers have a
The Huskies send out their hands team waiting for the on side kick.
They do a good job recovering the kick and all they need is one
first down and the game is over.
The Huskies can't move the ball and are force to punt. Husky punter
Isiah Prince is standing at is 15, the snap is a little low and when
he steps forward to catch the ball his eyes look up at the Hilltopper
rush. The ball hits his hands and he is unable to gain control. The
Hilltoppers tackle Prince and take over on downs at the 17
with 1:02 left in the game.
The wind has been knocked totally out of the Huskies. The homecoming
crowd has gone dead silent. There is no way they are going to keep
Francouer from getting his team into the end zone.Two plays later he
hits a wide open #10 Isiah Gaddy across the middle for a touchdown.
The Husky defense who had played marvelously all game is stunned.
Now Hilltopper coach Don Hodsdon has to make a huge call,
does he go for 2 and the win or does he kick and tie the game up?
The conventional thinking is to go for 2 and the win when you are on
the road. Hodsdon goes for 1 and ties the game 14-14.
Less then a minute to go Huskies still have time for a couple plays.
Quarterback Kitterman may not be the biggest kid or have the strongest
arm but one thing the he does have is heart and he is a leader out on
that football field. Kitterman hits Lotito with 2 big passes and gets
the ball to the 30 and a chance at a 37 yard field goal. The Husky
kicker kicks it perfectly straight but comes up a couple yards short,
we are onto overtime.
Sommersworth wins the coin toss and starts on defense. The very first
play at the 10 everyone knows that Monadnock is going to run off
tackle. The call of the night goes to the Husky offensive coordinator,
Kitterman rolls to the right and the wing on that side runs a clearing route
to the back corner of the end zone. Tight end Lotito delays
at the line of scrimmage and slides into the flat catches a 5 yard pass
and takes it into the end zone, the Huskies score on the first play
of overtime and go up 21-14!
Now it is the Hilltoppers turn, everyone knows who's hands the
football will be in. Francouer boots left and is into the end zone
with the score. I am standing right at the 5 with the play coming
right at me. I could see that Francouer was going to make the corner
and score what I didn't see was that a Hilltopper blocked someone in
the back at the 4. The ball is moved back to the 14, Francouer is sacked
on the next play pushing them back to the 17.Two passes out of the
end zone ends a very exciting hard played mid season game.
There is a very good chance that these two teams will see each other
again in November. Division 5 is turning into a 4 team race that on
any given night anyone of the 4 could win. Monadnock, Somersworth, Kearsarge, and Stevens all have what takes. Right now after week 4 if I had to pick a favorite I would give a very slight edge to Monadnock, mainly because they have 16 seniors and they know this is their last chance to go out as champions! Stay tuned, there
still is a lot big games left on the season and I have been known to
change my picks.