Kearsarge and Monadnock are two teams that are mirror images of each other. Both teams are lead by a strong core of senior leadership and both teams prefer running the football. On paper they are dead even. Saturday's match up would be decided by big plays made from the defensive side of the ball.
Kearsarge senior quarterback Peter Allen lead the way on defense by coming up with 3 interceptions the first was a back breaking 86 yard pick and run to the end zone which put Kearsarge up 7-0 and changed the early momentum. This forced the Huskies to play catch up the rest of the game and they were never able to rebound as the Cougars won a huge division 5 match up 21-7.
The first quarter was a feeling out process. Both teams trying to establish the line of scrimmage with their running attacks. The Huskies using senior running backs Dylan Lane and Jake Poulin while the Cougars handed the ball to their senior duo of Ollie Gallo and Eric Hauck, The first couple of possessions were are a stale mate with neither team getting an advantage.
The first big break came when Husky Isiah Prince returned a Justin Lamphear punt deep into to Cougar territory giving the Huskies the ball at the Cougar 18. With Monadnock in great field position on a 3rd and 6 Husky QB Will Kitterman tried to hit what seemed to be an open receiver put alertly Allen stepped in front intercepted the pass and out ran the entire husky offense all the way to the end zone. If the Huskies score on that possession it could have been a totally different game?
The Cougars who have been scoring at will with their running attack over the last 4 games but in this game relied on their equally talented defense to make the difference in this huge win. Cougar linebackers Jordan Barthol, Justin Lamphear, Jacob Jones, and Hugh Ramierz made one big play after another, Blitzing from all different angles disrupting the Husky blocking schemes. Monadnock had another golden opportunity in the 2nd quarter when the Cougar punter Lamphear after a low snap accidentally placed is knee on the ground giving the ball to the Huskies on downs at the Cougar 19. The Cougar defense stood strong not allowing the Huskies a first down.
The Husky defense was almost as good as the Cougars when Kearsarge went to a different look lining up in a stack I formation they were able to find a crack in the Husky defense. With Huskies crowding the line of scrimmage Ollie Gallo running off tackle got to the next level and found some open green ran 52 yards for the Cougars second score. This was Kearsarge's only big offensive play of the game putting them up 14-0 going into the halftime.
Monadnock after having no success moving the ball with their bread and butter offense made the decision to open things up and change to the spread. This definitely put the Cougars defense back on their heels. With the Cougar defense spread out to match up with the Husky receivers the Husky running backs finally found some room to run. The Huskies finally got a break after a Cougar fumble gave them the ball at the Cougar 29. This turned out to be the only Cougar turnover of the game. The Huskies Poulin ran it in from the 2 closing the score to 14-7 with 6 minutes left in the game.
The Huskies had one more good shot to tie up the score starting at their 34 with 2:57 to play. Kitterman hit Husky end Sam Bednar with a 32 yard pass but the Cougar defense still had one more big play in them to nail the door shut. Cougar linebacker Jordan Barthol perfectly read a Husky middle screen and picked off the Kitterman pass and raced 70 yards for the final score of the game.
Kearsarge coach Zach Matthews was very pleased with his teams effort on the day. "when your defense can score 2 touchdowns you know you have a good chance to win the football game. We had a great effort today against a very good football team." The way things are playing out Matthews knows there is a very good chance that he will have to play the Huskies again in the first round of the playoffs. " They are going to be tough to beat twice the odds of us scoring 2 defensive touchdowns again aren't very high but we need to take care of business next week at Stevens and then we will be in good position for a home play off game."
D5 looks like a 3 team race with Somersworth having the best chance of getting home field advantage. Kearsarge is the hottest team in the division but they will have to beat the Huskies again and then go on the road to Somersworth a place that the Cougars have not had a lot of luck over the years. Stevens seems to be running out of steam, I am sure injuries are a big factor but no one would have predicted them losing to Pelham Friday night?
Off the subject but I would like to put a shout out to Ray Kershaw and the Mascoma Royals! After losing to Brady and Newport on back to back weeks earlier in the season they have been on some kind of roll, spanking Newfound who was undefeated at the time and Campbell who has a 1500 yard rusher. D6 is crazy division totally up in the air with a number of teams with a shot at winning it all! I guess the Royals have to be the favorites at this point even Brady has worked it's way back into the race! There is the potential for 5 teams to be tied at 5-3 after next week. Who is going to figure out the tiebreaker in that scenario?