Saturday, October 20, 2012

Plymouth Stomps St. Thomas to Remain Unbeaten

There has been a lot of talk about whether or not Division IV leading Plymouth should be ranked as one of the top 10 high school football teams in New Hampshire. Well on Saturday afternoon with the NH Notebook in the house covering the action they made a pretty good case for themselves.

After getting off to a slow start, the Bobcats really got rolling late in the 1st quarter. They scored 28 points in a 7 minute span, went up 35-0 at halftime and cruised to a 38-0 win over St. Thomas.

Junior QB Collin Sullivan threw 3 touchdown passes, senior RB/DB Brandon Goodale ran for 1 TD and returned a punt 50 yards for another score. And Junior RB/LB John Thomas had 85 rushing yards on just 7 carries, plus 6 tackles and 1 interception on defense. With the win, Plymouth is now 8-0 on the season and have won all 8 games by at least 16 points.

"I was responsible for our slow start" said Sullivan. "But then we ran a waggle and I made a pass to (Noah) Crane. That play sparked us, and then (Jared) Kuehl made some good runs, Goodale got a touchdown and then the defense didn't let up all game."

St. Thomas was hanging right in there with Plymouth early on in this game. With 2:00 left in the 1st quarter it was a scoreless football game. Not only that, but up until that point the Saints were actually the team that came the closest to scoring.

On the very first drive of the game STA had a pretty good shot at scoring. They started out on their own 35 yard line but were able to get a couple of first downs and got some momentum going, despite some nice hits defesnievly by Plymouth's Brandon David and Kyle Reisert.

The Saints got into Plymouth territory, and up came a crucial 4th down and 12 play from the Bobcats 42 yard line. QB Trevor Martin dropped back and had a receiver open. He hit sophomore Charles Pollack right in the hands right around the 10 yard line. But Pollack dropped the pass, and Plymouth got the ball back on a turnover on downs. If Pollack makes that catch he may have gone in for a TD. At the least it would have been a 1st down for STA around the Plymouth 10 yard line with the Saints having momentum on their side. Who knows how the game would have gone from there?

Martin by the way is only a freshman, and was starting at quarterback since junior Joe Karsonovich got injured during last week's game vs. Trinity. STA also lost that game 38-0.

"We game planned for the freshman being in there since we saw the film of their game from last week when their starting QB got hurt" said Sullivan.

On Plymouth's first possession they also had a turnover on downs, as Sullivan was stopped jut short of the 1st down marker on a QB keeper on 4th and inches. Goodale had a solid 12 yard run on the drive, and STA linebacker Peter Yarosewick made a nice tackle on a different play.

St. Thomas got the ball back, but shot themseves in the foot with penalties - one was a false start and the other was a holding. They had to punt, but a low snap caused punter Hayden Middleton to fumble the ball. As a result Plymouth got very good field position, taking over on their own 48 yard line.

That's when Sullivan made the pass that he refefrenced in the quote at the beginning of the article. He scrambled away from the pass rush, then connected with Crane for a 15 yard completion (Sullivan was 4/5 passing on the day for 136 yards and 3 TD's).

Thomas then ran for a 16 yard gain, followed by a 7 yard TD run by Goodale to make it 7-0 Bobcats with 1:51 left in the 1st quarter. And just like that the momentum was firmly planted on the Plymouth sideline.

Still, it was only a 1 possession game so STA was still right in the game. But after another good hit by Reisert it was 4th and 4 for St. Thomas on the Plymouth 47. Martin threw an incomplete pass, resulting in another turnover on downs for the Saints.

On the very next play from scrimmage, Sullivan threw a bomb down field to Crane for a 53 yard TD pass. St. Thomas DB Ryan Monette came THIS close to tipping the pass which would have likely resulted in an incompletion. But instead Crane made the catch around the 15 yard line and broke a tackle on his way to the end zone.

"We had 3 receivers in on that play" explained Sullivan. "But coach told me Crane would be open so I locked in on him. Because of the pass rush I couldn't really see him, but I threw it up there anyways and it turned out to be a perfect pass."

That made it 14-0 Plymouth with 11:29 left in the 2nd quarter. That's when defensive end Jon Hughes really started to make his presence felt. He made sacks on back-to-back plays - one went for a loss of 9 yards and the other went for a loss of 6.

STA was forced to punt it away, and that's when Goodale took it to the house. His 50 yard punt return for a TD made it 21-0 Plymouth with 9:37 left in the 1st half. There was no stopping the Bobcats at that point.

"At first I didn't think I was going to take it to the house" said Goodale. "But I got some good blocks and the wall was open. Then I cut it back and took it to the house. Our special teams coach does a great job."

Just 2 minutes later Plymouth scored yet another touchdown. Bobcats senior DB Dylan Hall tipped a pass to give the ball back over to Plymouth. Then Sullivan threw another bomb down field, this one to Hall for a 47 yard TD pass. When it rains it pours, it was pouring on the St. Thomas Saints, who now trailed 28-0 with 7:20 left in the 2nd quarter.

A few minutes later Sullivan threw his third TD pass of the 2nd quarter, this time hitting Reisert from 21 yards out. It was now 35-0 Plymouth with 48:6 left in the 1st half.

St. Thomas had one last chance to score and get some momentum going into halftime, but Martin's pass was intercepted by Thomas. It was 35-0 lymouth at halftime.

Junior Silas Murray kicked a 30 yard field goal for Plymouth on the opening drive of the 2nd half to make it 38-0 Bobcats. Then both teams pulled their starters out and it was running time for the rest of the game.

The Bobcats did a very good job of keeping St. Thomas star running back Ryan Monette in check. Monette is one of the state's top play makers, but in this game he was held to 30 yards rushing on 13 carries. He also caught 1 pass for 20 yards. There's no question that Plymouth was keying on him, and they also kept the ball away from him on kickoffs and punts.

Plymouth has a very good junior class, so you can look for them to once again be a dominant team next season. Sullivan, Thomas, Kuehl and Reisert are all only juniors. That's a pretty good core right there. Next season the NHIAA will have just 3 divisions, with Plymouth being in Division II. The other 2 teams who are expected to eb the power teams in that Division are Souhegan and Portsmouth. But with that core of juniors the Bobcats have coming back they will have to be the favorites next year.

However Plymouth is obviously not looking ahead to next year quite yet, as they still have unfisnihed business in 2012. They want a championship, and they want to beat Trinity in the finals. Last season Trinity beat Plymouth in th D-IV title game.

"We definitely want another shot at Trinity" said Goodale. "This year we are more of a team. They are playing against Windham and it's on a Friday night. We play on a Saturday so we'll be able to go and watch that game."

With the way they have played so far this season, there is now question that the Bobcats are the heavy favorites to win the championship. Are they a top 10 team in the state? Well that's debatable, but they're dfinitely in the discussion!

One other note - with the win, Plymouth's legendary head coach Chuck Lenahan has tied Rod Wotten for the most all-time victories by a head coach in New England. Lenahan has won a staggering 342 games at Plymouth. The guy knows the game, he jas a system that works and he always gets the most out of his players.

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