Sunday, September 29, 2013

BG Tops Exeter in OT Thriller

2-time defending Division I champs Exeter has been the #1 team in the state of NH for the past 2 years - not anymore. On 4th down and goal from the 5 yard line in overtime, senior captain / quarterback Tommy Hurley scrambled out of the pocket, rolled left and threw a laser over to Jackson Housman for what would turn out to be the game-winning touchdown.

"Hurley made a quick throw" said Bishop Guertin head coach Travis Cote. "Jackson made an unbelievable catch. He's only a sophomore - what a great way to score your first varsity touchdown."

The PAT was good by Christopher Fox and BG re-takes the lead 21-14. Now it's Exeter's turn to get the ball in OT. Guertin's defense stepped up big. Exeter QB Zach Pafford's pass for Max Medley falls incomplete, as DB Kyle Cushion was there with great coverage on the play. Next play, handoff to RB Jay Inzenga - no gain as OL/DL Patrick Flathers made a great hit to stop Inzenga in his tracks. On 4th and goal from the 8, Pafford hits Chris Kelley with a short pass. kelly is brought down at the 5 yard line. Game over, BG wins 21-14 and the Cardinals players storm the field in celebration.


"It's a great feeling" said Bishop Guertin FB/LB Anthony Reale. "We worked hard, I'm very proud of my team."

This was a thrilling game between 2 of the top teams in the state. Exeter got on the board first 7-0. They ran a HB pass play with senior RB/DB Joey Jones throwing a 58 yard pass to Medley. Then Ryan Kelly ran it in from 1 yard out.

BG took awhile to find their rhythm on offense, as Exeter's 'D' (led by lineman Neil Vorster) was causing problems for them. Meanwhile Guertin's defense was also up to the challenge, led by Flathers and senior linebacker John Miller. Miller initially was not going to come out for the team this year, but he made a BIG impact out there for the Cardinals, and was a tackling machine on Saturday night.

"Miller missed the whole preseason and the first game vs. Winnacunnet" explained Coach Cote. "We're glad to have him out there now though."

The Blue Hawks were threatening to go up by 2 scores in the 2nd quarter, as they started a drive on the BG 37 and shortly thereafter advanced to the 20 yard line. But then Exeter was called for a false start penalty, bringing up 4th and 10 on the BG 25. The Cardinals got a good pass rush by Brian Fenn, forcing Pafford out of the pocket. Pafford's pass fell incomplete - turnover on downs.

On Guertin's ensuing possession is when they finally started clicking on offense. Hurley led them to a 14 play, 80 yard drive. He connected on 10/11 passes to end the 1st half. He hit Cushion for a 13 yard pass play on 4th and 2 on the Exeter 45, and soon after that connected with Cushion for the fourth time on the drive. Soon after that it was 1st and goal for BG on the Exeter 7 yard line. The Blue Hawks' 'D' was hanging tough though, as Chris Kelley and James Mundy both had some hard hits on the drive. But then Hurley found Aidan Loftus in the corner of the end zone for a 5 yard TD pass. Great throw, great catch, and after the PAT by Fox it was all tied up 7-7 with 1:29 to play in the 1st half.

"We saw the Winnacunnet tape" said Coach Cote. "So we thought we could beat them with those short, quick passes. I told them there's nothing wrong with a 3 yard pass. It's a part of our arsenal. Hurley played a great game tonight."

Exeter got the ball with a chance to answer back before the half, but Reale absolutely leveled Inzenga on a carry. The teams head to the locker room knotted at 7-7.

Inzenga torched Winnacunnet last week for 272 rushing yards and 3 TDs, but against BG he had less than 90 yards and no touchdowns. For that you have to give BG's defense a lot of credit.

"Exeter ball to start the 2nd half. Another big hit by Miller, but then Inzenga makes a big run on 3rd and 9 from his own 33 by rushing for 12 yards and the 1st down. Miller and Chase Hughes team up for a big hit, and Exeter is forced to punt.

BG has to start their next drive way back on their own 8 yard line. Hurley makes a great play, as he was forced out of the pocket and nearly sacked. He avoids the sack, and on 3rd and 4 from his own 14 he throws it on the run and connects with Michael Devereaux for a 6 yard gain and the 1st down. Great play by Hurley to keep the drive going. Then the handoff to Reale - it looked initially like he was down right at the line of scrimmage. But there was no whistle, and Reale bursts through the Exeter defense and is off to the races. A 61 yard TD run, and after the PAT by Fox it's 14-7 Guertin with 4:52 left in the 3rd quarter.

"They had me wrapped up, but I just kept pumping my legs" said Reale. "Then I broke through and saw daylight ahead of me."

That play really pumped up the Cardinals and their fans, but there was still a long way to go. Exeter answers back, going on a classic Blue Hawk drive. They ate up over 7 minutes, methodically moving down the field with the running plays and clutch 3rd/4th down conversions. Miller made another great hit, then David Hanna did the same on 3rd and 4 to bring up 4th down and 2 for Exeter on the BG 39 yard line. Chris Kelley made a tough 3 yard run for the 1st down. Then on 4th and 1 on the BG 26 it was once again Chris Kelley who came through with the 1st down carry, picking up 1 yard - barely enough to move the chains. Flathers (6'5", 275 lbs.) left the game with a foot injury, which left Exeter with a decided size advantage up front. The Blue Hawks continued to pound the ball with the run and try to wear down the BG defense. Ryan Kelly capped the drive with a 6 yard TD run (his 2nd score of the game), and after the PAT by Matt Oppici it was all tied up 14-14 with 9:38 left in regulation.

It was now BG's turn to try and answer back. The Exeter defense was up to the challenge though, as Medley knocked the ball out of Housman's hands as he tried to make a catch. Hurley bounced back though, making yet another terrific throw on the run after scrambling out of the pocket. This time he hit Cushion for an 11 yard gain on 3rd and 10 on their own 29. Then he connected with Devereaux for a 19 yard completion. A few plays later it was 4th down and 4 on the Exeter 37 yard line. Hurley dropped back to pass, but lineman Adam Kukesh made a HUGE defensive play for the Blue Hawks by sacking Hurley. Turnover on downs, Exeter football.

Right after that though Chris Kelley carried it, got hit and fumbled the ball. It was recovered by sophomore Thomas Hart for Guertin. BG couldn't cash in though, as Vorster made yet another big play on 'D' by batting down a pass attempt by Hurley on 3rd and 2 from his own 43. BG punted it away, giving the Blue Hawks possession with just 3:38 remaining in the 4th.

Ryan Kelly picked up 5 yards on the ground on a crucial 4th down and 3 play on their own 39 yard line. Hughes made a great hit on Inzenga for no gain. Pafford hit Medley (who made a great catch along the sideline) for 7 yards. Then Ryan Kelly made another big 4th down conversion run, picking up 10 yards and 4th and 1. Pafford then scrambled and ran for 9 yards. He got out of bounds, as Exeter got to the BG 27 yard line. Time was running out, and Pafford threw it on the run. His pass was intercepted by Cushion with 0.1 seconds left in regulation. Hurley takes a knee and we head to overtime.

Flathers returns to the lineup, and BG goes on to win it in OT.

"I'm very pleased with the way we played tonight" said Cote. "They've been the top team in the state for 2 years, it's a huge win for us. We have felt like we haven't been getting enough respect around the state so we had something to prove out here. Patrick has been battling a wheel injury so he had to come out. I told him he wasn't staying on the sideline though, we needed him in there at the end."














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