Sunday, September 29, 2013

Plymouth Makes Statement, Beats Trinity 35-14

In a highly anticipated showdown between the 2 teams most are picking to meet in the Division II championship game, the Plymouth Bobcats made a statement by going on the road and defeating Trinity in convincing fashion 35-14.

Kyle Reisert hit Trinity QB Carmen Giampetruzzi, forcing a fumble and then Reisert recovered it on the Trinity 11 yard line. On the very next play Kuehl took the handoff, bounced it to the right side edge and score an 11 yard TD. After the extra point by kicker Silas Murray (a perfect 5/5 on PATs and also had a touchback on a kickoff) it was 35-6 Plymouth with just 3:40 left in the 4th quarter. Trinity's players walked slowly back to their sideline, while Plymouth celebrated and took their starters out for the rest of the game.

Just 2 plays before that Plymouth capped a long drive that started back on their own 26 yard line with a 2 yard TD run by Kuehl (he had 172 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns on the day). The score was set up by a 19 yard run by Kuehl where he broke tackles and plowed through defenders - Trinity needed 5 kids to bring him down on that play, Kuehl is a beast at 6-2", 215 lbs.

"Kuel and Thomas are pretty good backs" said Plymouth head coach Chuck Lenahan. "That was big for us to be able keep the ball at the end and get those 1st downs. The defense did their job shutting them down. It was a hell of a team effort."

In addition to his 172 rushing yards and 3 TDs, Kuehl also had a number of bone-jarring hits on 'D'. Reisert had the forced fumble, fumble recovery, was all over the place making tackles on defense and also had a 23 yard TD reception at the end of the 1st half. Senior QB/DB Collin Sullivan had through the 23 yard TD pass to Reisert (was a great pass by Sullivan and Reisert had to walk a tightrope to avoid falling out of bounds), and Sullivan also made an interception on defense (an outstanding diving grab). Senior RB/LB John Thomas had over 80 yards rushing and also played strong defense.

"Reisert had a great defensive effort today" said Lenahan, a legendary coach in his final season at the helm. "And I usually don't like to have my quarterback in there on defense, but Collin intercepts everything."

Plymouth led this game from start to finish. They got on the board on their first drive, marching down the field with the combination of Kuehl and Thomas running the ball. Kuehl ran in his first TD of the day to give the Bobcats the early 7-0 lead. Kuehl has a great combination of size and speed, and at some points in this game looked like a man among boys.

Trinity was forced to punt on their first drive. Plymouth got the ball back, and proceeded to once again march down the field. A 15 yard run by Kuehl was followed by an 11 yard carry by Thomas, then a 17 yard run by Kuehl. It was 1st and 10 for the Bobcats on the Trinity 11, and Plymouth was seriously threatening to take a commanding 2 score lead in the 1st quarter. Then the Pioneers' defense stepped up, as Will Sheppard sacked Sullivan for a 2 yard loss, followed by a big hit by senior RB/LB Zach Poole. That forced the Bobcats to try a field goal, but Murray's 32 yard FG attempt was no good. Bullet successfully dodged by Trinity, who now got the ball back only down 7-0.

Unfortunately though it was Plymouth's defense which got the best of Trinity's offense all game. Lineman Jason Murray made a big hit, followed by tough tackles by both Sullivan and Aaron Evans. On 3rd and 9 on their own 32 yard line Brad Rhoades rushed for a 7 yard gain which brought up 4th and 2 on their own 38. Pioneers head coach Steve Burns elected to go for it, which was a gutsy call. But it worked out, as Poole rushed for a 7 yard pickup and the 1st down. However the drive stalled from there and Giampetruzzi punted it away (a 60 yard punt!).

Plymouth was pinned back at their own 20 yard line, but again they used their 2 strong backs Kuehl and Thomas to grind out a drive and march down the field. Trinity's 'D' was battling hard though, as Tristen Theroux, Ian Landry and Kegan Williams teamed up for a big hit. Kuehl made a big 10 yard run on 3rd and 5 to keep the drive alive, but then junior TE/DL Ryan Boldwin sacked Sullivan for Trinity's second sack of the game. Sullivan got right back up though, keeping it for himself and running for a 2 yard gain on 4th and 1 on the Trinity 33 yard line. That gave Plymouth the 1st down, but the clock was ticking and there was just 27.3 seconds left in the 1st half. A couple plays later is when Sullivan hit Reisert with the 23 yard pass with 3.2 seconds left in the 2nd quarter. At first the official's call was that Reisert was out of bounds, but then he changed the call right after that to a touchdown. This infuriated Coach Burns. The call stood though, and after the PAT by Murray it was 14-0 Plymouth.

That was the score at halftime, as the Bobcats ran into the locker room with smiles on their faces. Plymouth got the ball to begin the 2nd half, looking to build on their 2 possession lead. Thomas made a great kickoff return, all the way to midfield. Landry made a good hit though for Trinity, and Plymouth was forced to punt.

Trinity was way back on their own 3 yard line, and Giampetruzzi's pass was tipped by Smith Merrill and nearly intercepted. Then came a HUGE play. It was 4th and 2 for Trinity on their own 11 yard line. You're way back on your own 11, you have to punt it, right? Well, Coach Burns must be that confident in his offense to be able to gain the 2 yards. Plus, he really didn't want to give the ball back to Plymouth with a chance to go up by 3 scores. So he decided to go for it - bad idea. Poole takes the handoff and picks up just 1 yard, and was stopped just short of the 1st down.

With the turnover on downs, Plymouth now got possession on the Trinity 11 yard line. Talk about great field position! A couple plays later, Sullivan ran it in for the 3 yard TD on a QB keeper. PAT by Murray, 21-0 Plymouth with 7:01 to go in the 3rd quarter.

So now Trinity is down 21-0 in the 2nd half, so naturally they decide to open the offense up and start airing it out. Giampetruzzi threw it deep, but his pass was picked off by Sullivan. However Trinity still had some life left, as Williams hit Kuehl, forcing a fumble which was recovered by Poole for the Pioneers.

Then Rhoades ran for 25 yards, and Trinity was feeling like they had a chance. Kuehl then made a BIG hit for a loss of 5 yards. That brought up 3rd and 13 on the Plymouth 25. 'G' dropped back to pass, but was sacked by Reisert for a loss of 12 - a huge defensive play by Reisert. That brought up 4th and 25 for Trinity on the Plymouth 34 - Giampetruzzi completes a pass, it's lateraled back to Austin Chambers who is stopped short of the 1st down marker. Turnover on downs, and a big defensive stand for the Bobcats.

Time for Plymouth to run some clock, but then Thomas fumbled and it was recovered by Theroux for the Pioneers. Plymouth played a great game, but the one thing they'll need to work on is hanging on to the football.

Trinity gets the ball on the Plymouth 30, but is still down 21-0 and it's now late in the 3rd quarter. They need to hurry up and score and get the ball back quickly. Chambers runs for 11 yards, down to the 15 yard line. Then it's 3rd and 4 for Trinity on the Plymouth 9 - 'G' drops back to pass, gets forced out of the pocket by the Bobcats' pass rush, but is able to run for the 1st down all the way to the 1 yard line. He nearly scored on that play, but then on the next one he keeps it for the 1 yard TD. They went scoreless for the game's first 3 quarters, but finally Trinity was on the board. 2 point conversion no good, and it's 21-6 Plymouth with 10:39 left in the 4th quarter.

Decision time for Trinity - to go for the onside kick or to not go for the onside kick? They still need 2 more touchdowns and it's in the 4th quarter. But is there too much time left to go for it? Coach Burns elected to kick it deep and play defense.

Plymouth made him pay, running 7 minutes off the clock and ending their drive with a 2 yard TD run by Kuehl. It was now 28-6 Bobcats with just 3:40 left to play. You already know how the rest of the game went.

Final score: Plymouth 35 Trinity 14, as the Pioneers got one more TD with Plymouth's starters resting on the sideline. Saikou Bah sprinted for a 44 yard TD and added the 2 point conversion.

"We have a great defensive coaching staff" said Coach Lenahan. "The players read their keys well."

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