By: Ross Laorenza
Four quarters wasn’wasn't enough to decide this title game between the Portsmouth Clippers and the Plymouth Bobcats. After the initial 48 minutes we went into overtime. Here’s how it all broke down.
Plymouth would get the ball first in this one. The Bobcats were led by QB Colin Sullivan and RB John Thomas. It was Thomas who would get the ball early and often as the main part of the Bobcat rushing attack. He saw the ball six times on the opening possession including a 29 yard touchdown run. Plymouth takes the early 7-0 lead with 9:34 remaining in the first quarter.
Portsmouth would respond on the ensuing possession. QB Donovan Phanor showcased his skills with his arm and his legs evading several would sack in the game. He picked up 26 yard on the ground on the first drive and then with a first and ten at the eleven yard line he connected with LodenFormichelli for an 11 yard touchdown pass. It seemed early this would be a back and forth, high scoring affair. With 6:13 remaining in the first quarter the game is tied 7-7.
Plymouth would take their next drive down to the 8 yard line, but a costly fumble turned the ball over to Portsmouth. It was a defensive struggle the rest of the first half with several crucial fourth down stops for both teams. The first half would end still in a 7-7 tie.
Portsmouth would get the ball to start the second half, but a penalty and an incompletion forced the quick three and out. A shanked punt gave Plymouth the ball on the 23. Justin Robinson broke a run down to the one and from there Colin Sullivan scored on the QB dive. Plymouth takes a 14-7 lead.
Portsmouth started their next drive at the 30. After escaping the rush on one play, Donovan Phanor connected with S. Mikel Toar for a 36 yard pass and catch, rumbling the ball down to the 19. Phanor slipped up the middle on a QB scramble for the 19 yard touchdown that tied the game 14-14 with 8:22 to go in the third quarter.
The best chance to break the tie came at the start of the fourth quarter. Portsmouth had driven down deep inside Bobcat territory. Facing third and goal from the one yard line Phanor gave the ball to Toar on a dive, but the ball was fumbled and recovered by Plymouth. A golden opportunity fell by the wayside for the Clippers. Solid defense by both sides throughout the rest of the quarter left us with a 14-14 tie at the end of regulation. Now on to overtime.
In overtime each team gets a chance to possess the ball starting at 10 yard line. If the first team scores the second team still gets a chance to score. Portsmouth won the coin toss and elected to go on defense first.
Plymouth was flagged for holding on their first snap, moving the ball back to the 26. On the next play Colin Sullivan found Jared Kuehl out to his right on a screen pass that picked up 14. Facing second and twelve Sullivan rolled left and then raced for the corner of the endzone for the go ahead touchdown. Plymouth leads 21-14.
S. Mikel Toar was the first to touch the ball for the Clippers as they tried to tie the game. He picked up 5 yard running right. It was then Donovan Phanor getting stopped in the backfield for a one yard loss. His third down pass fell incomplete on a great defensive play by Plymouth and now it all comes down to this. Phanor rolls left as pressure came up the middle, he finds a receiver running across the back of the end zone, but the pass falls incomplete.
Plymouth wins the title 21-14. What an amazing way to end the season. My congratulations go out to both teams on a remarkable year. It was a pleasure to watch both teams battle it out on the field today.
From Plymouth, New Hampshire. Ross Laorenza: New Hampshire Notebook.