By: Ross Laorenza
Concord and Winnacunnet headed into Friday night’s game both looking to start the season 2-0. Winnacunnet defeated Dover handily last week 55-0, while Concord was coming off a 26-20 win over Goffstown. The Crimson Tide would be victorious, gritting out a 33-21 win.
Concord won the coin toss and elected to differ. An early interception by George Tarwo (#42) looked to give his team good field position, but a fumble on Concord’s first offensive play gave the ball back over to Winnacunnet.
Brian Auffant (#16) took control of the Warrior offense, looking to leave his early interception behind him. Facing a third and 7 at his own 40 yard line, he was able to elude the rush and slip a pass out to Mike Lewis (#28) for a 15 yard gain. From there the drive would stall and the Warriors would punt.
Quarterback Robert Law (#10) and the Crimson Tide offense would start at their 26 after a good punt from Sean Cotter. Leo Sudieh (#8) started off his night with an 11 yard rush. A few plays later his team called on him again facing a fourth and 3 inside Winnacunnet territory, but he was stopped just short.
After Winnacunnet drove back over midfield another turnover proved costly. A fumble in the backfield gave Concord possession at their 45. From there it took only one play, a 55 yard strike from Robert Law to Walter Szulc (#2), to give Concord a 7-0 lead. The first quarter would end that way. Concord: 7, Winnacunnet: 0.
The Warrior’s ensuing drive looked to be a promising one. Auffant was executing the triple-option very well, early on. But again the drive stalled inside Concord territory and the ball would be turned over on downs. With just under nine minutes to go in the half Leo Sudieh took a screen pass 58 yardsto the endzone giving Concord a 14-0 lead.
Winnacunnet responded quickly on their ensuing drive. A 30 yard rush from Christian LaRosa (#32) set the Warriors up on the Concord 34 yard line. Four plays later (#23) Bobby Brown took the ball in for a 19 yard rushing touchdown. Winnacunnet faked the extra point kick and instead passed the ball to Jon Carrigan for a 2-point conversion. With 6:21 remaining in the half Winnacunnet had cut the lead to 14-8.
Concord countered quickly with Leo Sudieh showing off his speed again. He took the handoff 46 yards to the left and pulled away from the defense for the score that increased his team’s lead to 20-8. Coach Eric Brown acknowledged Sudieh’s performance after the game with the game ball.
“He was having a great night,” said Brown, mention the two long scoring plays. “It was a battle tonight, we we’re up for the challenge.”
Concord went into the half with a 20-8 lead, but Winnacunnet would mount an impressive third quarter. Christian LaRosa started of the second half scoring with a 29 yard touchdown up the middle that cut the lead to 20-15. Concord had two would-be interceptions called back by penalties on Winnacunnet’s next drive leading to another Warrior touchdown. For the first time Winnacunnet pulled into the lead. After a failed 2-point conversion the score was Winnacunnet: 21, Concord, 20.
Concord turned to their star back on their next drive. Sudieh rushed for 75 yards on 8 plays including a 3 yard rushing touchdown to put his team back on top 26-21 with just over 5:30 to play in the fourth quarter.
Winnacunnet had two more drives at the end of the game to try and regain the lead, but the Concord defense sealed the victory with a strip sack and touchdown by linebacker Danny Lawrence.
Final score Concord: 33, Winnacunnet: 21.
When asked how his team turned the game around in the fourth Coach Brown said, “We stayed together. We didn’t want to panic.
Concord held tough for a great team win to improve to 2-0.
From Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, New Hampshire, Ross Laorenza: New Hampshire Notebook.