Saturday afternoon's Division I showdown between Goffstown and Exeter was a tossup coming in. Exeter was 2-0 with a pair of close wins, while Goffstown had a blowout win and a close loss to defending champs Concord. And overall it was a fairly even game, but Goffstown has more speed on the edge and a more explosive offense, and they defeated the Blue Hawks at home 28-14 in front of a good crowd. Goffstown has kids who are tough and can make plays at all positions.
Connor Bourque ran for 105 yards and 3 touchdowns, including a 47 yard scamper which put the Grizzlies on top 28-14 with just 2:35 left in the 4th quarter. Bourque also caught 5 passes for 19 yards. Goffstown QB Casey Gervais also had a big game, completing 17/22 passes for 122 yards, including a 38 yard TD pass to Christian Marquis.
"I'm not surprised by how good they were, I saw the film" said Exeter head coach Bill Ball. "We put the ball on the grass a little bit, but that was due to them. They're a good team, they were the better team today."
Early on it was a defensive battle. Exeter got the ball first, but their running game was being stuffed by Goffstown defenders Cameron Bond, Tim Comeau and Damian Jackson. Mark Cicchini (94 yards rushing and 1 catch for 37 yards) made a 1st down run for the Blu Hawks. But then Jackson made a big time play, sacking Exeter QB Grant LaButte. Jackson was already in the backfield tackling LaButte as he began to drop back. Jackson had a big game defensively. Then Christian Melanson made a big hit, and the Blue Hawks were forced to punt.
Goffstown gets their first possession, and now it's Exeter's defense that shines. Lincoln Lawry and Chris Henry teamed up for a tough hit, and then it was Henry and Shane Quimby with a tough hit. Goffstown was forced to punt.
Exeter ball, with good field position on their own 49 yard line. Tim Comeau with a good hit, followed by a very hard hit by Bond. Then on 4th down and 4 on the Goffstown 42 yard line Chris Kelley ran for just 2 yards. Turnover on downs.
Goffstown ball on their own 40 yard line. Bourque runs for a 12 yard gain. But then Gervais dropped back, overthrew his intended receiver and Kelley made an outstanding diving grab for the interception. Exeter gives the ball right back on the very next play though, as they fumbled it on a running play and the ball was recovered by Melanson.
After the Exeter fumble, Goffstown takes over with terrific field position, on the Blue Hawk's 24 yard line. Two plays later Bourque takes the hand off and takes it 21 yards to the house. The PAT by Marquis is good and it's 7-0 Goffstown with 3:53 left in the 1st quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Goffstown recovers the onside kick. Gervais hits Marquis (4 catches for 67 yards and 1 TD) for a 14 yard completion. Quimby made a good hit for Exeter. Then on 4th and 7 on the Exeter 30 yard line Gervais' pass intended for Paul Teixiera fell incomplete for a turnover on downs.
Exeter went 3 and out on their next drive, as Melanson made a hit and then Brockton Hines finished the play with a strong tackle. Goffstown ball and they also went 3 and out. Henry rushed the passer and batted down a Gervais' pass. Exeter ball, and Jackson made another big play for the Grizzlies' defense. He burst through the line, made a big hit on LaButte, forcing a fumble and it was recovered by Goffstown's Peyton Bickford.
The Grizzlies' capitalized on the turnover, as Gervais connected with Marquis for a 38 yard TD pass. Marquis was wide open coming across the middle of the field and Gervais hit him right in stride. Now it's 14-0 Goffstown with 9:49 left in the 2nd quarter.
"We've had two good weeks of practice in a row" commented Goffstown head coach Justin Huft. "We're trying to get by as a smaller school in D-I, so we're a little banged up. I'm proud of the way the kids played."
Exeter ball, trying to answer back, now trailing by 2 scores. LaButte rolls right and hits TE Hunter Long for a 10 yard gain near the right sideline. Then it's 1st and goal on the Goffstown 5 yard line. Tim Comeau makes another good hit, bringing up 3rd and goal on the 5. Cicchini runs in the 5 yard TD. He got some good blocking up front to open up a hole. PAT is good by Matt Oppici and it's 14-7 Goffstown with 5:25 left in the 1st half.
Goffstown goes to a no huddle offense and is able to drive 75 yards in less than 4 minutes. On 3rd and 5 from their own 42 yard line Gervais connected with Teixiera for 15 yards, and then he hit Justin Wanner for a 21 yard gain. Bourque capped the drive with a 15 yard TD run, showing good speed to the edge. The PAT was no good and it's 20-7 Goffstown with 1:13 left in the 2nd quarter.
Exeter tries to answer back before halftime. Cicchini runs for a 28 yard gain into Goffstown territory. With time running out, Oppici comes in to attempt a 41 yard field goal but the kick was no good and it's 20-7 Grizzlies at the half.
Goffstown ball to start the 2nd half, with a chance to take a commanding 3 score lead. But Mitchell Herrington makes a nice tackle and the Grizzlies are forced to punt. Exeter ball, and they go to work on offense trying to methodically grind out a drive. Cicchini picks up 6 yards on the ground on a crucial 4th down and 5 play from the Goffstown 43 yard line. Jackson makes another big play on 'D' with a sack of LaButte, and then on 4th down and 5 on the Goffstown 32 Kelley picks up just 3 yards and is stopped short of the 1st down as Bond made the tackle.
Goffstown goes 3 and out so Exeter gets the ball back. But Tim Comeau and Joe Small make strong hits for no gain and on 4th and 3 the Blue Hawks are stopped short of the 1st down as Hines and Bond make the tackle. Goffstown again goes 3 and out, giving the Exeter the ball back. This time the Blue Hawks score, on a tough, determined 13 yard TD run by Kelley. The TD was set up by an 11 yard pass from LaButte to Quimby and then a 20 yard run by Quimby. Now it's 20-14 Goffstown with 3:28 left in the 4th quarter.
Exeter goes for the onside kick but it's recovered by Goffstown. Then Bourque breaks free for a 47 yard TD and it's 28-14 Grizzlis. Zach Comeau ices the win for Goffstown by intercepting LaButte in the end zone with a diving grab.
Goffstown is good now but they could be even better next year. Gervais, Bourque, the Comeau twins, Melanson, Jackson, Bond and Wanner are only juniors and Bickford is only a sophomore.