Saturday, November 22, 2014

Campbell Captures First Championship in School History

By: Ross Laorenza
It was an impressive all-around performance for the Campbell Cougars, as the defeated the Newport Tigers 20-6, Saturday afternoon. Senior Quarterback Kyle Manning was 12/22 on the day for 108 yards and a touchdown.

“It’s an amazing, on top of the world feeling,” Manning said post-game about winning the D-III title.

Manning showed great poise through his team’s victory over the Tigers. His touchdown pass to Connor Gannon on fourth and goal, all but sealed the game late in the third quarter.

However, it was the Campbell defense that opened the scoring in the game. With Newport backed up deep in their own territory, Conor Gannon intercepted an errant pass by Tom Hogan and ran is back 7-yards for the touchdown. It was Hogan’s second interception of the 1st quarter and his last pass of the day.

On the ensuing kickoff, Campbell squibbed it to one of the up backs and was able to recover the fumble after the ball bounded free from the grasp of the would-be receiver. A short six play drive starting at the 33 end with a 1-yard plunge from Kevin Moreau. Moreau, also the field goal kicker, would miss the PAT, but Campbell still led 13-0 at the end on the 1st quarter.

Newport would respond in the 2nd quarter. Sophomore Dylan Mcnamara would replace Hogan for the remainder for play. Newport feature a running attack of Noah Wade and CJ Lawrence. The two alternated carries pushing the ball inside Cougar territory. On 1st and 10 from the 43 it would be Wade bursting through the line, spinning of a would-be tackler and winning a footrace to the end zone for the 43 yard touchdown run. Wade rushed 20 times for a total of 140 yards on the afternoon. Newport went for a 2-point conversion, but the pass from Mcnamara fell just out of the reach of his receiver.

The Tiger defense forced a three and out to on Campbell’s next possession and momentum seemed to be shifting in their favor, but the ball was fumbled on a handoff from Mcnamara to Lawrence and Michael Killoran came away with the ball for the Cougars. It was the third turnover for the Tiger offense in the 1st half and couldn’t have come at a worse time.

Both defenses stiffened as the game moved through the second quarter. Campbell would have one more chance to reach the end zone with under a minute to play. Manning launched a ball deep down the near sideline for a 40 yard touchdown pass, but it was negated by an offensive pass interference call of the receiver. One last heave fell incomplete over the middle and the half ended with Campbell leading Newport 13-6.

The Cougars received to start the second half in a crucial third quarter. They picked up one first down before the drive stalled at their 35 and they were forced to punt. A three and out by the Cougar defense gave Manning the ball back. After a big sack on second down, Manning recovered nicely throwing a deep pass to Andrew Smarse and converting on 3rd and 17. Austin Baker picked up 10 on the ground to follow that play and the Cougar offense really started to get in gear. Three consecutive run by Manning set Campbell up 1st and goal at the five. Newport held for three downs forcing a 4th and goal at the one yardline. That’s when Manning connected with Connor Gannon for the 1-yard score to give the Cougars a 20-6 lead.

Newport fumbled 4 plays into the fourth quarter to give the Cougars the ball at the seven, but one the ensuing drive Stephan Nix was able to intercept a Manning pass and returned it to the 41 yard line. Kevin Moreau and CJ Lawrence pounded their way into Cougar territory as Newport tried to get back into the game late. But, a sack by Robert Arsenault forced a long fourth down, and the Tigers punted.

The offensive line for Campbell took over at that point, with 8:00 minutes remaining. “They made the difference in the game,” said head coach Greg Gush, post-game.

Campbell was able to control the clock with a solid running attack and stout line play for the rest of the fourth. An interception by Connor Quigley in the closing minutes sealed the win for the Cougars. He fumbled, but fellow captain Michael Killoran was there to fall on the ball. The cheers swelled as Manning took one final kneel down to run out the clock. Final Score, Campbell: 20, Newport: 6.

“I’m really proud of the way they played,” said Coach Greg Gush. “They worked really, really hard this year.”
“It’s going to mean a lot to these kids one day, when they comeback to be able to point up to the rafters in the gym and say I was a part of that first championship.”

Kyle Manning finished the day 12/22 for 108 and a touchdown. He also added 51 yards on the ground. Kevin Moreau finished with 17 carries for 52 yards and a touchdown. Austin Baker totaled 42 yards on 11 carries. Andrew Smarse led the Cougars with 42 receiving yards. Connor Quigley led the defense with 9 total tackles and his interception. Connor Gannon had two of the best plays of the day, with his pick-6 in the 1st and a great catch for a touchdown in the third.

Noah Wade was the bright spot for the Tigers in the loss. He gained 140 yards on the ground and scored his team’s lone touchdown.

Congratulations to the Campbell Cougars on their first championship in school history. And, congratulations to all the teams that participated in the 2014 NHIAA season.

From Cowell Stadium at the University of New Hampshire, Ross Laorenza: New Hampshire Notebook

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