The Winnacunnet Warriors moved a step closer to a playoff berth, taking care of business with a 26-13 win over a feisty Londonderry squad on Friday night in Hampton. Winnacunnet improves to 5-3, with one game left to play in the regular season.
Warriors' 6-foot-4 sophomore QB Patrick MacDougal threw 2 TD passes (to WR Liam Viviano and TE Bailey Nasser), while Mike Lewis (125 yards) and Brian Auffant (49 yards) had 1 rushing touchdown apiece. On defense Winnacunnet was led by Lewis, DL Cody Pierce, DL Patrick Witt and LB Phillip Antonio. Viviano caught 2 passes for 60 yards and 1 TD, plus he made some tough tackles on 'D' and also blocked a punt.
Late in the 3rd quarter Viviano made a terrific punt return to give his team excellent field position on the Lancers' 15 yard line. Then Auffant raced into the end zone from 5 yards out, thanks to some great blocking on the left side of the line. It was now a 3 score game, 26-7 Winnacunnet with 3:21 left in the 3rd quarter.
Just when it looked like Winnacunnet was pulling away and had this game wrapped up, Londonderry answered right back with a score of their own to stay alive. Lancers 6-foot-3 junior QB Jake Stevens (14/27 for 239 yards and 1 rushing TD) connected with Peter Navarro for an 18 yard pickup. Then Stevens aired it out again, this time finding Nick Donnelly for a 52 yard gain, all the way to the 1 yard line. Senior RB David Wiedenfield capped the drive with a 1 yard TD run. The 2 point conversion was no good, thanks to Viviano who picked off a pass thrown by Stevens. It took less than 2 minutes for Londonderry to drive 75 yards and score the TD, cutting the Warriors lead to 26-13 with 1:41 left in the 3rd quarter. There was plenty of time left - the Lancers still had a shot!
Unfortunately for Londonderry, the Winnacunnet defense stepped up the rest of the way, preventing the Lancers from getting back on the board. On the Warriors' ensuing drive, Lewis broke loose for a 29 yard run. But then Eric Doran sacked QB MacDougall, and Winnacunnet was quickly forced to punt.
This next drive for Londonderry was a huge one. We were still early in the 4th quarter - plenty of time for the Lancers to get 2 scores. Wiedenfeld raced for a 13 yard run. Stevens completed a 15 yard pass to TE Cam Reddy. Londonderry was driving deep into Winnacunnet territory, and was threatening to make it a 1 score game, which would have put a ton of pressure on the Warriors since they know they need a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Instead Dan Fields made a nice tackle in the back field, Matthew Havey sacked the QB Stevens and the lancers turned the ball over on downs. A huge sequence right there in determining the outcome of the game.
The Warriors get the ball back, trying to run the clock out. Reddy made a nice hit from his DE position. But then Lewis showed why he's one of the best players in the state, as he took the hand-off, was immediately hit at the line of scrimmage but broke the tackle and picked up another 10 yards for the 1st down. A great play by a beast of a player. Winnacunnet keeps moving down the field, and gets all the way down to the LHS 9 yard line before turning it over on downs.
Londonderry regains possession, but they're still down by 2 touchdowns and there's only 1:56 left in the 4th quarter. Warriors DL Gabe Paster sacks Stevens. The lancers aren't ready to give up yet though, as Stevens completes a 15 yard pass to Navarro. Then Stevens throws down field to an open Navarro for a possible big gain. But the pass was dropped on 4th down, resulting in a turnover on downs. MacDougall comes back out onto the field, takes a knee and Winnacunnet hangs on for the 26-13 victory.
Defense dominated early on in the contest. Winnacunnet got the ball to start the game, and got very good field position after Londonderry went for an onside kick on the game's opening kickoff but it was recovered by Liam McNamara for the Warriors. Winnacunnet was unable to take advantage of the favorable field position though, as Donnelly made a nice hit on 'D' to force a punt.
On Londonderry's first drive, Lewis deflected a pass and Pierce made a sack to force a punt. On Winnacunnet's ensuing possession is when the scoring got started. MacDougall made a good read, connected with a wide open Viviano coming across the middle of the field. Viviano took it from there's sprinting to the end zone for a 54 yard TD pass play. 7-0 Warriors, 9:09 left in the 1st quarter.
Jimmy Zimolka made a nice run on the ensuing kick return for the Lancers - a 46 yard kick return. Pierce made a nice tackle. But then Wiedenfeld took a direct snap on 4th and 1, bounced off a tackle and picked up 6 yards for the 1st down. Stevens then throws it to the end zone, the pass falls incomplete, but Winnacunnet is whistled for pass interference. Stevens then runs in a 9 yard TD on a keeper. We're all tied up 7-7, with 4:52 left in the 1st quarter.
Winnacunnet ball, and MacDougall hits Nasser for an 11 yard gain. Then he finds Viviano for a 6 yard completion on 4th and 2 from the LHS 39 yard line. But then MacDougall fumbles the ball as he's pitching it over to Auffant and Londonderry recovers. Instead of cashing in on the Winnacunnet turnover, the Lancers give the football right back. Wiedenfeld makes a catch on a short pass play, gets hit by Lewis, fumbles the ball and it's recovered by Viviano.
This time the Warriors do cash in on a turnover. MacDougall connects with Nasser for a 27 yard gain. Then a costly late hit personal foul penalty on the Lancers leads to a 22 yard TD run by Lewis. the PAT was no good, and it's 13-7 Winnacunnet with 8:40 left in the 2nd quarter.
Londonderry tries to answer back, as Stevens finds Wiedenfeld for a 17 yard pass play. But then Witt made a nice hit and Antonio sacked Stevens for a loss of 11 yards to force a punt.
Winnacunnet extends their lead to 2 scores for the 1st time, as MacDougall finds Nasser in the end zone for a 12 yard TD pass. Gary Richard made a nice hit on 'D' earlier on the drive. The 2 point conversion was no good, and it's 19-7 Warriors.
Londonderry is forced to punt from deep in their own end on their ensuing possession, but the kick is blocked by Viviano. The warriors have great field position, but they fumble it and it's recovered by Jake Mullin for the Lancers. Wiedenfeld makes a 15 yard catch, but then Witt bats down a pass at the end of the half and Winnacunnet heads to the locker room on top 19-7.
Londonderry squandered a good chance to score on the 1st possession of the 2nd half. Antonio brought some nice pressure to the QB. But then on 3rd and 7 from their own 15 yard line Stevens connects with Wiedenfeld for a 56 yard completion down the left sideline. Stevens then connects with Jimmy Nee for a 12 yard gain. But then on 4th and 3 from the WHS 6 yard line Wiedenfeld is stopped for no gain, resulting in a turnover on downs.