By: Ross Laorenza
The Nashua North Titans are moving on the the D-I playoffs with a convincing 64-41 win against inner-city rival Bishop Guertin. The Titans put up over 600 yards of offense and held BG to just 14 points in the second half.
"We knew they'd keeping battling, and we made some big stops," said Nashua North head coach Dante Laurendi.
Junior wideout Sclyler Boykin shined offensively with 3 touchdowns for the Titans. Senior Jeffrey Baldassari managed the game well from the quarterback position. He passed for 4 touchdowns and rushed for another in the win.
North opened the game with a solid 6 play, 59 yard drive. It was successful in part to a hard count by Baldassari that caused the BG line to jump offside on a fourth and one. Two plays later Jordan Buckmire was off to the races for a 38 yard touchdown. The extra-point was no good, but North held an early 6-0 lead.
The Cardinals didn't waste any time responding. Led by QB Sam Raitt and wideout Sarveen Shafian-Rad, BG raced down the field and took the lead on a Raitt to Shafian-Rad 34 yard touchdown pass. The extra-point was good. 7-6 BG. North started their next drive at the 25 yardline. A holding call on third and short negated a first down run by Boykin, but on the following play Baldassari found Tylor Chase on a well designed wheel route for a 73 yard touchdown pass. Chase was able to slip out of the backfield uncovered and with the defender reacting late, Chase was gone in the blink of an eye. Two-point conversion is good. North takes a 14-7 lead with 7:45 remaining in the 1st quarter.
Again, the Cardinals would respond and this time it was quicker than before. On second and 6 from his 45 Sam Raitt dropped back to pass but was flushed to his right. An opening appeared up the sideline and Raitt used his speed to take it the distance for a 55 yard touchdown rush. BG went for 2, but the pass from Michael Allanach sailed high over the intended receiver and out-of-bounds. BG still trails 14-13.
The Titans opened up the playbook on their ensuing possession and used an inside reverse to catch the Cardinal defense unaware. After getting the hand-off Tylor Chase dished it on an inside reverse to Jordan Buckmire. Buckmire took it 30 yards deep into BG territory. Five plays later Chase scored from 3 yards out increasing the North lead to 21-13 with 4:34 remaining in the quarter.
BG's next drive got off to a rough start. Their first-down bubble screen got completely blown up by North defensive back Mason Dane and lost them 4 yards. Raitt's second down pass attempt sailed wide over Zach Keenan's hand, incomplete. But, on third and 14 Raitt connected with Dylan Fagan for a 30 yard pick-up. Jump ahead three plays and the Cardinals are facing 4th and 3 in side the Titan 20. And offensive lineman jumped offside making it 4th and 8 from the 20, but BG still went for it. Raitt found Shafian-Rad open for a 16 yard gain after a wicked inside out move on the defensive back in coverage; 1st down BG. Two plays later on 3rd and goal Raitt took it himself up the middle for a touchdown. XP no good. BG trails 21-19.
The game saw it's first defensive stop at the start of the 2nd quarter. North was forced to punt after a sack by BG's Kaleb Kearney. It was one of only a handful of punts in an otherwise offensively dominated game. After the punt BG used 12 plays to get into field goal range. Raitt was 6 of 8 on the drive for 41 yards. With the drive stalling at the 15 BG was set up to take the lead on the field goal, but it sailed wide-left.
North took advantage of their opponent's misfortune with a 2 play 80 yard drive. Jordan Buckmire started the drive with a 45 yard rush and Sklyler Boykin finished it with a 35 yard touchdown run to the right side. XP good. 28-18 Titans. The Cardinals countered with a quick score of their own. After a delay of game backed them up inside the 20, Raitt launched a pass up the far sideline intended for Shafian-Rad. Sarveen came down with the ball and out ran his defender all the way to the end zone for an 81 yard touchdown reception. it was an unbelievable catch by the senior. The two-point conversion was successful and with 4:29 left in the half BG trailed 27-28.
Both teams went three and out before the scoring resumed. Nashua North got possession with just over a minute remaining in the half and made the most of the time. The drive belonged to Levi Gosselin. After rushing for 6 yards on first down, he caught a 29 yard pass from Baldassari. Then on first and 10 and out-leaped his defender in the end zone for a 22 yard touchdown. With the extra-point North led 35-27. BG's final drive ended with and interception by Stephen Lambert as time expired in the first half.
Bishop Guertin started with the ball in the second half. A rare offensive helmet-to-helmet call on Dylan Fagan negated a first down catch and pushed the Cards back to the 30. On third and 10 Levi Gosselin came in off his end spot and sacked Sam Raitt, forcing BG to punt. This was the true turning point in the game. After the punt, Nashua North was able to mount at 12 play scoring drive that took almost 6 minutes of the clock. Jeff Baldassari was 4 of 4 through the air on the drive for 25 yards and also rushed 4 times including a 1 yard touchdown to cap the drive. With 4:18 left the in 3rd quarter BG now had it's first two score lead of the game at 42-27.
BG hung tough and Sam Raitt orchestrated a nice 9 play drive, 80 yard drive. Raitt found Henry Boyle in the corner of the end zone for a 15 yard TD. The Cardinals decided to go for two, but the double-pass failed when lineman fell to a knee after catching the first pass, unintentionally downing himself. North: 42, BG: 33.
The score wouldn't stay that way for long...A squib kick gave North the ball at their own 47. It took just four plays for them to score again. This time is was a fabulous juke move clinic put on by Sklylar Boykin as he danced his way to a 30 yard touchdown catch and run. One second it looked like he was bottled up for a short gain and then he scurried free for the score. 50-33.
Boykin would break a few more ankles on North's next drive for a 44 yard touchdown catch and run. His lateral quickness gives him a huge advantage against some of the larger linebackers tasked with covering him. North was pulling away now with a 57-33 lead with only 9:31 remaining in the game.
BG's ensuing drive ended in disaster with an interception at the goal line. Matt Leavitt took the ball away from the BG wideout and ran it back to the 10. North used a heavy dose of Tylor Chase and Jordan Buckmire to finally ice the game. The running back tandem combined for 8 rushes and 81 yards including Buckmire's 2 yard touchdown that put the game out of reach.
The Cardinals would reach the end zone once more with a minute left in the game, but it was all for naught. Final score, Nashua North: 64, Bishop Guertin: 41. Congratulations to BG on a great season and best of luck to Nashua North as they advance to play Exeter in the D-I semi finals.
From Stellos Stadium; Ross Laorenza: New Hampshire Notebook