By: Ross Laorenza
The Plymouth Bobcats are headed to Durham for the Division II championship game after a 20-18 upset over undefeated Windham. Garret Macomber blocked the Jaguars go-ahead field goal attempt as time expired. The junior lead the way for Plymouth offensively as well, racking up 124 rushing yards and the game's first touchdown.
"Well, you know we thought they wanted to play smash-mouth football with us, and we always say anybody who wants to play smash-mouth (against) Plymouth better buckle their chin strap," said Plymouth head coach Chris Sanborn. On Macomber he added. "That is the best player in division two. He's one of the top players in the entire state of New Hampshire, and I'll tell you what, I think he's just underestimated as a junior, but every play on defense he was in there shutting run..."
With both teams relying heavily on the running attack the clock moved at a fast pace. Each team had possession once in the first quarter when Macomber broke a 57 yard touchdown between left guard and left tackle with 4:08 remaining. Windham would respond with a lengthy 12-play drive that ended with Cody Potter connecting with Micah Sundman for a 25 yard touchdown reception. The extra-point was blocked, so the Jaguars trailed 7-6.
Plymouth started their next possession on the 34. Using Macomber, Anthony Velez and Colby Moore the Bobcats were able to work their way down field in chunks. Six yards by Moore, 6 by Macomber, 6 by Velez on a 4th and 1 just over midfield. With the drive looking as if it was about to stall again Brandon Roy found Moore for an 8 yard pick-up on 4th and 6. Windham's defense would hold deep inside the redzone, but a Daniel Carey field goal gave Plymouth a 10-6 lead. The game would head to the half with the Bobcats still leading by 4 points.
The Jaguars opened play in the second half with a 10 play drive into Plymouth territory, but on 4-10 from the 36 Potter's pass was a yard too long for the outstretched hands of Parker Belsky. Plymouth took advantage of the turnover-on-downs. Velez opened the ensuing drive with a 14 yard run to put Plymouth in Windham territory. Macomber and Moore combined for 9 yards on first and second down, then Roy ran a sneak on 3rd and 1 to convert. After losing a yard on 1st and 10, Roy hit a back-side screen pass to Jacob Lamb for a 29 yard gain.
On first and goal from the 8 Macomber ran it up the middle for three yards. He replicated that production on 2nd and goal setting up 3rd and goal from the 2. Brandon Roy ran the QB sneak again and bowled into the end zone for the touchdown. With the extra point Plymouth now lead 17-6, with 3:48 remaining in the 3rd quarter.
Windham would rally and scored on the first play of the 4th quarter. Outstanding senior Victor Pizzotti scored from 2 yards out to put Windham within 5 points. Having missed an extra-point earlier in the game, the Jags elected to go for 2, but Potter's pass was intercepted by Colby Moore to end the attempt. With 11:57 remaining Plymouth: 17, Windham: 12.
The Jaguars went for a surprise onside kick, but Plymouth was ready for it and now had excellent field position at the 50. Roy connected with Jordan Docen for a 23 yard gain on 2nd and 9 to get the Bobcats in field goal range. Four plays later Daniel Carey sent his second kick of the day through the uprights for a 20-12 Plymouth lead.
Windham still had a chance to remain undefeated, but they would need some huge plays down the stretch. After the Plymouth field-goal their drive stalled and elected to punt the ball away. The Jaguars defense came up big and forced a fumble deep in Plymouth territory. Windham recovered for 1st and 10 at the 15. Six straight run plays ended with Pizzotti in the endzone for his second touchdown of the game with 1:52 to play. The home crowd erupted in cheers. Now, down 2 Windham would try to tie it up. Potter rolled right and was pressured, his pass would be short of the goal line and was broken up. Conversion, no good. Plymouth: 20, Windham: 18.
Instead of a standard onside kick, Windham attempted to pop the ball high in the air away from the coverage team, but Plymouth recovered at the 29. On first down Roy was able to pick-up 4 after a miscommunication on the hand-off. Time out Windham. And offside penalty backed Plymouth up on 2nd down. Garret Macomber steamed ahead for 3 yards. Time out Windham (their last). Macomber picked up 7 on third down, leaving Plymouth with a decision: Do they punt it away with less than a minute to play or go for it on fourth and short? They chose the latter and Windham's defense held. Roy's sneak got stopped at the line! Windham ball! 52.7 to go.
Potter took a shot on first down, but his receiver was covered and the ball fell incomplete. On second down he rolled right and scrambled out of bounds for a short gain. On 3rd and 9 Potter dropped back under pressure and threw the ball to the near side....INTERCEPTION by Garret Macomber. Ball game over. BUT WAIT......A roughing the passer penalty negates the INT. Windham gets a first down on the 15 yard penalty. The game still hangs in the balance with just over 30 seconds remaining. No gain on first down. On second Jake Aleska gets the ball on a misdirection hand-off and surges forward for a short gain but can't get out of bounds. Windham runs their kicking unit onto the field and gets off the attempt with 2 second to go.............BLOCK! The kick is blocked!!! Garret Macomber saves the day for the Plymouth Bobcatds. Upset: complete. Plymouth advances to UNH for a shot at the D-II title. WHAT. A. GAME.
Final score; Plymouth: 20, Windham: 18
"We talked all week about being able to block that field goal," said Plymouth coach Sanborn. "We went over it and over it and thought we could block it."
"You never want to finish up short of your goal, and our goal was certainly to be back at UNH for a third time" said Windham head coach Bill Raycraft. "But seeing the look in the eyes of the juniors, I know they're going to put the work in to get us back there."
From Windham; Ross Laorenza: New Hampshire Notebook