Bulldogs cruise to win over Titans

It didn’t take long for Dante Laurendi to see that Friday night’s season opener for the Nashua High School North football team wasn’t going to go the way he’d envisioned.

The Titans lost a fumble on their second play from scrimmage, and six plays after that, Bedford’s Nick Leahy turned a 3-yard loss on a sweep to his right into a 5-yard touchdown run to the left.

North fumbled two more times, and Bedford was able to score 13 points off of three turnovers, as the Titans fell to the Bulldogs 48-0 in a Division I non-conference game.

"We didn’t do a good job securing the football," Laurendi said. "They’re a very athletic and explosive team and they don’t need help. They can score on their own. We didn’t do a good job and gave them more opportunities."

Leahy finished with three of Bedford’s six rushing scores – all in the first half – and Connor Robert, Colby Smith and Demetri Anagnost each scored in the second half to get Derek Stank a win in his first game as Bulldogs’ head coach.

"North came out and they were hitting us," Stank said. "They’re a tough team and our guys responded. You’ve got to take advantage of what’s given to you. We were able to do that and that’s something we’ve excelled at the last two weeks. We can’t give those opportunities to other teams because a decent team is going to take advantage of turnovers."

Devin Leonard led the Titans (0-1) with 41 yards rushing and Jordan Buckmire contributed 45 yards of offense, including two catches for 31 yards. But every time North took a step forward, it then took two steps back, with a lot of help from Bedford (1-0).

North quarterback Jeff Baldassari fumbled a handoff on the second play of the game and Bedford’s Gardner Gendron recovered at the Titans’ 16. The North defense looked like it might hold, but the Bulldogs converted a fourth-and-1 from the 7 before Leahy showed his athletcism.

The Bedford junior was wrapped up in the backfield by North’s Shane LeGraw, but broke the tackle, reversed field and ran in to the end zone untouched. Cooper Anibal’s kick made it 7-0 with 9:08 left in the first.

Leahy scored again on Bedford’s second drive, this time from 3 yards out, to make it 14-0. The score was set up by a diving catch by Shahrukh Hussain on a 24-yard pass from Robert.

The Titans’ offense got going after that score, driving down to the Bedford 9 behind a 24-yard run by Buckmire and a 20-yard completion from Baldassari to Buckmire. But a miscommunication on third-and-1 pushed North back to the 12-yard line and Sclyler Boykin ran for no gain on fourth down.

"We have some speed and some athletic kids as well and we were able to get them to the outside," Laurendi said. "They made some adjustments and we had a misread on third-and-1 and didn’t help ourselves out. That drive showed that we have kids who can make plays given the opportunity, but we have to keep the ball in order to do that."

Bedford led 24-0 at halftime, and on the first play of the third quarter, Robert faked a handoff and raced around the left side for a 65-yard touchdown to make it 31-0.

A 9-yard pass from Baldassari to Trevor Lessard, plus a roughing-the-passer call against Bedford, moved North to midfield. The Titans looked to have more when Leonard ran for 11 more yards, but lost a fumble at the end of the play that Leahy recovered and brought back to the Bulldogs’ 45.

A late hit on North moved the ball to the Titans’ 40 and Cooper Anibal capped the drive with a 22-yard field goal – the junior also hit from 34 yards earlier in the game – to make it 34-0.

"The stuff we did wrong (Friday) is fixable," Laurendi said. "I thought we played hard, we played with pretty good effort. We have to get back to the basics and do a better job coaching up the fundamentals. There’s no other way to say it."