Bedford wins D-I title; Plymouth scores late to edge Bow in D-II final
DURHAM – Bedford’s defense was nearly flawless Saturday night.
The effort and execution resulted in a perfect ending for the Bulldogs.
Bedford smothered Exeter, scored on the opening possession of the second half and made it stand up for a 7-0 victory in the Division I championship on Saturday at the University of New Hampshire’s Wildcat Stadium for the program’s first title.
Connor Robert hooked up with Noah Chaberek for a 23-yard touchdown pass on a third-and-9 with 9:11 remaining in the third quarter. That was all the offense Bedford (12-0) needed, holding the Blue Hawks to fewer than 3 yards per carry at 145 rushing yards on 52 attempts.
Nick Leahy – who tore his ACL in March but recovered in time to play the entire season – paced the Bulldogs with 128 rushing yards on 19 carries.
"We win because of our defense. Our defense is just unreal. They pulled out games for us all year long and they did again today," Leahy said. "It’s amazing. A lot of these seniors, we’ve been working three, four days a week in the offseason for four years. Plus with my knee, having to work extra hours, all of that coming to now and winning – it’s the best feeling in the world."
Kyle Lagerquist ended Exeter’s final drive with an interception of Kyle Ball with the Blue Hawks at their own 44-yard line. Shahrukh Hussain also had a pick for the Bulldogs, which received a stellar effort from its defensive front led by Jake Gregson in the middle.
"Everybody just had a job they had to do. Our D-line had to execute today. We were practicing all week and it came together on the field," Gregson said. "Ever since youth football, this senior class has always said we’re going to be the ones to win that; we’re going to be the ones to get that first state championship. To follow through with that after so many years, it’s just amazing."
Exeter didn’t make it easy with a strong defensive showing in its own right.
Robert completed just 8 of 21 passes for 66 yards with the touchdown and two interceptions. Cam Flanagan picked off Robert to diffuse a drive at the end of the first half and Cody Morissette’s interception gave the Blue Hawks (11-2) life with a little over five minutes remaining.
However, Lagerquist’s pick gave Bedford the ball back with 2:34 to go and Leahy moved the chains twice to kill the clock.
"I was thrilled they were able to finish the way they started," Bedford coach Derek Stank said. "(The title) has been something that’s a long time coming. I’ve been standing in that gymnasium teaching as a wellness teacher for the last 10 years and I see state championship banners all over the place, but not one of them says the word football on it.
"So, we finally get to hang that thing. I’m very proud to be a part of this program."
Plymouth 27, Bow 24
Plymouth has leaned on its running attack all season, but with a title on the line, the Bobcats were forced to turn to the air.
Brandon Roy hooked up with Garrett Macomber for a 15-yard touchdown with 21 seconds to play and Plymouth edged Bow 27-24 for its first Division II championship since 2013 on Saturday.
It was the final of three lead changes in the final quarter, as the Falcons (9-3) had jumped out in front on a 3-yard touchdown run from Jack Corriveau with 4:02 to go. However, Plymouth (10-2) marched 75 yards in 10 plays to claim the championship.
The Bobacats were at the Bow 30-yard line with 48 seconds left, but gained a critical 15 yards on a personal foul facemask to cut the distance to the game-winning score in half.
"We gave ourselves a chance today to win the game. We came through to win," Plymouth coach Chris Sanborn said. "We wanted to keep running, but we kind of messed up a play and the kids ran it backwards so we dialed up that pass that we work on all the time."
It was only the second pass attempt for the Bobcats all game, and it worked to perfection as Macomber leaked through the backside of the secondary for a wide-open look.
"It was kind of crazy going all the way down there," Macomber said. "There was not a time in the huddle that we were like, ‘we’re not making it.’ We just kept going the whole time."
Macomber, who was shaken up early and was sidelined for a portion of the first half, finished with 171 rushing yards on 30 carries.
Plymouth struck first with a 10-yard touchdown scamper from Macomber, but Bow responded with 17 straight points to claim a 17-6 late in the second quarter.
However, with Macomber stuck on the sideline, backup Connor Magowan raced 56 yards on a fourth-and-inches with 58 seconds left in the half the trim the deficit to 17-14 at halftime.
"Connor Magowan came through today," Sanborn said of the junior who rushed for 95 yards on 11 carries. "You never know when your moment is going to come."
Corriveau led Bow with 100 receiving yards and two scores on five catches, along with 33 yards and a score on eight carries. Quarterback Matthew Harkins completed 17 of 27 passes for 244 yards with two scores and an interception.
Division III: Stevens 46, I-L/Moultonborough 20
The drought is over for Stevens High School.
The Cardinals seized control in the third quarter and beat Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough 46-20 in the Division III championship. It’s the first football title for Stevens since 1968 and the first team championship in any sport since 1989.
"I just love these guys to death. They’ve done every single thing I’ve asked of them and answered every call. We lost two games on the year and beat both of them in the playoffs. They deserve this," Stevens coach Paul Silva said. "People have been waiting a long, long time and I’m so happy for this group of kids to be the one that gives it to them."
Sophomore quarterback Henri Bourque led the way for the Cardinals, completing 13 of 19 passes for 223 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He also gained 92 rushing yards on nine carries.
Richard Bell was the Stevens workhorse with 129 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries. Parker Smith served as a lethal weapon through the air with nine catches for 163 yards and a score, while Zach O’Brien hauled in four passes for 60 yards and a touchdown and added 50 rushing yards and another score on 12 carries.
Ryan Kelly was 16 of 26 passing for 225 yards with a touchdown for the Lakers, who lost in the championship game for the second straight year. Andrew Brothers was Inter-Lakes/Moultonborugh’s top rusher with 50 yards and two scores on 14 attempts.
The Lakers scored first and held a 14-8 lead late in the first half, but Stevens responded with a three-play, 58-yard drive capped by a 31-yard score from Bourque to O’Brien. The Cardinals converted the second of their five two-point conversions to take a 16-14 edge into halftime.
Smith’s 61-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter was followed by a 2-yard TD plunge from Bell to put the Cardinals firmly in control, up 32-14 after three quarters, and Stevens cruised from there.
The Cardinals (9-2) were dismantled 57-12 by the Lakers (9-3) earlier this year, but Stevens turned the tables Saturday.
"I said if anyone wants to look at that game and think it’s going to go that way, that’s fine with me," Silva said. "I told these guys in Week 2 that we’re the best team in the division in my estimation, and they showed it today."