Granite State defense dominates
HANOVER – Drew Prescott had one of the best views of how well the New Hampshire defense was playing Saturday in the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl.
As one of the starting safeties, Prescott (Souhegan) was only a few yards behind a front seven that dominated the Vermont offense for most of the game Hanover’s Dartmouth College.
Vermont had just 2 yards of offense and one first down in the first quarter, needed a fake punt to get across midfield, scored its only touchdown after a New Hampshire turnover gave it a short field, and allowed a safety on tis first play of the second half.
The defense was credited with 15 tackles for a loss, including three sacks. Prescott had just one tackle from his spot in the secondary, but the lack of action meant things must have been going well for New Hampshire.
“If you’re going to have a problem, that’s a great one, that they’re not getting to your safeties,” he said. “It’s the perfect problem, so I can’t complain.
“We flew around so fast on defense. We had so many great guys that to get to go out there and play with them was unlike anything I’ve gotten the opportunity to do before. The coaches knew they were going (run the ball) with their offense. We wanted to put a bunch of guys out there who we knew were athletic. We just let people go out there and play and make plays out there. We just let the talent take over.”
New Hampshire coach Dave Jackson was impressed with how the defense came together during the week of practice.
“It was frightening,” Jackson said. “We started calling them 11 savages on the swarm. They were flying to the ball.”
The unit didn’t force a lot of turnovers – an interception by Donald Pellerin (Stevens) came on a fourth-down hail mary in the third quarter – but the front seven gave Vermont’s James Shufelt III little time to work.
“Our defense was fueled up and ready to go,” Kyle Riesert (Plymouth) said. “We were out there to keep them to as few yards as we could and that first quarter we did that.”
After New Hampshire’s Trevor Knight threw for three touchdowns on New Hampshire’s first three possessions, running back Jason Martinez (Salem) came just a few steps from giving the Granite State a four score lead after 12 minutes.
Martinez ended the quarter with a 60-yard run, but was caught by Vermont’s Greg Shinn at the 2-yard line of the Green Mountain State. Knight threw an incompletion on the next play, and Martinez got in the end zone for the first of his two touchdowns.
“I was really mad because I thought I was going to get it,” Martinez said. “The holes were there and they were wide open. Once I got by, everything was wide open. I give it up to the line and Trevor Knight for opening up all those plays.”
Time to report
The summer was already over for a handful of New Hampshire players, as six players had to report for training camp at the University of New Hampshire Sunday morning. Those six are Knight, Martinez, Riesert, Shawn Cavallaro (Hanover) Hayden Middleton (St. Thomas) and Jared Kuehl (Plymouth).
“East-West was nice getting back into football, but we had a little time off, and after the first full pad practice (last Monday), I felt football sore again,” Riesert said. “It’s nice to be able to be back in football shape right before we go to camp, but then again, it is kind of tough spending that last week away from home.”
Knight was happy to play in both the Shrine game and the CHaD East-West NH All-Star Football Game because he might not play for at least a year at UNH. With the Wildcats’ returning their top two quarterbacks, Knight will likely redshirt the 2014 season.
“I’m ready to play and it was great to get out here and get a warmup game,” Knight said. “This is going to be the last two games, this and the East-West, are going to be the last two games I play for a while. It’s good to just enjoy it all.”