NH makes it 14 wins in a row
HANOVER – There have been times during New Hampshire’s decade-plus win streak at the Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl where the game has been out of reach for Vermont at halftime.
In the 61st edition of the game Saturday, it was all but over at the start of the second quarter.
Trevor Knight (Nashua South) threw three touchdown passes in the first quarter as New Hampshire led 26-0 after the first play of the second frame on its way to a 42-6 win at Dartmouth College in Hanover.
Knight finished the game with 209 yards passing on 12 of 20 attempts with three scores and New Hampshire extended its record winning streak to 14 games.
Jason Martinez (Salem) added 111 yards rushing and two touchdowns on eight carries and Alec Boucher (Winnacunnet) caught four passes for 92 yards as New Hampshire outgained Vermont 470-131.
“It was warmer than we expected (Saturday) and the kids were fired up,” New Hampshire coach Dave Jackson said. “They said no way can we wait 20 seconds to run a play, let’s run one every 10 and let’s let them melt. It’s hard to emulate that tempo in practice.”
Defensively, New Hampshire was led by Eric Waddington (Dover) and Kyle Riesert (Plymouth), who recorded nine tackles each. Riesert was also credited with one-half of New Hampshire’s three sacks, as the defense also had 15 tackles for a loss.
Knight wasted little time getting New Hampshire on the board. After the defense forced a three-and-out, New Hampshire took over at the Vermont 43-yard line. Knight hit Shawn Cavallaro for 11 yards on first down, and after an offensive offsides call, the South quarterback found Nick Valias wide open down the left sideline for a 37-yard touchdown.
“(Vailas) did that to everybody we put on him all week (in practice),” Jackson said. “And so did Boucher. Cole Martin was open all week. When you have athletic kids like that, it’s pretty tough to cover everything.”
The drive took just 33 seconds, as New Hampshire’s first four possessions took a total of 2:15. Knight also had first-quarter touchdown passes of 28 yards to Martin (Merrimack Valley) and 1 yard to Vailas to make it 20-0 with 1:34 left in the opening quarter.
“I was hoping for it, but some of the plays were blown coverage and I didn’t expect them to be that open,” Knight said. “I thought we’d have longer drives, but when we jumped out on that second play, that set the tone for the game.”
New Hampshire looked like it might get four scores in the opening 12 minutes, but Jason Martinez (Salem) was pushed out of bounds on a 60-yard run at the Vermont 2-yard line as time expired. After an incompletion, Martinez scored from the 2 to make it 26-0.
Frustration on the Vermont side boiled onto the field on its next possession when quarterback James Shufelt III got into a shoving match with New Hampshire’s Collin Richardson.
Both were assessed unsportsmanlike penalties and on the next play, Tommy Fitzgerald, Jr., kept the ball on a fake punt and run for 24 yards, putting Vermont across midfield for the first time.
The drive stalled at the New Hampshire 33, but a fumble by Knight – one of three turnovers by the quarterback – set Vermont up at the 22 of the Granite State. Two plays later, Shufelt hit Joe Coture for a 24-yard touchdown, Vermont’s first score of any kind since the second half of the 2012 game.
Knight fumbled on New Hampshire’s next play, setting Vermont up near midfield, but this time, the Granite State defense held and forced a punt.
Starting at his own 10-yard line, Knight marched New Hampshire down the field in nine plays, throwing for 69 yards and rushing for another eight.
Martinez scored his second touchdown from a yard out to make it 33-6 with 1:26 to go before halftime.
Vermont’s Sean Shepardson intercepted a Knight pass at his own 2-yard line on the first drive of the second half, but on the next play, Jared Kuehl (Plymouth) tackled Tom Baumann in the end zone for a safety and a 35-6 lead for New Hampshire.
Marc Gaudet (Concord) closed out the scoring in the fourth quarter, scoring on a 5-yard run with 4:36 left to play to account for the final total.