Souhegan, Milford football open with wins

AMHERST – It seemed as if the Souhegan High School Sabers were heading for a disappointing opening-day loss at home. With 30 seconds remaining, Monadnock was on the doorstep, just 1 yard away from scoring.

If the Huskies failed to punch it into the end zone, they’d presumably end the contest with an attempt at a game-winning kick. They never got that chance.

The Sabers’ defense stiffened. Monadnock tried a quarterback keeper that linebacker Nick Truchon denied, forcing a fumble at the goal line that was recovered by Johnathan Nogueria to secure the dramatic one-point victory.

"It was a little bit hectic," Souhegan coach Mike Lochman said of the Sabers’ 13-12 win. "I’m just happy I’m still alive. I thought I was going to have a heart attack the way the game played out."

All of the scoring came in the second half, including Souhegan’s special teams coming through late – scoring the eventual game-winning touchdown on a 65-yard kickoff return by Zachary Bossi right up the middle of the field with 4 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

Souhegan scored the games first points midway through the third quarter, putting together a 97-yard drive that culminated in quarterback Mike Mancini finding fullback Tucker Aiello out of the backfield on a 9-yard pass into the end zone. Bossi booted the PAT through the uprights for a 7-0 lead.

Monadnock found its way into the end zone with time winding down in the third quarter, closing the gap to one point and then taking a 12-7 lead on a touchdown pass of its own with 4 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The Huskies followed up with a failed 2-point attempt.

An excessive celebration penalty following their go-ahead touchdown proved costly on the ensuing kickoff that Bossi returned.

Souhegan tried to run Nogueria in for the 2-point conversion, but he was denied at the half-yard line. It was a favor that Truchon and Nogueria returned minutes later on the other end of the field.

"Our defense played really well," Lochman said. "The offense played well too, but we turned the ball over a few too many times. That hurt us in the first half."

Milford 27, John Stark 20

MILFORD – It was’t pretty, but the final result was all that mattered to Milford coach Keith Jones.

"It’s better than a loss," Jones said of the Spartans’ 27-20 season-opening win over John Stark on Friday night. "A sloppy, sloppy football game. I can’t even count the number of penalties in my head, it was probably in double digits. Just a sloppy game."

Trailing 14-7 early, the Spartans managed to even the score by halftime. They scored on their next two possessions to go up 27-14 in the fourth quarter.

Bryce Walker led Milford’s ground attack, rushing for 130 rushing and two touchdowns, while Mark Madigan chipped in with 100-plus yards of his own and one score. Max Urda delivered the other touchdown by connecting on a 35-yard pass to Owen Hutchinson.

Milford (1-0) drove deep into Generals’ territory trying to ice the game late, but missed on a field goal attempt that gave Stark (0-1) the ball back and allowed the Generals to make one last drive the other way.

Milford’s defense stiffened and the Spartans held for the win.