Souhegan preps for playoffs vs. Pelham
AMHERST – The Souhegan football team had one last chance to get ready for its playoff run. The Sabers responded with their highest-scoring victory of the regular season – scoring eight touchdowns, including three from Cameron Kinney, en route to a convincing 52- 14 victory over the winless Pelham Pythons on Oct. 30.
Souhegan finishes the regular season with a 7-1 record, and they’ll face a familiar foe in the Division II quarterfinals with Milford (7-1) coming to town for a 2:30 p.m. Saturday kickoff.
Friday night, the Sabers started the game certainly looking like a team that was riding a three-game winning streak. On only the fourth play of the contest, Jonathan Nogueira ran the ball 36 yards for the first score of the game. However, the Pythons (0-8) quickly responded with a 52-yard touchdown pass from Trevor Gagnon to Ryan Demers, and a two-point conversion gave Pelham a rare one-point lead.
The Sabers weren’t going to be outdone, though, as Souhegan quarterback Michael Mancini connected with Kinney on a 12-yard touchdown to give his team a six-point lead on the next possession. The Sabers scored again on their next two drives (a 1-yard rush from Kinney and a five-yard run from Brendan Cray) to take a 20-point lead into halftime.
"I think we were lucky that Pelham battled," said Souhegan coach Mike Lochman. "We really wanted to get sharpened, and not just walk into the playoffs. We were fortunate enough to be able to battle, but in the end, we obviously wanted to pull away, and that’s what we did."
It was more of the same to start the second half, as Nogueria ran the ball 26-yards for his second score of the game. A Brendan O’Grady rushing touchdown gave Pelham some hope with two minutes remaining in the second, but Kinney scored on a 69-yard run on Souhegan’s next play. The senior finished the contest with 195 yards rushing and three rushing touchdowns, and he also added a pair of catches for 24 yards. Nogueira also compiled 97 yards on the ground, and Cray chipped in 49 yards.
"That’s really important to us," Lochman said. "A lot of other teams have one guy that they feature. We want to make sure that we don’t become predictable. We have a lot of talent, and it’s our responsibility to spread the ball around and let our guys be successful. I think that’s going to help us down the road, because you can’t take one guy away from us."
The Sabers truly put it out of reach in the beginning of the fourth. Zachary Bossi picked off a Pelham pass and ran 50 yards for the touchdown, and the senior snagged another turnover on Pelham’s subsequent possession.
Souhegan would finish that drive with a one-yard touchdown run from Palmer Belowski.
Mancini finished the contest 4 for 7 passing for 28 yards and a touchdown. On the other side, Gagnon finished 5 for 14 for 157 yards and two interceptions.
No one particularly stood out among Pelham skills players, but the offensive still managed to compile 147 yards rushing.
Despite his opponent’s moderate success on offense, Lochman was grateful that his team got a solid opponent in their regular season finale.
"We saw a pretty physical run game, and that’s what probably what we’re going to see first round," he said. "It was a good test of what we have up front. I think it’s going to come down to how physical we play, especially in the first round.
"Offensively, it’s our run game that drives us. Defensively we have to play more physical than we did today. We know we’re going to play some teams that are bruisers."