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."