Banuskevich, Gillis connect for a memorable score

When the rosters were first announced for the third CHaD East-West New Hampshire High School All-Star Football Game, neither Devin Gillis nor Mitch Banuskevich made the list.

But both were on the field Saturday at Saint Anselm College as replacement players, and the two hooked up for a fourth-quarter touchdown that put the game away to give the West its third win.

Gillis, of Merrimack High School, stepped in at quarterback for University of New Hampshire-bound Trevor Knight, of Nashua South, on a drive near the end of the third quarter, and led the West from its own 20-yard line to the East 8.

On first-and-goal after an East timeout, Gillis rolled to his right and found Banuskevich, of Milford, wide open, but the pass was incomplete.

“I was mad,” Banuskevich said. “I knew I got one hand on it and I almost had it, but I dropped it at the end. I knew they’d go back to me … or at least I hoped so.”

Gillis saw the play differently, though.

“That wasn’t his fault,” he said. “I threw it behind him. I don’t know, I just got excited, and I was yelled at to run the ball in there because I had so much space. That’s fine – we made it count the next play.”

West offensive coordinator Jim Schubert called for a similar play, to roll Gillis out and hopefully have Banuskevich open in the flat again.

“It’s all a part of the offense and the way that it’s built,” Schubert said. “Because he dropped the first one doesn’t mean anything. What happens, if we cleared out on one side and slid him, there was no one there. We just wanted to get the ball to him. It’s like a long handoff to a running back, and it worked out pretty well.”

On second down, Gillis threw to Banuskevich again, and this time the Milford graduate caught the pass before taking a hit.

“It’s surreal,” Banuskevich said. “It always hits me afterward, like, Did that really just happen? They hit me after I caught it, so there was anger, but then celebration. And it was the last touchdown of the game.”

It put the West up 24-7 with 14:27 left, and with the way the defense was playing, it was more than enough to solidify the victory.