Slow second half dooms HB

Behind two rushing touchdowns from senior fullback Tyler Howard, Souhegan High School’s football team spoiled Hollis Brookline’s Homecoming celebrations with a 21-7 win over the Cavaliers Saturday afternoon.

“This was Tyler’s first game starting for us at fullback,” Sabers coach Mike Lochman said. “He missed an entire season last year so he was behind the curve a little bit and he really showed us a lot last week.

“We ended up starting him on defense and then this week he earned his way onto the field on offense and it makes us a much better team. He is a good, hard running back and it sort of compliments the other backs that we have that are a little bit more quicker types.”

In the first quarter, the Sabers (2-1) came up with a big play when junior quarterback Michael Mancini connected with senior Kees Grondstra for 25 yards on a fourth-and-24 play that brought Souhegan to the Cavaliers’ 1-yard line. Howard would run it into the end zone on the following play and senior kicker Alex Bedard added the extra point to give the Sabers a 7-0 lead with about one minute left in the opening quarter.

The Cavaliers (1-3) would respond with a big play when they forced Souhegan to an 11-yard loss on a fourth-and-1 fake punt play that would give the Cavaliers the ball on the Sabers’ 27.

The next play, senior quarterback Patch Zorn hit senior Tommy Grant for a 27-yard touchdown and senior Cole Owens would add the PAT with 6:37 left in the second quarter to send the game into halftime knotted up at 7-7.

What was the Sabers halftime message?

“We really talked to (the players) about the importance of staying focused because we made some mistakes in certain critical areas in the first half,” Lochman said. “(We also highlighted) our depth and how we felt about our depth versus theirs. We were able to strategically mix some guys in and out and keep guys fresh for the second half.”

The Cavaliers returned the opening kickoff of the second half to their own 30. On the next play, senior running back Matt Ferenczhalmy would rush 40 yards to the Sabers 30, but Souhegan’s defense stiffened and forced HB to punt.

The Sabers received the ball at their own 10 with 8:42 left in the third quarter and embarked on a nine-play drive that featured eight running plays including a 36-yard run from junior Brendan Cray.

The only pass play on the drive resulted in a touchdown which was a 25-yard connection between Mancini and junior Zachary Bossi. Bedard would add the extra point which made the score 14-7 Souhegan with 4:53 left in the third quarter.

Howard added the insurance touchdown on a fourth-and-1 play from the Cavaliers’ 7. Bedard’s extra point ended the scoring at 21-7 Souhegan with 7:23 left in the game.

“It was the type of game we knew it was (going) to be,” Lochman said. “It was a hard game. It was a physical game. We know that they have a lot of tough players – players that we respect and so we worked all week on physicality and I think fortunately in the second half it paid off. It was pretty tight in the first half, and I think we were able to pull away at the end physically which felt good.”

HB is already shaking this loss off as it prepares for next week’s road trip to Weare.

“Our goal from Day 1 is don’t overlook the next opponent,” Cavaliers coach Chris Lones said. “So our goal right now is to beat John Stark next week.