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Spartans, Sabers start 2-0

Opening a football game with five straight scoring drives will generally result in a victory and that was the case for the Milford Spartans on Friday night, earning a solid 35-13 win over Manchester West.

After starting their first drive on the West 30-yard line, the Spartans needed just two plays to get on the board, with senior Sean Hanrahan’s 21-yard run providing Milford with its first six points.

Senior Gavin Urda followed with a 27-yard run and a successful two-point conversion run four and a half minutes later, and Emmanuel Ughu added a three-yard dive into the end zone just under a minute before the conclusion of the first quarter.

Urda added a 39-yard touchdown run joined with another two-point conversion and Hanrahan earned his second touchdown from an 11-yard score with 5:22 left in the half. Liam Daly notched an extra point to give Milford a 35-0 lead they’d keep in place until the second half, when Xavier Burpee added a pair of touchdown runs from six and 44 yards out respectively.

“Sean Hanrahan was unbelievable,” said Milford head coach Keith Jones. “Even when he didn’t have the ball, some of the blocks he threw as a little guy were unbelievable. I think he had his best game as a Spartan.”

Urda led the way for Milford with five rushes for 118 yards, connecting on two of his three passes for 24 yards through the air. As a team, Milford ran for 228 total yards on the evening.

Milford (2-0) will host Pelham on Friday.

SABERS ROLL TO WIN

The Souhegan High football squad strode into its 2019 home opener on Friday night aiming to advance to 2-0 on the young Division II season. And the visiting ConVal Cougars’ crew was looking to perform the same feat.

But it became evident extremely quickly to everybody in attendance at the Amherst school that the visiting Cougars weren’t going to be any match for their hosts, who grasped a huge lead at halftime en route to a 41-0 hammering of their stunned guests which kept their early-season mark unblemished.

Coach Robin Bowkett’s Souhegan bunch scored on five of its seven offensive possessions in the opening half on the way to the 35-0 lead at the break, which had the spirited home crowd juiced. Junior standouts Austin Jain and Luke Manning drove the offense to more than 300 yards in the first two periods for the huge advantage. And the locals’ defense held the frustrated ConVal contingent to a mere 14 offensive yards – all on the ground – during those two dominant quarters.

Bowkett was one extremely happy guy in the aftermath of the Friday night win, with both his offense and defense giving him reasons to grin.

“We were better on defense,” he said in comparing his team’s two 2019 efforts. “We were better with getting lined up cleaner, knowing who was where, and playing assignment football. Our defensive guy J.T. Anderson doesn’t get enough credit.”

Souhegan claimed the first points of Friday night a little more than six minutes into the opening quarter when a five-play drive was capped off by a 1-yard dive into the end zone by quarterback Jain. The hosts then pulled off two straight successful two-point conversions, with the first being wiped out by a holding penalty. But Jain followed up that frustrating moment by hitting teammate Reese Colby with a throw in the end zone on another two-point try which stood to make it an 8-0 game with 5:51 left in the stanza.

The Sabers did in fact increase their advantage in the first 1:01 of the second period with Manning at quarterback and running like the wind out of that spot. He covered 37 of the 43 yards the hosts needed on their next possession with keepers, sprinting 11 yards to pay dirt in helping to make it a 22-0 Souhegan lead.

And the local squad’s lead bulged to 28-0 midway through the second period when Jain and his offense capped off a seven-play drive with an 11-yard scoring toss to Ryan Hauser with 6:07 remaining in the half.

At halftime, the local gridders had a total of 329 offensive yards with 250 of those coming via the passing game. Jain had all but six of those with 244 yards on 11-for-16 passing with two touchdown passes.

The visitors finally completed a pass early in the third quarter, but with the clock on running time a big Con-Val comeback was even less likely than it would normally be.

Souhegan notched the final six points of the game in the final five minutes of play on a 29-yard scoring sprint by Maverick Derushia.

“I’m very pleased with the way the guys executed. They took advantage of some opportunities, and this crowd was just electric tonight,” said coach Bowkett.

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