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West works OT for CHaD win

MANCHESTER – A week ago, Team West coach Kip Jackson, talking about his own Reese Lopez from Merrimack and Bishop Brady’s Chris Messmore, said, “At least I know we have good kickers.”

Lopez was too valuable on the offensive line, so Jackson had Bishop Brady alum Chris Messmore do the duties and Messmore delivered the game winning kick in double overtime in the West’s 13-10 win over Team East in the annual CHaD East-West All-Star Football Game Friday night before 1,250 at Saint Anselm’s Grappone Stadium.

It wasn’t easy, though. Messmore had a chance to win in it in the first OT but had it blocked by Team East’s Aidan Goss of

Windham.

The second OT began right after with the West starting from the 10, and after failing on three plays to get it in the end zone, Jackson again turned to Messmore, and although his 22-yard kick was tipped, it snuck through for a 13-10 lead.

The East, however, had one last shot. But after a five-yard false start penalty and three Drew Heenan incompletions, they had their equally impressive kicker, Ethan Moss, try a 32 yarder, and it went wide left. Ball game.

“We had to clean up our protection a little bit,” Jackson said of Messmore’s first attempt. “The Football Gods allowed it to go through, and then the miss. That’s the way it works.

“He’s a really good kicker, a special athlete. I was going to put him in to punt because he’s a phenomenal punter, but I didn’t want to put him in that position. First time in front of that many people, right?”

Messmore, who plans to try to earn a spot at the University of Virginia as a walk-on, said he made some changes for his second kick.

“First kick I went with a three-step approach, and they got through the line pretty quickly, I kept my head down,” Messmore said.

“The second kick I just trusted my line, got their a little quicker, stayed tall, and it went through.”

Locals had a huge impact on the game. Nashua North’s Toby Brown, Jr., who played both ways but had five tackles (three solo, two assists) and a sack on defense, was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. Bishop Guertin’s Matt Santosuosso rushed for 114 yards on 22 carries and completed 8 of 19 passes for 84 yards at quarterback. Merrimack’s Reimello Hyde rushed for 78 yards on 16 carries and scored the West’s only TD. Nashua North’s Jack Peters made not one but two touchdown saving tackles after East receptions by Londonderry’s Andrew Kullman (seven catches, 153 yards, a TD).

Guertin’s Jakob Baker made a huge defensive tackle for a loss in the first overtime on the East’s final play of that series, and it looked like it would set up a win, but it took a little longer.

“They were blocking me hard the whole game,” said Baker, who ended his football career last night as he has no plans to play at Tampa University. “I really wanted one stat. One state to end my season. It was the best feeling ending it like this.”

All of that helped West overcome a huge game by Team East’s/Londonderry’s Drew Heenan, as the QB rushed for 81 yards and threw for 173 and a score.

The kicking game played a big role, even in the first half, when the two teams traded field goals for a 3-3 halftime tie. Moss hit a 22-yarder three seconds into the second quarter while Messmore booted a 35-yarder with 55 seconds left in the half.

The West took a 10-3 lead when Hyde’s 2-yard TD with 10:34 left capped a nine play, 57-yard drive that was led by the offensive line’s second unit.

They had a chance to score earlier, but a 16-play drive to start the second half died at the East 14 after Hyde was stopped on a fourth-and-3 run for a yard loss. Jackson opted not to try a field goal and was second guessing himself a bit the rest of the way until Messmore came through.

“I was (thinking of it), but after that, we just had to move on,” Jackson said.

Down 10-3, the East, which fumbled away a scoring chance on the game’s first possession, wasn’t going to fold. They began a drive at midfield with 6:13 left and on a fourth-and-10 from the West 20, Heenan, after a long scramble, found Kullman in the left corner of the end zone with 3:44 left. Originally, it looked like East coach Jimmy Lauzon would try for a 2-point conversion, but after time out changed his mind and Moss booted it through. After neither team could do anything in the last three-plus minutes, it was hello, overtime.

“The Heenan kid and (Kullman), they made a heckuva play at the end of the fourth quarter,” Jackson said. “It was just an incredible pass, under pressure, rolling to his left, and the kid makes an over-the-shoulder catch in the corner of the end zone, an incredible play.”

In what amounted to an incredible game. The East, which won the overtime toss and elected to go first, had the ball at the 1-yard-line in the first OT but that’s when Baker made his big tackle on Timberlane’s Dom Copetta for a 3-yard loss.

“Both teams have really good players,” Jackson said. “It’s just great we have this showcase now for the best players in New Hampshire to play football.”

Including the best

kickers.

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