Cavs no pushover in loss to Sabers

AMHERST – Looks like Hollis/Brookline and Souhegan can start to play exciting games in football just like they already do in most sports.

The upstart Cavaliers, still developing as a football team in just their fifth year of varsity, stunned the longtime Division III powerhouse Sabers with a lightning-quick opening touchdown and hung in through the first half before succumbing 36-15 last Friday night at Souhegan High School.

The Cavs sent a message with their second play from scrimmage, a crisp 55-yard hookup between quarterback Kyle Gervais (146 yards passing) and Nathan Russell. Two plays later, Brian Liamos scored from 11 yards out along with the conversion to give H/B an 8-0 lead. When Colin Pellerin intercepted the Sabers first play from scrimmage, things got very interesting. However, Nick Calvetti returned the favor for Souhegan, leading to an eventual 38-yard touchdown run by Chris Chininis. A Luks keeper just before the end of the first half made it 15-8.

Throughout the rest of the half, the Cavaliers moved the ball at will- they had an amazing 13 first downs to go with 163 yards rushing- but they were bedeviled by turning the ball over on downs twice in the red zone. They did take advantage of a great Mitch Frick return to midfield to put together the half’s final scoring drive, culminating in a Colin Pellerin 12-yard touchdown run up the middle.

Unfortunately for the Cavs, it would be one of Pellerin’s last contributions in the game, as he left at halftime due to heat exhaustion. He already had 71 yards rushing. The loss of Pellerin, along with H/B’s struggles in the red zone despite moving the ball with ease everywhere else, were devastating for the Cavs.

“We were inside the 20, what? Three, four times?” asked Cavs coach Milt Robinson. “We’ve got to score on those.”

Without Pellerin playing in the second half, the Sabers were able to key on Liamos (94 yards) more and controlled the game, shutting the Cavs out in the second half.

It was a second half that started horribly for the Sabers, fumbling the opening kickoff and gifting H/B with the ball on the Sabers’ 33, but a fumble and a giant 12-yard sack by Brendan McKenna thwarted that abbreviated drive.

Souhegan’s Eric Dwinell made a spectacular one-handed interception on the Cavaliers’ next drive, and Terry Dougdale intercepted Gervais on the following drive and returned the ball into Cavaliers territory, allowing the Sabers to run out most of the rest of the third quarter.

“We made some good adjustments at halftime, and we pitched a shutout in the second half,” said Souhegan coach Mike Beliveau. The coach was particularly happy with junior running back Jason Doheny, who seemingly came out of nowhere to lead all rushers with 116 yards.

The fourth quarter flew by, with the only score being the second of Mike Luks’ two one-yard rushing touchdowns of the night. Luks finished with 137 yards passing, and had an efficient rushing line of two carries for two yards for two touchdowns. The senior quarterback did a great job spreading his 10 completions around, but Matt Schagrin led the way with four catches for 79 yards.