JORDAN STOCKER (20) congratulates Tommy Donovan after Donovan busted loose for a touchdown in Friday night’s Homecoming win. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
October 01, 2012NORTH CONWAY — The Kennett football team brought a bright finish to a gloomy Homecoming on Friday night.
With Mother Nature playing spoiler all afternoon with rain and drizzle dampening the four games, the Kennett teams earned a split, highlighted by the football team's 18-7 win over Hanover.
"That's a good win," coach Mike Holderman said.
The game didn't exactly out the way Holderman and his squad would've liked, however.
Kennett got solid defensive plays from Chris Krug and Jacob Cameron in the backfield to stuff the Marauders on both third and fourth down to give the Eagles the ball the ball near midfield.
However, on the first play from scrimmage, Hanover picked off Nick Graziano's pass to give the visitors the ball back and they moved the ball on the ground down the field, finishing the drive off with an eight-yard touchdown run and an extra point for a 7-0 lead with 5:22 to go in the first quarter.
Little did the Marauders know, but they wouldn't see the end zone again on the evening.
Kennett answered right back on the next drive. On the third play from scrimmage, Tommy Donovan broke a 56-yard run for a touchdown with just more than four minutes to go in the quarter. Though the extra point was blocked, the Eagles were within one at 7-6.
The Eagle defense, which has been stellar the last three games, got a sack from Caleb Suprenard and forced the Marauders to punt.
Kennett took over late in the first quarter, with Graziano, Devan Bynoe, Christian Rivers and Nate Arnold moving the ball up the field to close out the quarter.
On the second play of the second quarter, Arnold broke through for a 49-yard touchdown run just 47 seconds into the quarter for a 12-7 lead.
Once again, the Eagle defense was strong, as Steve Cotton and Jon Saxby combined for a sack and Hanover punted again. The Eagles then marched down the field, with Rivers, Arnold, Donovan and Bynoe getting the carries. The Eagles eventually made it to the eight yard line for first and goal.
However, four plays later, the Marauder defense stuffed the Eagles on fourth and goal inside the one to close out the first half. Despite not getting in the end zone, the Eagles still hung on to the 12-7 lead.
The Eagles opened the second half in fine fashion, eating up the clock with a 60-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown. Again it was Arnold, Donovan, Rivers and Bynoe doing the work on the ground.
However, it was Saxby who made the big play, as he hauled in a pass from Graziano and turned it into a 31-yard gain to the one yard line. From there, Rivers took the ball in and Kennett had the 18-7 lead.
Hanover began moving the ball on the next drive, but on first and 10, Donovan stepped in front of a Marauder pass to give the Eagles the ball back. However, Kennett had to punt the ball away four plays later, ending the third quarter with the 18-7 lead.
Donovan came up big again, ending another Hanover drive with an interception on the second play from scrimmage. This time, the Eagles were able to eat up some clock before punting.
The Eagle defense continued to shine, as this time it was Jordan Stocker stepping up with an interception, giving the hosts the ball back with less than four minutes to play.
However, the Kennett offense was unable to run out the clock, giving Hanover one final shot with less than a minute left on the clock. However, Krug stepped up with the Eagles' fourth interception of the night, sealing the 18-7 win.
Holderman noted that before last week's game at Lebanon, he challenged the defensive backs to come up with some information, promising them some good Kennett football gear if they could come up with the picks.
The Eagles responded last week with three interceptions and this week they picked up four.
"They're taking me up on my offer," Holderman said. "Pretty soon I'll be broke."
Holderman also pointed out that the offense has stepped up with the loss of star senior running back Nick Massa to injury.
"They really came together this week," Holderman said of his running back corps. "With Christian (Rivers) and Nate (Arnold) doing Nick's work inside and Tommy (Donovan) and Devan (Bynoe) on the outside, we controlled the clock.
"We did what we had to do," he added.
Holderman continued to praise his team's defense, which has allowed 14 points in the last three games after giving up 52 in the first two weeks.
He noted that the change came in the defensive end position, where he got the players to crash instead of going up the field.
"Once we made that fix, it's been lights out," Holderman said. "And as long as they keep buying into it, we'll keep rolling."
The Eagles will now have to host a strong Trinity game on Friday, Oct. 5.
"After the loss at St. Thomas, we had Hanover, Trinity and Windham circled and knew we had to get one of them," Holderman said. "Our next goal is to just get another.
"They're listening to what we're telling them and playing their butts off," he added.
Game time is 7 p.m. at Gary Millen Stadium.
The other win for the Eagles for Homecoming came on the field hockey team, where coach CJ Lang's girls bounced back from a two-game losing streak to knock off Portsmouth 3-0.
While both squads had early chances, it was the Eagles who took advantage first, with Elyse Clancy putting the ball in the net off a corner for a 1-0 lead just more than 7:30 into the contest.
Kennett didn't waste much time before doubling the lead, as Marci Williams put the ball in the net off of great pressure from Emily Watson and the rest of the Eagles, upping the lead to 2-0 with 22:11 to play in the first half.
The Clippers came back with a couple of good offensive chances, but Kennett's defense stepped up on a pair of corners. Lara Murnik also made a nice save to keep her team ahead by a pair of goals.
Clancy, Watson and Maggie LaRoche continued the great pressure for the Eagles, but they were unable to put the ball in the net and despite Portsmouth's final chances in the last few minutes, the Eagles took the 2-0 lead to the halftime break.
Portsmouth came out of the gate in the second half with a number of great chances, including a couple of early corners. Murnik stepped up with a couple of solid saves in the Eagle net as the Clippers pressured numerous times in the offensive zone.
Despite the Clipper pressure, it was the Eagles who got on the board about midway through the half. Clancy put the ball in the net for her second tally of the game, upping the lead to 3-0.
Portsmouth didn't back down at all, continuing to pressure in the offensive zone, with Murnik making a number of solid saves in the Eagle net.
The Clippers fought to the very end, getting plenty of chances as the clock rolled along in the second half, but the Kennett defense and Murnik held tough and the Eagles walked off with the 3-0 victory.
"We're stuck in a rut for two games in a row and have to step it up, so I was excited to see we were able to bring it together for Homecoming and put it together at the end of the week after two losses," Lang said. "I think it's good to see."
In all three of the team's games this week, the Eagles scored first, but Lang noted it was important to try and maintain that lead, something the team couldn't do earlier in the week.
"We were coming out strong and scoring first in every game this week," Lang said. "But we need to continue to get stronger as the game goes on and not settle and keep up intensity.
"We did a pretty good job of that today," she continued. "We slowed down a little in the second, but we were able to keep the lead."
The Eagle soccer boys hosted Merrimack Valley for Homecoming and the Pride played spoiler, walking off with a 4-1 win in the rain and drizzle.
Cam Clark got the start in net for the Eagles, with Ryan Vajentic moving out onto the field to help provide some defensive help.
Clark made a couple of big saves early to keep the Pride off the board and Alex Fauver and the Eagles had a couple chances that didn't quite make it on net.
The visitors got on the board first midway through the first half, firing a shot past Clark for a 1-0 lead. Just five minutes later, the Pride added another goal for a 2-0 lead.
The visitors continued to pressure, with Clark making a number of big saves. Kurt Niiler and Fauver did their best to get the ball up the field in the offensive zone, but they were unable to put the ball in the net.
Merrimack Valley got a corner kick late in the half, but Clark did a nice job of making a save and the defense continued to clear the ball out.
However, with about two minutes to go, the visitors added a third goal and took a 3-0 lead to the halftime break.
The Pride managed to get on the board again about 10 minutes into the second half, scoring on a direct kick that glanced off the fingertips of Clark, allowing the visitors to take a 4-0 lead.
Bryce Phillips, Niiler and Fauver continued the pressure for the Eagles, but they were unable to get on the board, as the Pride defense and keeper stayed strong and didn't allow the ball over the goal line.
Clark made a few more great saves down the stretch and that allowed his team to get on the board in the final minutes, as Domenic Lentini finished off a great series of pressure with a tally in the final minutes to cut the lead to 4-1, where the game ended.
"We had a much better second half," coach Dave Hart. "The first half was really sloppy, not just because it was wet, but because we couldn't put passes together in the midfield.
"If you lose possession in the midfield, the game goes the other way," Hart continued.
Hart noted Clark had a solid game, which allowed Vajentic the chance to come out and play with the defensive corps, boosting its strength.
The first-year head coach was also impressed that his team continued to press, despite being down late.
"They're still playing hard and wanting to win," Hart said. "That's what we ask."
The Kennett girls' soccer team fell behind early against the Pride on Gary Millen Stadium on Friday and was unable to get over the hump, dropping a 5-0 decision to the Pride in the Homecoming action.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at email@example.com or 569-3126