Offense erupts as Eagles thump Mascoma, 53-14

by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

Gilford senior wide receiver Kyle Gaudet makes a move around a Mascoma Valley defender en route to a touchdown in the first quarter of the Eagles' 53-14 victory on Saturday in Canaan. Gaudet finished with 195 yards receiving and three touchdowns. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
October 13, 2014
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Behind an incredible six touchdown passes from junior quarterback Carter Mercer, not much went wrong for the Gilford High School football team on Saturday. On the road at Mascoma Valley, the Golden Eagles scored early and often, throttling the host Royals in a 53-14 rout that moved Gilford's record to 4-1 overall in the Division III North Conference.

"When we're clicking, we have a lot of different options offensively," said Gilford head coach Shawn Garrett. "By no means are we perfect, but if we keep the mistakes to a minimum we're able to score some points."

Mercer was the catalyst for the offense, as he posted a ridiculous line: 14-for-16 passing, 342 yards, six TDs. Three of his touchdowns came to senior receiver Kyle Gaudet, who dominated his matchups with an overmatched Mascoma secondary to the tune of five receptions and 195 yards.

"The yards after catch were huge for Kyle today," said Garrett, who watched Gaudet take two screens to the house one that went for a 74-yard touchdown.

Senior tailback Max Troiano, who took snaps under center at quarterback in the fourth quarter, finished with 227 yards of total offense (131 rushing, 96 receiving) to go along with three total touchdowns (one rushing, two receiving). Fullback Dave MacDonald also scored a touchdown on the ground, as he racked up 44 yards rushing on eight carries. Braedon Lacroix also added a touchdown reception.

It was the second week in a row that Gilford dominated on the road, as the rout came after a 41-0 shutout at Fall Mountain on Oct. 4. The back to back wins helped right the ship after a tough loss to Newport the previous week.

"That Newport loss refocused us," explained Garrett. "It's no coincidence that we scored a lot of points the last two weeks."

Gilford jumped out to a 20-0 lead in the first quarter against Mascoma (2-3 overall), a team that won two games in a row entering the afternoon. MacDonald got the scoring started on the team's opening drive, as he bulled in from three yards out. Mercer connected with Gaudet for their first hookup of the afternoon on the next drive (32-yard TD pass) while Troiano hauled in a 12-yard TD over the middle with 1:13 left to make it 20-0.

The Gilford defense was also taking care of business, holding the Royals to just one first down in the opening quarter. The Eagles stuffed Mascoma on fourth and short on three separate occasions in the period.

Mascoma would break through for its first touchdown midway through the second quarter however, as a stacked Gilford defense playing against a full house backfield was burned by tailback Andrew Cashe for a 94-yard scamper that brought the hosts within 20-8.

Pushed back for the first time all game, the Eagles responded quickly. The ensuing drive needed just four plays to reach paydirt, as Mercer hit Gaudet for the 74-yard touchdown on fourth and seven, and the extra point from Spencer McEvoy put the visitors on top 27-8.

Just before halftime, Mercer connected with Troiano for a 16-yard touchdown with 43 seconds remaining, and McEvoy made it 34-8 at halftime with the PAT.

"The offensive line is really gelling," said Garrett. "This is the first year for many of those guys but they've been giving our guys time to get open and make plays."

The Eagles scored three more touchdowns in the third quarter to get the clock to running time, as Gaudet (48-yard reception), Lacroix (10-yard reception) and Troiano (11-yard rush) all crossed the goal line in the stanza. Cashe would score his second TD of the game for Mascoma (53-yard rush) in the third as well, and Gilford led 53-14 into the fourth quarter a score that would hold up as final.

Next up is a big one for the Eagles, as a rematch of last year's North Conference championship game will see Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough (3-2 overall) come to town for a 1:30 p.m. tilt. The visiting Lakers pulled out a 27-14 win in last year's title game, a loss that Gilford hasn't soon forgotten.

"This one has been circled on the calendar since that playoff loss last year," said Garrett.

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