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Castleberry Fairs

Tough start

Lakers frustrated by Pelham in opening football loss, 21-13

by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

I-L/MA’s Hunter Secord avoids a Pelham tackler en route to his eight-yard touchdown run in the second quarter on Sept. 8. The Lakers lost their opener, 21-13, in Division V action. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
September 10, 2012
MEREDITH – The numbers told the majority of the story for the Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough football team on Sept. 8.

The defending Division VI state champion Lakers, playing their first game since making the move up to Division V this fall, were dominated in time of possession, and couldn't stop the running attack of Pelham High School in a 21-13 loss to the Pythons at Burrows Memorial Field.

"Pelham is a great football team," explained new I-L/MA coach Jon Francis. "They're very physical. We definitely beat ourselves today and were outplayed by a very good team. Penalties killed us, I think we had somewhere around 100 yards of penalties…turnovers, too. Any time you play four quarters like that, you're probably not going to go out and win."

The differential in the number of offensive plays run was staggering. Pelham ran a whopping 78 plays on offense, while the Lakers took just 37 snaps from scrimmage. The Pythons also held a 2:1 advantage in time of possession in the second half, keeping the I-L/MA defense on the field for the majority of the afternoon.

"Our guys are in really good shape. We spend a lot of time conditioning at practice so we're geared for this type of play," said Francs. "But yeah, they had a very discipline offense and they grounded it out on us and we didn't have an answer."

Chris Medieros led the Pelham ground attack with 111 yards on 24 carries, while fullback Leo Moro presented big problems up the middle. Moro gained 68 yards on 21 carries, but he was almost automatic when the Pythons needed to convert a third or fourth down from short yardage.

"We definitely had some difficulty stopping them up the middle," Francis said. "They had a really good fullback. When I scouted them last week I saw that. We worked on that a lot this week but their offensive line showed up today and outplayed our defensive line. That battle was lost at the line of scrimmage and the game reflects that."

Pelham (1-1) got on the board first, when the Pythons took advantage of an I-L/MA fumble and marched down a short field to take a 7-0 lead when Medieros scored from 16 yards out with 6:57 left in the first quarter.

The Lakers (0-1) responded almost immediately however, as it took quarterback Mitch Jurius and his offense just three plays to get the equalizer. On third down from his own 23 yard line, Jurius uncorked a bomb downfield. The pass hit off the hands of an open Brandon Krueger and fell right to Andrew Torressen on the deflection. Torressen did the rest, running the remaining 40 yards for what amounted to a 77-yard TD reception, electrifying the home crowd and tying the game 7-7 with 5:30 left in the first after Krueger kicked the extra point.

"That's just one of those things that worked out and it made it look like something better than it was," said a smiling Francis of the fluky touchdown play. "You're thankful for those things when they're there for you and not the other team."

Pelham got its lead back late in the quarter however, as a nine-play drive was capped off by a five-yard quarterback sneak TD from Joseph Slattery. He also tossed a completion for the two-point conversion to put the visitors on top 15-7.

I-L/MA would score its final points early in the second quarter, as the hosts cut the deficit to 15-13 when senior Hunter Secord (four carries, 24 yards) broke through the right side for an eight-yard TD scamper. The two-point conversion pass failed.

The backbreaker came on the ensuing Pelham possession, as the Pythons used an 18-play, 81 yard drive that took nearly eight minutes off the clock to score another touchdown. Kevin Cheam (five carries, 48 yards) finished off the lengthy drive with a five-yard touchdown run to put Pelham ahead for good at 21-13.

"I think we just had trouble accounting for that line of scrimmage," admitted Francis. "Our line just didn't have an answer for it."

The teams played a scoreless second half, with Pelham eating up a huge chunk of the clock thanks to a running game that gained four or five yards a pop. I-L/MA did have a good chance to get the tying touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, when they took over at the Pelham 18 yard line after a turnover on downs. But a penalty backed the Lakers up, and Jurius was sacked on fourth down. I-L/MA wouldn't see the ball again, as Pelham closed the game out with a 15-play drive that ate up the remaining 6:50 and resulted in three kneels to finish things off.

Willie True led the I-L/MA rushing attack, which averaged just 3.7 yards per carry, with 10 carries for 36 yards, while Devante Carter chipped in 19 yards on seven carries. Jurius was 2-of-6 passing for 77 yards.

I-L/MA is right back in action on Friday night, Sept. 14, when the Lakers take their first road trip in Division V with a lengthy bus ride to Monadnock for a 6:35 p.m. kickoff.

NOTES: While I-L/MA was playing its first game since moving up to D-V, Pelham was playing in its second since dropping down from Division III. The Pythons went 0-17 in two years at the D-III level, and lost their opener against Sanborn to open up this fall, 27-12, on Sept. 1…The Lakers won't have much time to learn their surroundings in D-V, as next year will mark the reclassification of teams into three divisions instead of six. I-L/MA will return to playing Lakes Region schools such as Gilford and Winnisquam, with D-V and D-VI teams combining to create what will be called Division III starting in 2013…MA junior Derek Rosette recovered a fumble for the Lakers in the second quarter, while teammate Richard Monty recorded a sack to pace the defense.

Garnett Hill
Parker Village
Martin Lord Osman
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