Plymouth's Brock Tanner (26) and Will Foisy put a hit on a Merrimack Valley ball carrier in action Saturday. (Photo by Joshua Spaulding) (click for larger version)
October 13, 2021PLYMOUTH — The Plymouth football team had to battle through a few injuries on Saturday, but the Bobcats still came away with a 35-7 win over Merrimack Valley to continue a solid season on the gridiron.
"It's always fun to coach against Joe Raycraft," said Plymouth coach Chris Sanborn. "He's a good coach and a gentleman.
"We had a lot of guys out and a lot of guys filling in," the Bobcat mentor added.
The Bobcats scored on the first drive of the game, using up four and a half minutes of the clock and covering 60 yards. Dylan Welch, Matt Cleary and Landon Fogg did the work on the ground and quarterback Kurtis Cross converted a fourth and 11 with a big run to get the ball inside the 20. From there, Cross hit Jake Crowley in the end zone with 7:26 to go in the first. Will Fogarty's extra point made it 7-0 for the Bobcats.
The Plymouth defense, led by a big backfield tackle from Eddie Camp, who would later leave the game with an injury, forced the Pride to punt away after getting just one first down.
The Bobcats then proceeded to eat up the rest of the first quarter clock as Welch, Brock Tanner and Anthony Ciotti carried the ball and Cross had another fourth down conversion with his feet.
The Bobcats started the second quarter with runs from Ciotti and Welch, but the fourth down magic continued on fourth and long at the 25, when Cross dropped back and found Welch with a screen pass and the shifty back did the rest, racing to the end zone for the touchdown. Ciotti then ran in for the two-point conversion and Plymouth's lead was 15-0 with 8:46 to go in the half.
Tyler Stokowski had a big defensive stop, forcing the Pride to go three and out and Plymouth scored on the ensuing drive. Welch and Ciotti did the work on the ground as Plymouth marched down the field, with Ciotti converting another fourth down for the Bobcats. Cross then hit Crowley for the touchdown from 33 yards out with 1:22 to go. The extra point was no good but Plymouth still had the 21-0 lead.
The Pride fumbled on a punt attempt on the next drive and Plymouth took over, with Crowley recovering the fumble to set the Bobcats up at the 20. Three plays later, Cleary was in the end zone from seven yards out and Fogarty's extra point made it 28-0 at halftime.
The visitors came out with a solid drive in the third quarter, but a sack from Cleary helped Plymouth keep them off the board and then Tanner intercepted a Valley pass to get Plymouth the ball back. Cleary, Ciotti, Tanner and Fogg got the Bobcats moving, but an interception gave the Pride the ball back.
That possession didn't last too long, as after Cleary had a sack on the first play of the drive, Jaivon Cadore was able to come up with an interception and Plymouth was back on offense. That also didn't last long, as Cross hit Tanner for a 47-yard touchdown pass with 4:01 to go and Fogarty's extra point made it 35-0.
Valley went three and out to close out the third quarter and the two teams exchanged drives that didn't get very far. Plymouth was attempting to punt away on their final drive when the punt was blocked and the Pride recovered and took the ball to the end zone for the final score of the game. The extra point made it 35-7, where it ended.
"Eddie (Camp) going down really limited us," said Sanborn. "But Tyler Stokowski, who had been hurt earlier, he came back in and played and finished out for us. That was a gut check for him and I was proud of him."
The Bobcat coach also pointed out that the Bobcats are right where they were hoping to be at this point in the season.
"We said coming out that we'd like to be sitting here with one loss," Sanborn said. "We have St. Thomas and Gilford-Belmont coming up, we have to win at least one of those two.
"It won't be easy, we have our work cut out for us," he continued.
Sanborn also praised the work of Jake Killion, Andrew Newman and Reed Ibarguen, who all did solid work inside for the Bobcats.
The Bobcats will be on the road at St. Thomas on Saturday, Oct. 16, at 2 p.m.
Sports Editor Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 279-4516, ext. 155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.