Eagles trounce Knights for Carroll County title
Win earns Kennett a playoff berth against Plymouth on Saturday
|KENNETT’S TANNER BAILLARGEON leaps in front of Kingswood’s Kohl Meyers to pick off a pass during Carroll County Championship action on Oct. 30. Kathy Sutherland. (click for larger version)|
November 02, 2009WOLFEBORO — For the first time in recent memory, there was more on the line in the season's final game than just the Carroll County Championship.
This time around, the winning team got to continue its season in the playoffs, while the losing team had the offseason to think about where things went wrong.
And it didn't take long for it to become apparent that the Kennett Eagles would be making their second straight trip to the Division IV playoffs, as the Eagles took advantage of two Kingswood turnovers in the first quarter on their way to a 47-9 win and a date with Plymouth on Nov. 7.
"We were sharp," Kennett coach Ken Sciacca said, noting that it was a bit surprising since injuries and illness had many Eagles playing out of position. "A lot of guys are sick or injured so at the end of the game a lot of guys were in different positions and we had no subs."
"It's almost like we self-destructed, like we lost that sense of urgency," Kingswood coach Matt Jozokos said. "They (Kennett) understand how to win right now because they've had success, we are not there yet."
The game started out well enough for the Knights, as they moved the ball down the field relatively easily against the Kennett defense on the first possession. Dana Mahar, Isaac Horton and quarterback Tate Jozokos ran the ball all the way to the 23-yard line and the Knights appeared poised to get on the board first.
But, a bad snap sailed high over Jozokos' head and Kennett's Max Brennick chased down the loose ball and recovered, giving the Eagles the ball.
Paul Rainville came right in on the next play and sacked Kennett quarterback Scott Saunders, but on second and 15, Tanner Baillargeon ran for seven yards and then Saunders hit Baillargeon with a pass and the senior back took it to the end zone, completing a 58-yard play for a 6-0 Kennett lead with 7:57 to play in the first quarter.
The Knights went back to work on the next drive and after a 13-yard pick-up for Horton on the first play from scrimmage, the second play produced yet another fumble and Levi Bescos recovered, giving the Eagles a first down at the 41-yard line.
The Eagles struggled toe move the ball at first, as Brennick was hurt on the second play of the drive. However, Saunders hit Jeff Sires on a second and 15 from beyond midfield and the senior receiver took the ball to the 21-yard line for a 32-yard pickup and a first down. Three plays later Saunders hit Sires in the end zone from 20 yards out for an Eagle touchdown. The extra point was no good again and the lead was 12-0 with 3:05 to play in the first quarter.
Kingswood came out and moved the ball with some help from a Kennett penalty, but on third and 11 the pass fell incomplete and the Knights had to punt. A great punt by Jozokos pinned the Eagles deep at the four-yard line.
On second down from the seven-yard line, Logan Spoor broke free for a 36-yard gain out to the 41-yard line. After short runs by Matt Gadomski and Baillargeon, Saunders hit Baillargeon for a 49-yard completion down to the six-yard line. Three plays later the 96-yard drive culminated with a Baillargeon carry from three-yards out. The two-point attempt went through the hands of Sires, but Matt Lautenschlager was there to pick it out of the air and give the Eagles a 20-0 lead with 7:50 to go in the half.
The Knights were once again victimized by a bad snap, this time on a punt after they were unable to move the ball on three plays. The Eagles took over on their own 12-yard line and it took just two plays for Baillargeon to run into the end zone for a 26-0 lead with 5:45 to play in the half.
Special teams struggled again for the Knights on the next possession, as Spoor raced in from the side and blocked the Kingswood punt, then fell on the ball in the end zone for a 33-0 lead with 3:54 to play in the half.
Kingswood got a good jolt to start the next possession, as Jozokos returned the kick to the 47-yard line. He then bolted 26 yards to move the ball inside the 30-yard line. Jozokos and Horton each carried to move the ball to the 11-yard line, but on third down, Baillargeon leaped and pulled down a pass meant for Kohl Meyers, giving the Eagles the ball back with 99 yards to go.
However, the Eagles needed just two plays to go those 99 yards, as Baillargeon broke loose for a 93-yard touchdown run on the second play and with 34 seconds to go in the half, Kennett had a 40-0 lead.
Kingswood tried to move the ball in the remaining 30 seconds, as Aaron Vaillancourt had a 15-yard run, but that was all they could muster and the game went to the half with the Eagles up by a 40-0 score.
The Eagles had their first non-scoring drive to open the second half and the Knights responded with their first score on their first possession.
After two incomplete passes, Jozokos ran on third down to set up fourth and two. Horton broke free on fourth down and scampered down inside the 20-yard line to the 16. Jozokos came off the field for an apparent injury and Cam Whitcomb came on to carry the ball. Two plays later, Horton took the ball four yards for the Knights' first touchdown of the game, making it 40-6 with 3:36 to play in the quarter.
Kennett ate up the remainder of the third quarter clock (running time was in place with a 35-point lead at halftime) and continued into the fourth quarter with Jesse Wheeler guiding the offense. Spoor, Wheeler and Gadomski helped carry the load, converting three fourth downs along the way, including the touchdown from 12 yards out after a sack by Jake VanMalden and Aaron Vaillancourt pushed the Knights to fourth and three. Gadomski got the touchdown and the extra point made it 47-6 with 7:27 to play.
Kingswood moved the ball down the field with the final possession and got a 35-yard Andrew Souther field goal to finish out the scoring at 47-9.
"We had to win that game," said Sciacca. "That's all I cared about."
While his team hoped for Plymouth in the first round, the Eagle coach said it didn't matter to him which team they played, as long as they got in.
"They're both tough opponents," he noted.
"The guys are working hard but we can't get over the hump," said Jozokos. "We're not competing in the big games."
He noted that the coaching staff had a busy offseason ahead of them as they work out where to go following the second 3-5 season.
"We have to sit down as coaches and figure out what has to be done," he said. "We've come a long way in three years, but I would've liked to have gotten into that (playoff) game."
The Knights finished at 3-5, while the Eagles finish at 5-3 and are the fourth seed in the Division IV playoffs, meaning a meeting with Plymouth at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7 (note the new start time). The Bobcats beat the Eagles 21-14 on Sept. 19.