It ends tonight
Kennett football ends Plymouth's 57-game win streak with 20-9 win at Gary Millen Stadium
|KENNETT'S Levi Bescos emerges from a pile with a key second half fumble recovery during the Eagles' 20-9 win over Plymouth Friday. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)|
September 17, 2010NORTH CONWAY — Six years ago, the Kennett football team, with Gary Millen at the helm, made history by ending a Plymouth win streak of 47 games.
On Friday night, in the stadium named for the late Kennett coach, the Eagles made history again.
A key Levi Bescos fumble recovery early in the second half helped the Eagles knock off Plymouth, ending the Bobcats' 57-game win streak, which was the longest in the nation coming in.
The 20-9 win was a perfect birthday present for Kennett's first-year head coach, Mike Holderman.
"This is the best one (birthday present) I've gotten," the Eagle coach said, soaking in the celebration. "It doesn't get any better than that."
The Eagles capitalized on numerous Plymouth mistakes, something that is very rarely seen from the Bobcats, who hadn't lost a game since that season six years ago when Sean Guinard hit Tyler Haynes in the end zone at McKeen Memorial Field.
However, things didn't exactly get off to a good start for the Eagles, who were looking for their first victory on their home field this season.
The defending division champions came out of the gate with a strong running game, as they carried the ball down the field methodically, ticking off a few yards at a time. Connor McDonald, Tim Currier and Geno Noel made good defensive plays for the Eagles, but the Bobcats continued to march down the field and ate up more than eight minutes of the first quarter, marching into the end zone for a 7-0 lead (after the extra point) with 3:43 on the clock.
Things got worse for the Eagles on their first offensive possession of the game. The Eagles couldn't get a first down and were forced to punt three plays into the drive. However, the snap sailed over the head of the punter and into the end zone, where it was quickly knocked out of bounds, giving Plymouth a safety, worth two more points on the scoreboard. With that, the visitors had a 9-0 lead with two minutes to play in the quarter.
The safety also gave the Bobcats the ball back, but they were unable to do anything with it, as Tucker Paven and Mike Lautenschlager both stepped up and made solid defensive plays, forcing the champs to punt on the first play of the second quarter.
Kennett didn't have much luck on their next drive either, but they also held Plymouth to a three and out, with Paven, Noel, Logan Spoor and Matt Lautenschlager turning in solid defensive plays.
The Eagles were finally able to string together a solid drive and it paid off.
Kennett kept the ball on the ground, as Nick Massa carried the first two carries and Spoor broke lose for a 23-yard pickup on the third play. Matt Gadomski and Massa continued the drive up the field, moving the ball all the way to the seven-yard line. Spoor carried to the one and Massa bullied his way in from there. Spoor booted the extra point and with 45 seconds to play in the half, the Eagles had cut the lead to 9-7, where it stayed heading to halftime.
The Eagles managed one first down in the first drive of the second half, as Massa pushed ahead on fourth and two, but they were forced to punt four plays later and Plymouth took over.
That didn't last long however, as on the third play from scrimmage, the Bobcats fumbled and Bescos emerged from the pile holding the football high, bringing a huge roar from the almost 1,000 people piled into Gary Millen Stadium.
The Eagles took over on the 35-yard line and needed just four plays to get in the end zone, as Massa carried the first three plays for a total of seven yard and Gadmoski covered the final 22 by holding off Bobcat defenders and pushing his way into the end zone for a 14-9 lead with 2:57 to play in the third quarter.
Bescos turned in a solid defensive play to start out the Bobcats' next drive and they never got going, punting the ball away just a few plays later.
Kennett took over, but the Eagles were unable to get into rhythm. A penalty on the first play put the Eagles on a first and 22. Spoor picked up 12 yards on a pass from quarterback Jesse Wheeler and Massa picked up eight more on a pair of runs, with the second one coming at the start of the fourth quarter.
On fourth and two, Holderman elected to go for it and Massa plowed forward. The chains came out and the ball was about an inch short of the line, giving the Bobcats the ball back.
However, a penalty on the first play negated a long run and the Bobcats could not get on track, eventually punting away. Gadomski fielded the punt with a fair catch and was leveled by a Bobcat, giving the Eagles the ball at the 34-yard line with 8:17 to play.
Kennett continued to use good time management and Massa, Godomski and Spoor did their job, eating up the clock and moving the ball all the way to the eight-yard line. On first and goal, Dustin Stewart picked up four yards and after Massa picked up three more, Stewart bounced into the end zone for a 20-9 lead (the extra point was no good) and Kennett needed to just hold the Bobcats for 2:38.
Plymouth did nothing with its next drive and turned the ball over on downs. The Eagles were also unable to move the ball, but they ate up enough clock that by the time Plymouth had the ball back there was only 26 seconds on the clock.
Mike Lautenschlager sealed the win when he intercepted the Plymouth pass on first down and the Eagles ran out the clock on their history-making win.
"We believed in it all week and we preached it all week, but to come out and execute the game plan, this is surreal," Holderman said. "This is a surreal moment."
The first-year head coach was incredibly pleased with his team's resilience after Plymouth jumped out to an early lead.
"After our first possession, we could've easily put our heads in the sand, but they believed," Holderman said. "To be down 9-0 and come back with 20 unanswered points… it's amazing."
He noted that the team had bought into his message since he took over in January and this was the payoff.
"They bought in from Jan. 4 and here we are," he said. "This is the payoff. We're back in position for the playoffs. It feels good"
The Eagles will try to carry their momentum to Hanover on Friday, Sept. 24, where they will kick off with the Marauders at 7 p.m.