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Crusaders make their point against Redhawks


October 20, 2010
HOPKINTON — It was one last drive but it mattered. Although the Hopkinton Redhawks defeated Littleton 27-7 Sunday — the Crusaders weren't leaving town without making a point, or rather seven points.

After surviving a raft of unsportsmanlike plays committed by the Redhawks — including some block-in-the-back penalties, an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit, and a few personal fouls — Littleton was determined to show the Redhawks how the game is supposed to be played.

"Absolutely, it's a true testament to our offense," said Littleton offensive coordinator Bob Sheppard. "Our whole team didn't put their head down, didn't start arguing amongst each other, put it all together — we got that last drive. We don't give up and we play hard."

Crusaders tight end Nelson Barney showed the hard-nosed way. Barney caught four passes for 91 yards including a touchdown grab against the Redhawks. It was the second straight impressive receiving performance for the hulking receiver. Barney caught three passes for 54 yards two weeks ago against the Seacoast Titans. It's a surprise considering he never expected to be a passing threat this season.

"I thought they were just going to use me for blocking," Barney said.

The lineman sheds accolades for his good hands as well as he blocks opponents.

"I just found these pair of gloves and (passes) stick pretty well," Barney said.

Barney also set up Littleton's lone score by scooping up a punt that Hopkinton's Ian Kuck left for dead and returning it 25 yards to Hopkinton's 45-yard line with 2:42 remaining in the game. Five plays later Barney snagged a pass from quarterback Keegan Doolan and bullied his way down the right sideline 28 yards for a touchdown. Doolan booted the point after to pull Littleton within 27-7 with 47 seconds left. It was just one touchdown in the final minute — but Barney said they wanted it badly.

"I was pretty certain that today I was going to score," Barney said. "That was my goal from the beginning of the game. And I guess I accomplished my goal."

The game was closer than the final score indicated — three Redhawks touchdowns came after a pair of Littleton turnovers and a muffed punt — all three miscues set up Hopkinton deep in Crusaders territory.

Littleton fumbled on the first play of its opening possession and Hopkinton recovered on the Crusaders 34-yard line. Five plays later Kuck rushed in for a touchdown from the 1-yard line. Jay White's point after made it 7-0 with 5:52 left in the first period.

The Redhawks moved 62 yards in 12 plays midway through the second quarter for their second score. Cody White rushed in from the 2-yard line to make it 13-0 with 5:17 left before the half.

Hopkinton stretched the margin on its first possession of the third quarter with the help of an interception by Eric Brooks. Setting up on Littleton's 25-yard line, the Redhawks scored in eight plays. Cody White rushed in from the 1-yard line. Jay White booted the point after to put the Redhawks ahead 20-0 with 6:37 left in the third quarter.

Hopkinton got its final touchdown following a shanked Littleton punt which traveled only 11 yards and gave the Redhawks the ball on the Crusaders 21-yard line. Hopkinton used seven plays to score with Brenden Tobine bulling in from the 1-yard line. Jay White's point after gave Hopkinton a 27-0 lead with 8:53 left in the game.

The Crusaders were a little banged up after the game. J.R. Newell injured his neck with 3:12 left in the second quarter and left the field via a stretcher toward a waiting ambulance. Matt LaFlamme suffered a probable concussion. Jake Veilleux spent the fourth quarter on the sidelines with an injured leg.

Littleton's record fell to 3-4 overall, 1-4 in the Independent Football League. But coach Sheppard said Littleton should be ready to take on a team from Standstead, Canada, this Friday night at Apthorp Common in Littleton. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m.

"Heading into the next game we're going to work hard at practice. The kids don't give up," Sheppard said. "We have a couple guys that were hurt. They're going to be healthy again for next week. And we're looking forward to next week's game."

After a rough-and-tumble bout with the Redhawks — highlighted by more than a few yellow flags — Barney and the Crusaders made their point. Now they hope to score more points this Friday night — Senior Night for the outgoing Crusaders.

"We didn't want to go out of here with nothing," Barney said. "Senior Night should be a good game. I think a lot of the players will be more hyped up for next Friday since we scored — rather than go out of here with nothing."

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