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Tigers run past Gilford in title game

Gilford’s Brendan Murphy fights off a Newport tackle during action Saturday in the Division Six championship game. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
November 17, 2010
Gilford football coach Mark Brewer knew that the Newport Tigers squad that his team had beaten a few weeks earlier was not the team that was going to show up for the Division Six championship game on Saturday afternoon.

He couldn't have been more right.

The second-seeded Tigers pulled into Gilford on Saturday, scored on their second offensive play of the game and never looked back, rolling to a 35-0 win over the top-seeded Golden Eagles. For the Tigers it was the first championship since 1995. The Gilford boys were looking for their first championship in two appearances in the title game.

"The bottom line is they wanted it today more than we did," Brewer stated. "We were down here three times and we couldn't put points on the board.

"They played the better game. I thought we had enough weapons, but we didn't."

Brewer expected Newport to do a lot of running up the middle with Brendan Hogan and Harrison Wade and they did just that, as the backs ate through the middle of the Gilford defense for much of the afternoon.

"They didn't do anything we didn't expect them to do," Brewer stated.

It looked like Gilford was going to get off to a good start, as the Eagles received the opening kickoff and quickly moved down the field. Brendan Murphy, the junior back who gained 1,800 yards on the season, picked up 31 yards on the first play from scrimmage, moving the ball all the way to the 27-yard line. Three plays later he was inside the 20 with a fourth down and two and 10 minutes to play in the first quarter. However, Murphy was dropped in the backfield and Newport took over on downs.

The Tigers wasted no time in getting on the board. After a one-yard run on first down, quarterback Josh Stout broke free for a 75-yard dash to the end zone. The Tigers drilled the extra point and took a 7-0 lead with 9:05 to play in the first quarter.

Gilford went with a healthy dose of Murphy on the ensuing drive and the junior picked up a key first down. Sophomore Matt Dean also picked up a first down on the ground and the Golden Eagles moved inside the 30-yard line for the second time on the afternoon. However, on fourth and three, Dean came up just short and the Newport boys got the ball back with their second fourth-down stop.

This time, however, after a couple of penalties, the Golden Eagles were able to keep Newport from moving the ball and got the ball back.

After Murphy was stopped in the backfield on first down, quarterback James Seager hit Ronny Bean for a gain of 38 yards. Dean then carried twice, including a big gain on third down, bouncing off tackles to bring the ball to the eight-yard line as the first quarter expired.

Back-to-back carries by Dean and Murphy put the ball at the five-yard line and on third down, Seager hit Alec Boucher in the end zone. However, the ball bounced off the receiver's hands and fell incomplete, setting up fourth and goal at the five. Murphy was stopped short of the goal line and for the third time on the afternoon, Newport had a fourth down stop and got the ball back on downs.

The Tigers then ate up the clock, moving the ball up the field completely on the ground and Wade carried in from three yards out with 4:12 to go in the half. The Tigers missed the extra point but still led 13-0.

Seager hit Bean with a pass to open up Gilford's next drive, but the ball was fumbled and Newport recovered, taking over at the 41-yard line.

The Tigers never took the ball off the ground until the final play of the drive, when Stout hit Nick Sullivan in the end zone from four yards out. The Tigers made the two-point conversion and took a 21-0 lead with 32 seconds left in the half and took that lead to the break.

The Gilford defense came out stout in the second half, as the Golden Eagles kept the Tigers from moving the ball too far and got the ball back after nice defensive plays from Dean and Jacob Harper.

A solid run by Murphy on second down gave Gilford a first down, but a penalty backed them up five yards. Seager hit Murphy with a screen pass on third down, but the Golden Eagles were still five yards short. Murphy was stopped on fourth down and for the fourth time, Newport took over on downs.

However, the Tigers did nothing, going three and out and punting away and Gilford went with a heavy dose of Dean, as he ran the ball three straight times for a first down. A penalty on first down backed Gilford up and Seager's second pass was intercepted by Greg Beaulieu and returned to the 30-yard line. One play later, the third quarter ended, with Gilford trialing 21-0.

The Tigers continued to run the ball and three plays into the fourth quarter, carried in from eight yards out. The Tigers converted the two-point conversion and had a 29-0 lead with 10:51 to play.

Looking to avoid the shutout, Gilford came back with a strong drive, led by the feet of Murphy, who broke off a big run of 53 yards to move the ball to the 14-yard line. However, Gilford couldn't capitalize and Newport took over on downs again with 7:15 left in the game.

The Tigers needed just six plays and three minutes for their next drive, carrying the ball 80 yards on the ground and capping it off with a five-yard push to the end zone. They converted the two-point play and took a 35-0 lead with 4:15 to play.

Gilford continued to fight to avoid the shutout, with Seager hitting Boucher with a pass and another to Murphy, but on fourth down, Seager was intercepted, sealing the game shutout for the Tigers.

"We didn't play our game today," Brewer said. "They took away our game. They had our number today."

The Golden Eagles coach said he told his team in a speech the previous night that they were all winners in his book already just for making their march to the championship game.

"It was kind of nice to be the only team left playing in the Lakes Region," he said.

Brewer also noted he has a significant group of kids coming back next year.

"Hopefully we're going to learn from this," he said. "We've got a lot of talent back for next year."

Martin Lord & Osman
Martin Lord Osman
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