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Bobcats hold off Monadnock in opener

Plymouth’s Taylor Newberry leaps over the Monadnock defense on his way to a 31-yard run during the first quarter of Saturday’s 20-14 win. Matt Perloff. (click for larger version)
September 05, 2011
PLYMOUTH — Monadnock made the Plymouth Regional High School football team's season opener an interesting one, but the Bobcats wouldn't let them play spoilers in the process.

Taylor Newberry ran for two touchdowns and the Bobcat defense grounded the Huskies' air attack as Plymouth came away with the 20-14 win Saturday afternoon at Zoulias Field.

The Bobcats (1-0) had to overcome an early deficit and late push by Monadnock (0-1), but turned almost every passing effort they made against them to open the 2011 season on a positive note.

The game started promisingly, with Newberry going 25 yards to open the first drive of the game, but Monadnock's line held them back on the next four plays, including a stop for no gain on fourth down to force a turnover on downs at the Monadnock 41. The Huskies made a couple small gains to open their drive, but they'd deal the first big blow of the day when Will Kitterman got the ball off to Jessie Lieby, who found an opening down the right side of the field and charged 51 yards for the touchdown. They'd follow it up with an extra point kick, putting Plymouth in a 7-0 hole less than four minutes in.

Neither team would have a fruitful outing on their next possessions, though Plymouth looked poised for a big drive when Brendan Goodale took a punt return deep into Monadnock territory, only to have a penalty called that brought the ball all the way back to Plymouth's own 27. The scenario only looked worse as the Bobcats fell back to the 24 on third down and 13, but their luck turned around when Newberry leaped clear of a pair of Monadnock defenders, clearing 31 yards before finally getting taken down at the Huskies' 45. Brandon Goodale kept up the offensive burst as he hurdled his way to a 23-yard run on the next carry, while Newberry finished off on the next play with a 22-yard sprint down the visitors' sideline, putting Plymouth on the board. Will Melanson topped it off with an extra point kick, tying the game at seven with just seconds left in the first quarter.

The Huskies opened the second quarter on their own 19 and managed to squeak out a first down, but their momentum stalled when Nick Reisert tackled Jacob Dubios in the backfield for a three-yard loss. Still 10 yards short on third down, Monadnock tried to go to the air, but the pass soared right into the hands of Jared Kuehl, who took it all the way back to the end zone to put the Bobcats ahead. Melanson delivered another kick through the uprights, making it a 14-7 game early in the second quarter.

Plymouth got the ball back on a punt nearly four minutes later, starting at their own 28. They needed just two plays to cover the distance, first as Will Horan connected with Nick Reisert for a 40-yard pass, then Newberry carrying the final 32 yards on the next play for the touchdown. Melanson's kick fell short, but Plymouth still held the 20-7 lead.

Monadnock opened their next drive with a struggle to get the first down, taking the plunge on fourth down as Jake Poulin fell through the middle for the one yard they needed. It was all for naught a play later as the Huskies went to the air again; receiver Keegan White took a swipe at the ball, giving it enough time in the air for Brady Goodwin to get under it for the interception.

Plymouth made one last push to score before halftime, starting again at their own 28. Horan and Reisert would hook up again for a 36-yard gain, then Goodale went four yards on the ground before Horan passed to Kyle Reisert, who made the diving catch for another 19 yards to reach the Monadnock 12 with 39 seconds to go. Horan moved it down to the 10, but Newberry was stopped in the backfield for a big loss. Running out of time, the Bobcats would try for a field goal as time expired, though the 34-yard attempt by Melanson landed short, leaving it 20-7 at halftime.

Plymouth opened the second half on the defensive, but Monadnock couldn't put together anything and soon punted to the Bobcats, who started their drive on their own 44. Newberry, Brooker and Goodale got the ball moving with nearly 30 yards on the first four plays of the drive, and in seven were all the way down to the Monadnock nine yard line. The Bobcats again couldn't find the opening they needed to reach the end zone, and on fourth down made another field goal attempt. The snap was low and wide, however, and the kick was ultimately blocked.

Defense dominated the remainder of the game, with neither team's offense making much progress heading into the fourth quarter. It wasn't until the middle of the final frame when Monadnock fired back, stopping Plymouth deep in its own territory and having the fourth down punt bounce backwards, getting downed just 20 yards short of the end zone. They were down to the one yard line after two plays, and despite getting denied twice as they tried to cross the line, they'd finally break through on third down, getting the touchdown and the extra point to make it 20-14 with just under four minutes left.

Plymouth managed to reach midfield on their next possession after a 22-yard carry by Goodale, but a delay of game penalty on fourth down pushed them to punt. The snap rolled back to Newberry, who tried to run with it but was brought down at Plymouth's 41 yard line.

That left the Bobcats' fate up to their defense, having 88 seconds left to keep the Huskies from making the game-tying – and potentially game-winning - advance. Getting just two yards on their first play and giving up another down to stop the clock, the Huskies tried to go to the air to cover some ground fast. The Bobcats wouldn't even let them try, sacking the quarterback not once, but twice in a row, slamming him to the ground on fourth down to force a turnover 12 yards behind the original line of scrimmage. Plymouth only needed to run out the clock from there, taking a knee on the next two plays to lock up the 20-14 win.

Newberry finished with 120 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries, while Horan racked up over 100 total yards, 95 coming on perfect 3-for-3 passing. Goodale finished with 81 yards on 13 carries, while Brooker notched 28 yards on five carries.

The defense also came through big for Plymouth, especially keeping the passing game from doing any damage. Big contributors included Kuehl and Goodwin with their interceptions, John Thomas and Cody Oesch with the late sacks to stifle the Huskies' final run, as well as efforts from Brooker, Horan, Ryan Farina, Nick and Kyle Reisert, Calime Littlefield, Corbin Boucher, Dakoda Simula, Matt Bownes, Nick D'Ambruoso and Nate Williams.

The win is a promising start for a team looking to bounce back from a rebuilding year in 2010, when they finished 5-4 and missed the playoffs despite remaining one of the division's most competitive teams. While they've lost the leadership that helped keep last year's squad in the thick of the playoff hunt, they return to the gridiron with several seasoned starters and another shot at the playoffs in a strong Division IV field.

Plymouth returns to action under the lights Friday night, traveling to Wolfeboro to face Kingswood at 7 p.m.

Varney Smith
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