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Bears claw Mascoma, 34-6



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Parker Normand looks to evade a Mascoma tackler during Winnisquam’s 34-6 win on Saturday. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
September 19, 2011
TILTON – The carousel of quarterbacks continued for the Winnisquam Regional High School football team on Saturday. Luckily for the Bears, the running game more than carried the load.

With starting QB Austin Hunt out with a concussion and Nathan Foster unable to throw due to a hand injury suffered during week one, it was junior Curtis Archibald's turn under center. Thanks to a balanced rushing attack that totaled 266 yards on the ground and a dominant defensive effort, Archibald was forced to attempt just one pass (he completed it to Zach Plourde for 11 yards) en route to a dominating 34-6 Winnisquam victory over visiting Mascoma Valley in Division VI action at the Route 132 Field.

"We're banged up as a team right now, we've got some key kids down," said Winnisquam head coach Pat Riberdy. "I was a little nervous about our offense going into the game but the guys did a nice job and we were able to run the ball pretty well."

Riberdy talked with Archibald during the week about taking over the QB duties, and the junior overcame some shaky first quarter snaps and settled in for the victory.

"(Curtis has) never really (played quarterback) before," said Riberdy. "I just told him, 'Listen, here's an opportunity for you. No pressure, but if you think you can handle it, let's try it.' And he just said he had no problem with that and he'd do the best he could. The team was behind him and it worked out for us."

The Bears (2-1 overall) relied on a trio of runners to carry the load, as Hunter Karwocki (15 carries, 70 yards), Parker Normand (12 carries, 74 yards) and Justin Serrano (eight carries, 81 yards) all had touchdowns in the win. Karwocki and Normand each scored twice for the Bears.

Winnisquam's offense showed it had no problems moving the ball right off the bat, as the team marched to the Mascoma seven-yard line before turning it over on downs. The Bears got it back quickly however, as Eoin Audet recovered a fumble at the Mascoma 10 and three plays later, Serrano bulled in for a three-yard score to put his team up 6-0 with 2:09 left in the first quarter.

Karwocki added to the lead early in the second, as he was initially stopped but kept his legs moving and crossed the goal line from seven yards out to bump the advantage to 14-0 after a Normand two-point conversion.

Karwocki rounded out the first half scoring less than four minutes later, as the junior tailback dove in up the middle from a yard out to put Winnisquam up 20-0 with 6:26 left in the half. The Bears would take that lead into the locker room.

While the offense did a solid job in the game's first 24 minutes, it was the defense that put on a show against Mascoma. Winnisquam held the Royals to just one first down and 11 yards of offense in the first half, and lineman Jacob Fuller also sniffed out a fake punt, stopping Mascoma in the backfield.

"Defense was kind of our goal this week," said Riberdy. "We moved some things around a little bit, used some different schemes. Since we weren't sure what to expect from the offense, we were counting on the defense and they did a heck of a job."

Normand scored twice in the second half on touchdown runs of one and 29 yards, while Thomas Mahoney recovered a fumble to pace the Bears defense after intermission. Mascoma got its lone score when the Royals recovered a muffed punt on the Winnisquam one yard-line late in the third quarter and ran it in on the next play to cut the deficit at the time to 26-6.

The Bears now set their sights on a huge league game on Saturday, when the team travels for its first away game of the season at Gilford High School. The Golden Eagles, which dropped to an identical 2-1 record after falling to Franklin High School last week, also beat up on Mascoma earlier this season in a 42-0 win over the Royals. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at Gilford Meadows.

"It's a big game for us," admitted Riberdy. "We've got to get healthy this week because Gilford is a big-play team. They've got a solid running back in (Brendon) Murphy so we've got to contain him, first and foremost."

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