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Trinity rallies late to stun Bobcats



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Plymouth’s Taylor Newberry stays clear of Trinity’s defenders as he runs the ball in the second quarter of Saturday’s 12-7 loss. Matt Perloff. (click for larger version)
September 26, 2011
PLYMOUTH — The Plymouth Regional High School football team nearly took down one of its biggest rivals in thrilling showdown this past weekend, but while they may have solidified their status as contenders, the win was not to be.

The Bobcats scored early and clung to the lead into the final seconds of play, but Trinity High School rallied down the stretch as Plymouth took a 12-7 loss Saturday afternoon at Zoulias Field.

The Bobcats (3-1) struck first and were able to keep the Pioneers (4-0) at bay for most of the game, but red zone struggles kept Plymouth from pulling away, and Trinity rallied with two touchdowns in the final five minutes to win the battle between two of Division IV's top teams.

Plymouth was shut out in their first meeting with Trinity last year, but this time around they'd be the first on the board. The Bobcats opened their second drive of the day at their own 45, then worked their way downfield as Will Horan handed off to Taylor Newberry, Cole Brooker and Brandon Goodale. Goodale would finish off the drive with the biggest run of the day, going untouched on a 15-yard sprint into the end zone. Will Melanson came in to kick the extra point, putting Plymouth on the board, 7-0.

The Bobcats looked poised to score again on their next drive, starting at midfield and fueled by a pair of double-digit gains by Newberry to get inside Trinity's 10-yard line. Goodale then ran five yards to reach the Trinity four, but he'd go down injured on the play, taking him out of the game. The Bobcats ran the ball twice more, but they still had two yards left on fourth down. After a false start penalty set them another five yards back, Plymouth decided to go for the field goal, but the kick was blocked, giving Trinity possession.

Plymouth got one more chance to score in the first half, taking possession on their own 46 in the final three and a half minutes. The Bobcats got going as Horan connected with Nick Reisert for a 16-yard gain, then Newberry and Brooker ate up nearly 30 yards on the ground as the Bobcats set up deep in the red zone with less than half a minute to go. Plymouth went to the air to finish the drive fast, but after two incomplete passes, the Bobcats would fumble the snap on third down, with Trinity pouncing on the loose ball to end the threat.

Trinity threatened early in the second half, starting just behind midfield and moving deep into Plymouth territory. The Bobcats derailed that momentum by forcing three straight losses, capped when Trinity's quarterback tried to lateral the ball after nearly getting sacked, only for his target to get wiped out by Jared Kuehl for a six-yard loss. Two penalties, including a personal foul for 15 yards, ultimately left Trinity with fourth down and 35, resulting in a punt.

Plymouth got another big opportunity to pull away early in the fourth. Trinity was deep in its own territory when what should have been a big gain collapsed when the ball carrier fumbled, with Kuehl making the recover to set up an attack at the Pioneers' 34 yard line. Newberry brought it into the red zone with a 17-yard run, then Brooker took back-to-back handoffs for a combined 12 yards to get the ball all the way down to the two yard line. Plymouth couldn't finish off the drive though, getting pushed back on two plays and managing only a yard on the third before choosing to go for the field goal on fourth down. A penalty would push the ball back another five yards, but while the subsequent kick still had the distance, it would sail wide of the uprights, leaving it 7-0.

With just over four minutes to go, Trinity finally struck back. They opened the drive at their own 20, but needed just one play to cover the distance as Trinity's Carman Giampetruzzi connected on a short pass to Josh Hughes, who was left open after a failed block and marched 80 yards for the touchdown. The Pioneers went for the two-point conversion, however, and Plymouth stopped the attempt to keep their lead alive, 7-6.

Plymouth regained possession and ate up time and yards as they looked to put the game away, but fell short on fourth down and two to turn the ball over at Trinity's 27 yard line with a minute and 24 seconds to go. The Pioneers made a couple quick gains before spiking the ball to stop the clock at 46.8 seconds, then added another 10 before stopping the clock again at 38.6. A false start set them back five yards, but after the next pass went incomplete, Giampetruzzi lobbed a pass up the middle to Andrew Lauderdale, who hauled it in and finished off the 48-yard reception for the go-ahead touchdown. Though Melanson stopped the two-point conversion, the Bobcats suddenly faced a 12-7 deficit with less than 20 seconds to go. The Bobcats started their next possession at their own 30, but their only move forward was a 15-yard completion from Horan to Kyle Reisert, saddling Plymouth with the loss.

Newberry took over 30 carries for close to 140 yards while Brooker took nine handoffs for 40 yards. Goodale had seven carries for 36 yards and a touchdown before leaving in the second quarter. Horan finished the day with three completions on nine attempts, racking up 34 yards in the air.

Defensively, the Bobcats caught plenty of help all over the field, including Kuehl, Nick and Kyle Reisert, John Thomas and Ryan Farina, as well as Corbin Boucher, Matt Bownes, Nick D'Ambruoso, Calime Littlefield, Jon Hughes and Will Melanson.

Despite the loss, the Bobcats' further solidified their status among Division IV's top teams, nearly defeating a team that soundly defeated them the year before, and remains one of the league's strongest programs; even so, they still have plenty of challenges to test their standing as they approach the second half of the season. Plymouth will look to bounce back on the road Friday night, taking on Hanover under the lights at 7 p.m.

AJ Coleman
Varney Smith
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