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Bobcats cruise past Laconia

Plymouth’s Nick Reisert scores off a pass from Will Horan for one of his two touchdown receptions in Saturday’s 35-14 win over Laconia. Matt Perloff. (click for larger version)
October 10, 2011
PLYMOUTH — The Plymouth Regional High School football team prevailed in another big challenge this past week, scoring twice in the first quarter and never looking back in a 35-14 win over Laconia Saturday afternoon at Zoulias Field.

Plymouth (5-1) and Laconia (4-2) never seem to meet without something on the line, and Saturday was no different as the teams arrived on the gridiron tied for second place. The Bobcats scored on every first half possession and shut the Sachems down in the second half, avenging last year's loss and setting up a strong position for the fast-approaching postseason.

Plymouth's opening drive started slow, but Cole Brooker got things moving as he outmaneuvered Laconia's defense on a 28-yard carry, while Taylor Newberry followed up by plowing 20 yards up the middle to set up action inside Laconia's red zone. After another first down to set up first and goal at the Laconia six, Newberry was pushed up the middle to the one-yard line, where Will Horan took it in himself for the touchdown. Will Melanson delivered the extra-point kick, putting Plymouth up 7-0 less than five minutes in.

Laconia's offense managed nothing in its first trip to the field, punting to the Plymouth 41. Brooker and Newberry again delivered the momentum with big gains, eventually setting up first and goal on the Laconia five. Newberry would take it in three plays later, rushing up the middle from a yard out for the touchdown and 14-0 lead after Melanson's extra point.

Laconia bounced back on its next possession. Fueled by David Mahoney's 41-yard run to open the drive, they'd make steady gains the rest of the way before wrapping up on a six-yard touchdown carry by Mahoney, followed by an extra point kick to make it 14-7 midway through the second quarter. Plymouth's next drive was slow, slowly picking up one first down and eventually facing third and long when Horan went to the air, with Kyle Reisert taking the pass up the middle and sprinting nearly 50 yards before getting taken down at the two-yard line. Newberry finished things off on the next play, rushing up the middle for the touchdown and a 21-7 lead after Melanson's kick.

Laconia's passing game had its own tricks to perform as the Sachems' offense took the field again. They'd open the drive with a 30-yard connection, but it was Scott Ruggieri's pass to Jon Daniszewski two plays later that provided the biggest gain. Though Plymouth was able to take Daniszewski down, he'd toss the ball up just as teammate David Mahoney sprinted by, hauling it in and dodging Bobcat defenders until finally getting taken down two yards shy of the end zone. The hook and ladder ultimately paid off, as Mahoney crossed the goal line on the next play to put Laconia back within a touchdown, 21-14.

Only a minute remained before halftime, but that was plenty of time for the Bobcats to strike again. Jared Kuehl ran the kick return all the way to Plymouth's 41 yard line, then Horan opened the drive with a 24-yard pass to Brooker. Though Horan's next attempt to Nick Reisert fell incomplete, Newberry would take the following handoff for 24 yards, then Horan and Reisert connected successfully on the second try, taking it into the end zone on an 11-yard reception. Melanson connected on the extra point kick, giving the Bobcats a 28-14 advantage.

Laconia tried one more quick drive in the final 20 seconds of the half. It looked like they might do it when Daniszewski received a pass and kept the Bobcat defense scrambling to catch him, but he didn't count on Corbin Boucher coming in from behind, bringing down the Sachem receiver to end the half.

Laconia received the kickoff to open the second half and tried to pick up right where they left off. They spent nearly half the quarter working their way downfield, eventually getting inside Plymouth's 10 yard line, but the effort collapsed when the Sachems reached third down and tried to pass, as Nick Reisert leapt in to make the interception at the three yard line, once again quelling Laconia's momentum.

Plymouth's next drive was over on three plays, but Laconia fared even worse after taking over possession, losing their lead running back to an injury and eventually punting from their own end zone. Plymouth took over at Laconia's 36 yard line, then made four short gains on the ground. Nick Reisert took another pass from Horan, staying on his feet despite getting pushed and spun all the way to the end zone to complete the 25-yard touchdown reception.

The Bobcats continued to dominate down the stretch. Laconia needed big gains as their chances of a comeback ran out, but couldn't get anything going on the ground or in the air as they were forced to punt on their next possession. Plymouth drained four minutes off the clock before punting it back to the Sachems, but only had to wait for them to try another pass before getting it back, as Newberry made a leaping interception to put the Bobcats back in control. Though they'd get the ball down to Laconia's 11 yard line, they chose to kneel with less than two minutes remaining, running out the clock and locking up a 35-14 win.

Horan connected on four of five passing attempts for over 100 yards, throwing two touchdowns and rushing for one. Newberry led the ground attack with nearly 120 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries, while Brooker pounded his way through Laconia's defense for over 80 yards on nine attempts. Kuehl and Thomas each finished with about 30 yards, while Goodale, in his first game back from injury, took five carries for 16 yards.

The defense also came through big again, including big days for Nick and Kyle Reisert, Brooker, Newberry, Kuehl, Colin Sullivan and linemen Boucher, Calime Littlefield, Nick Blake and Nick D'Ambruoso.

The win will play a key role in the Division IV playoff race, as Plymouth now holds the advantage over contenders Laconia, Kennett and Monadnock (all 4-2) for home field advantage in the opening round. The Bobcats also have the worst of their schedule out of the way, having already faced every team in D4 with a winning record, while only Merrimack Valley (1-5), Lebanon (2-4) and John Stark (2-4) remain. Excluding Kingswood, the three teams are a combined 0-10 against teams Plymouth has already faced.

The Bobcats will be in Penacook this week for their final Friday night game of the year, taking on Merrimack Valley at 7 p.m.

Salmon Press
Martin Lord Osman
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