A little Knight magic; Nashua South tops Central 35-28
Nashua South's Dymer Hyde eludes the attempted tackle of Central's Javen Morse Friday night at Gill Stadium. South beat Central, 35-28 on a late fourth quarter TD. (JAY REITER/UNION LEADER)
Central receiver Nick Vrastenes goes over the top of Nashua South's Patrick Goff (14) and Steve Choate for an extra couple of yards in the second quarter on Friday night at Gill Stadium. (JAY REITER/UNION LEADER)
South's Patrick Goff breaks up a pass intended for Central's Troy Pelletier in the end zone, during the Panther's 35-28 win over the Little Green Friday night. (JAY REITER/UNION LEADER)
Nashua's Patrick Goff breaks up a pass intended for Central's Troy Pellitier in the end zone. (JAY REITER/UNION LEADER)
Nashua's xSteven Choate breaks up a last second desparation pass in the end zone intended for Central's Abe Madra. The play ended the first half with Nashua ahead. (JAY REITER/UNION LEADER)
Central receiver Nick Vrastenes goes over the top of Nashua's Patrick Goff ( 14) and Steven Choate for an extra couple of yards in the second quarter. (JAY REITER/UNION LEADER)
MANCHESTER — Overtime seemed certain — until junior Trevor Knight reached the second level of Manchester Central's defense in the fourth quarter's final seconds.
Nashua South's star quarterback, surging past the line of scrimmage, raced 71 yards for the game-winning touchdown. He crossed the goal line with 12.4 seconds to play, earning the No. 8 Purple Panthers a stunning 35-28 Division I football win Friday night at Gill Stadium.
“It was just a (quarterback) draw for 5 yards. It didn't look good so I bounced to the outside. There was green,” said South's QB, who ran for 133 yards and three touchdowns, and tossed a TD to Joe Gouveia.
Dymier Hyde (17 carries, 134 yards, TD) and Steven Choate (eight carries, 58 yards) were also factors in South's rushing attack. Hyde had 94 yards after the first quarter and 123 at halftime, when his team owned a 21-14 lead.
“I thought it was going to overtime,” Central head coach Ryan Ray said two quarters later.
Fifth-ranked Central relied on its playmakers to fight back multiple times.
QB Riley Cote threw TD passes to Nick Vratsenes (27 yards), Abe Madra (13 yards) and Troy Pelletier (23 yards).
Cote's connection with Pelletier (10 catches, 94 yards) knotted the back-and-forth contest at 28-apiece in the final minute of the third quarter.
Pelletier intercepted Knight early in the fourth. The Little Green effectively moved the chains with Hector Velez (84 yards, TD) earning the bulk of the carries.
But the drive stalled, and kicked off a stretch of possessions deep in South's territory.
The Little Green started their last two drives at South's 36- and 34-yard lines, respectively. Those possessions ended with a lost fumble and punt.
Taking over at its 20, the Purple Panthers (4-2 overall, 3-1 Division I) called their QB's number for 4- and 5-yard gains. Head coach Scott Knight, the signal-caller's father, called time out before the critical third-and-1 snap.
“Obviously, that kid is a tremendous athlete,” said Ray, whose team dropped to 4-2 (3-2 Division I). “He made the biggest play of the game.”
South players celebrated on their sideline like they won a playoff game. They sure kept their postseason hopes alive.
Considering South previously lost to playoff-hopeful Concord, a slip against Central could have proven costly.
It would have left the Purple Panthers 0-2 against tournament competition — with Exeter and Pinkerton Academy of Derry still on the schedule.
“We're a scratch-and-claw team. That's the way it's got to be,” South's head coach said. “That's a great win for our program.”