NHIAA Football Playoffs: Franklin, Mascoma post Div. VI victories
FRANKLIN - The scores might have told a different tale, but the two high school football games Campbell of Litchfield and Franklin played this year followed a similar script.
And, unfortunately for the Cougars, the ending was exactly the same.
Second-seeded Franklin advanced to the Division IV championship with a 14-10 win over No. 3 Campbell, 14-10, Saturday at Roger Martin Field.
Kody Benwell (21 carries, 85 yards) scored his second touchdown of the game on a one-yard plunge with 8:18 left in the fourth quarter to put Franklin ahead for the first time.
The Golden Tornadoes (8-2) move on to play top-seeded Mascoma Valley of Canaan, a 42-6 winner Saturday over No. 4 Newfound High of Bristol, in next Saturday's championship game.
Franklin will be playing for the fourth title in program history and the first since 2008. The Golden Tornadoes will be making their fourth trip to the championship game in eight years.
Campbell (7-3) went up 10-0 when junior running back Jesiah Wade (39 carries, 244 yards) ran 62 yards to paydirt on the first offensive play of the game and Trevor Duquette kicked a 20-yard field on the Cougars' second series of the game.
Benwell made it 10-7 on the first play of the second quarter, going 15 yards after initially getting stopped at the line.
Franklin beat Campbell midway through the regular season, 33-29. And while there was considerably more scoring in that game, the games followed the same pattern. In each game, Campbell took the lead early and fumbled away opportunities to close it out late.
Franklin's winning drive Saturday was set up when two fumbles stalled a Campbell drive and a bad snap forced punter Kevin Moreau to scramble on fourth down, allowing Franklin to take over at the Campbell 36. The Tornadoes scored six plays later.
Franklin's defensive plan, which included moving Jake Jameson from safety to defensive end, reduced Campbell's one and only offensive option to Wade, who ran on 39 of the team's 53 plays from scrimmage. He gained his yards, but the Golden Tornadoes were able to key on him, holding him to 76 yards in the second half.
As good as Wade has been this year - he had 33 touchdowns and over 2,000 yards rushing during the regular season - holding on to the ball has been a problem and that didn't change Saturday. Wade fumbled the ball four times in the second half, once on a punt return, and lost it twice.
When the Cougars were forced into passing situations in the second half, the results were not good: junior quarterback Christian McKenna was 0-for-2 with an interception and was sacked three times, twice on fourth down.
Mascoma 42, Newfound 6
The Royals (8-2) pinned a 43-7 loss on the Bears (6-4) three weeks ago and didn't change strategy Saturday. They lined up in their double-wing offense and dared Newfound to stop them.
The Bears couldn't.
Kyle Kosiorek ran for 151 yards and two touchdowns, Mike Seiffert picked up 61 yards and two touchdowns and Eddie Bianco 42 yards and one touchdown on four carries. Kosiorek also caught a 10-yard scoring pass from Zach Warner.
The game was moved from Canaan to Hanover High because Mascoma's field was unplayable.
"They're predictable, they just pound, pound, pound away and keep moving the ball," Newfound coach Greg Dalzell said. "What was different this time was the number of mistakes we made."
The Bears were intercepted five times - twice inside the Mascoma 20 - and lost one fumble.
"We can't win a game that way," Dalzell said. " We shot ourselves in the foot with our mistakes."
Warner had two interceptions, while Chris Sanborn had one interception and seven tackles.
The Royals, 2-7 a year ago, are in the championship game for the first time.
"The kids are on cloud nine," Mascoma coach Ray Kershaw said.