NASHUA — Earlier this week Nashua South football coach Scott Knight said his team needed a signature victory. The Panthers got one Friday night.
South scored on each of its first three second-half possessions and handed Exeter a 28-6 setback at Stellos Stadium.
South trailed 6-0 at halftime, but its big third quarter began when quarterback Trevor Knight (Scott's son) scored on a 73-yard run. South added a 24-yard TD pass from Knight to Jesse Clauss with 7:20 left in the third, and then Knight scored South's third TD from a yard away with 4:11 remaining in the quarter.
The key plays in South's third scoring drive were two passes from Knight to Robbie Smyth. The first covered 20 yards, and the second was a 24-yard pass that put the ball on the Exeter 1.
South capped the scoring on Collin Morrow's 1-yard run and Ryan Guidaboni's fourth PAT kick with 3:01 remaining in regulation. The TD was set up by Knight's 63-yard run down to the Exeter 1.
"All it took was a couple plays to wake us up," Scott Knight said. "It just took a little while to get into the groove. We were out of sync in the first half."
Knight finished the game with 189 yards rushing on 19 carries. He also completed 13 of 29 passes for 168 yards.
"To be honest I didn't know where we stood (in Division I)," Trevor Knight said. "I was really anxious coming into this game to see where we were at. It feels good knowing we can compete with the best teams."
South, the No. 3 team in this week's Union Leader/WGIR/WMUR Power Poll, raised its record to 5-0. No. 5 Exeter dropped to 3-2.
The Blue Hawks were coming off last Saturday's 21-14 overtime loss to Bishop Guertin.
It's the first time Exeter has lost back-to-back games since the end of the 2010 regular season.
Exeter built a 6-0 halftime lead on two Matt Oppici field goals. Both kicks followed a mistake by Nashua South.
Oppici made a 24-yard field goal four plays after linebacker Ryan Kelly intercepted a Knight pass and gave the Blue Hawks the ball on the South 11.
Oppici's second field goal — a 36-yarder with 7:35 left in the half — was set up when Exeter's Jay Inzenga blocked a South punt that gave the Blue Hawks the ball on the South 26.
"We were making simple mistakes that you can't make in a big game against Exeter," Trevor Knight said. "We just had to pick it up and execute in the second half."