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NHIAA Football: Goffstown stops Bedford

Special to the Union Leader

October 08. 2017 2:32AM
Goffstown's Andrew Duval runs into the endzone to score a touchdown vs. Bedford in the first half of their game at Goffstown High School Saturday. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)

GOFFSTOWN - Come crunch time, Goffstown's defense made some significant noise - loud pops heard over a hoarse crowd of about 1,000 spectators - in a 21-7 victory over neighbor Bedford on Saturday afternoon.

Goffstown's defensive line and linebackers huffed and puffed before crucial plays only to make snap, crackle and crunch breakfast cereal sounds while controlling the line of scrimmage and potentially silencing the Bulldogs' playoff hopes.

Goffstown (5-1) entered this Division I North Division matchup as the No. 4 team in the Union Leader Power Poll, while defending state champion Bedford (3-3) was ranked No. 8.

The Grizzlies' defensive line of Adam Moses, Joshua Picard and Evan Cuddy, some 850 pounds of muscle and will power, sacked Bedford quarterback Thomas Morgan five times while making five tackles behind the line of scrimmage. When Bedford's line managed to move Goffstown's bulk, linebackers Justin Pinard, Joey Poisson and Jake Brown stuffed holes, holding runners to gains of two yards or less on 13 plays.

The loudest crunches occurred while twice turning back Bedford in the red zone to maintain Goffstown's two-touchdown lead, secured as quarterback Charles Keith threw three touchdown passes, one to nimble-footed Jared Heidenreich, who came down inbounds after stretching to make the catch in the front corner of the end zone; and two on sideline screen passes to the ever-elusive senior flanker Andrew Duval, who jitterbugged to paydirt on plays covering 28 and 38 yards.

"We wanted to keep up the pressure on their quarterback and show him how varsity football is played," said Moses. Morgan, a junior, was forced out of his starting defensive position to play quarterback after three-year starting QB Connor Robert broke his collarbone last weekend in a loss to Exeter.

Morgan completed 12 of 23 passes for 130 yards and rushed for 44 yards on 13 carries. He was forced out of the pocket and had to scramble for yards five times. Goffstown corners Coleman Handrahan and Carter Chouinard each intercepted a pass late in the fourth quarterback

"Their line was very big and large. The linebackers were smart, physical players and they gave us the most havoc," said Bedford coach Derek Stank. "Our new quarterback hasn't seen a lot of play at game speed. His decision making was slow, kind of a deer in the headlights thing. But, I thought he did well given the situation."

Goffstown scored first on Heidenreich's touchdown catch with 53.7 seconds left in the first quarter. The lead doubled on the first of Duval's touchdown receptions with 11:13 remaining in the first half. On each reception he patiently followed blockers before accelerating to overdrive while juking or bowling over defenders.

"I kind of saw the hole and took it," said Duval with an earnest grin. "It's fun to run through a hole with my blockers and the start making defenders miss."

Bedford cut the lead in half with 6:32 before intermission. On fourth and 2 from the 22-yard line, Morgan lofted a pass toward the end zone where Noah Chaberek (three catches for 36 yards) leaped and broke free of his defender for the touchdown reception.

It was anyone's game until midway through the third quarter, when Brad Baxter blocked a Bedford punt. Two plays later, Duval scored from 38 yards out on a sideline screen, making it 21-7.

"It was stressful until then," said Keith who completed 5 of 7 passes for 146 yards and rushed for 55 yards. Jake Stinnett added 75 yards rushing. "And then, the defense took over. They've been playing great all season."

The Bulldogs, a bit tired as many players were forced to play both ways, couldn't match Goffstown's defensive prowess in the fourth quarter.

"We were dead tired but wanted to make some noise when it counted most," said Cuddy. "We take pride in playing through being tired."

Goffstown's Jack Stinnett is tackled by Bedford defenders Daniel Hawkins, left, and Andrew Twite in the first half of their game at Goffstown High School on Saturday. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)

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