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CHaD All-Star Football Game: West is the best, barely

New Hampshire Union Leader

July 01. 2018 12:17AM
Team West's Thomas Norfleet, of Bedford, leaps over Team East defender Hunter Adams, of Portsmouth. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)

DURHAM - Things didn't look good for the West after Goffstown High School's Andrew Duval muffed a punt late in the third quarter of Saturday's CHaD East-West New Hampshire All-Star Football Game at the University of New Hampshire.

The East's Tim Bouchard (St. Thomas) pounced on the ball and one play later Portsmouth quarterback Cody Graham connected with Bouchard for a 23-yard touchdown pass that gave the East a six-point lead.

Duval, New Hampshire's Gatorade Player of the Year last season, more than made up for his mistake, however. He scored what turned out to be the game-winning TD on a 7-yard run with 4:28 to play in the West's 24-20 triumph.

"He was was pretty down on the sideline," West coach Eric Brown (Concord) said. "We told him, 'Forget about it. Move on to the next thing.' We talked about how there were going to be some high points and some low points and it's going to be how we stay together as a team during the low points that's gonna make the difference. ... and it made a difference. We made some good plays at the end."

Duval, who will play for UNH next season, finished the game with 181 all-purpose yards: 49 rushing, 32 receiving, 86 on kickoff returns and 14 on punt returns. He was also used extensively at defensive back.

"I was very motivated after that (the fumble)," Duval said. "I had to get back with the ball and do my thing. It felt really good to get in the end zone. When I got in there I got filled with emotions. It was a great experience. Great time. Great week."

After Bouchard's TD, Duval returned the ensuing kickoff 54 yards. That drive ended with a 33-yard field goal from Moises Celaya (Hanover) that trimmed the East lead to 20-17 with seven seconds left in the third quarter.

The game-winning TD was set up when a bad snap led to an East punt of minus 3 yards that allowed the West to begin a drive on its own 45-yard line.

"I think we had the game if we could have pinned them late," East coach Craig Kozens (Laconia) said. "That punt. ... it would have been huge if we could have given them a 90-yard field with five (minutes) to play."

The West opened the scoring on a 35-yard TD run by Bedford's Connor Robert. The West's other TD came on a 5-yard pass from Nashua South quarterback Sean Holland to Plymouth's Garrett Macomber on the first drive of the third quarter.

Graham tossed three TD passes to highlight the East's offensive performance. Dover's John Cantwell caught a 20-yard TD pass to help make it a 7-7 game in the second quarter, and Spaulding's Mitchell Stokes hauled in a 12-yard TD pass to help the East take a 14-7 lead with 37 seconds remaining in the first half.

East running back Josh Sibanda gained a game-high 105 yards on 19 carries.

"He was probably the best back I've seen in this game," Kozens said. "He ran the ball hard. His speed at times was a difference and his toughness at times was a difference. If that kid was 6-2 he'd be going anywhere in the country."

The West's final scoring drive covered 55 yards in five plays. Duval and Merrimack running back/slot receiver Joe Eichman each touched the ball twice on the drive. Eichman will also play for UNH next season.

"We just wanted to give them a little dose of those guys and see what happened," Brown said. "Pretty good players we have."

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