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NHIAA Football: Merrimack now 2-0

New Hampshire Union Leader

September 08. 2018 12:09AM

MANCHESTER — It was no work of art, but the Merrimack High School football team’s 37-6 triumph over Manchester Memorial on Friday night gave the Tomahawks two victories in as many games this season, so at least the team’s record looks good.

Merrimack had three touchdowns called back, reached double digits in penalties and turned the ball over three times in the second half. Still, the outcome was never in doubt.

The Tomahawks led 14-0 after one quarter, 20-0 at halftime and 28-6 after three quarters.

“I’m speechless,” Merrimack coach Kip Jackson said. “That was one of the ugliest games I’ve ever seen in high school. It was just … ugly. You can’t play that way if you want to be a good team.”

Tristan Wood (9-yard run), Adam Thornton (17-yard run) and Zach Twardosky (4-yard pass from junior quarterback James Dowling) provided Merrimack with its first-half touchdowns. The Tomahawks scored on a 49-yard pass from Dowling to Garrett Murray in the third quarter, and on a 6-yard run by Dowling in the fourth. Merrimack also blocked a punt that resulted in a safety in the fourth quarter.

Memorial’s performance wasn’t pretty either. The Crusaders, who were coming off an 18-14 loss to Keene in their opener, struggled to move the ball all night.

The Memorial highlights came early in the third quarter. The Crusaders showed some signs of life by recovering an onside kick to start the second half, and then scored their only TD on an 80-yard interception return by Tyrique Noel that ended Merrimack’s first offensive possession in the third quarter. Noel’s touchdown sliced Merrimack’s lead to 20-6.

Collin Lafleur also intercepted a Ben Eichman pass on Merrimack’s second possession of the third quarter. Eichman lofted the ball into the end zone after receiving a backward pass from Dowling.

The loss stretched Memorial’s losing streak to 29 games.

“We’re really young, so it’s a lot of teaching a re-teaching,” first-year Memorial coach Rob Sturgis said. “That’s kind of the frustrating part as a coach, but it’s why we coach. The results will come. It’s just a matter of sticking to it. We’ll get there. Change the culture? We’re still fighting that.”

Merrimack, which was coming off a 41-6 victory over Goffstown last weekend, will play Central in Merrimack on Friday.

“I think it was an emotional letdown more than anything else,” Jackson said. “Probably looking ahead to facing Central rather than focusing on the team you’re going to play.”

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