GOFFSTOWN — It wasn’t a good afternoon for the offenses Saturday at Goffstown High School.
Goffstown and Manchester Central turned the ball over eight times — four turnovers by each team — during Goffstown’s closer-than-expected 13-12 victory.
The game featured seven interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
“Certainly not a thing of beauty,” Goffstown coach Justin Hufft said. “But they don’t all have to be masterpieces. To win a Division I football game I think is something you always have to earn, so I’m proud of how the kids battled.”
The Little Green’s two fourth-quarter turnovers were particularly painful. Central (1-5) trailed 13-12 and was facing fourth-and-2 from the Goffstown 15-yard line when Michael Levesque thwarted the scoring opportunity by coming up with his second interception of the game. Levesque opened the scoring when he returned an interception 85 yards in the first quarter.
Central’s final offensive possession began on the Goffstown 39-yard line with 5:09 to play, and ended after the Little Green fumbled the ball away on its first play. The Grizzles (5-1) then picked up three first downs to run out the clock.
“Both team’s defenses played great today,” Central coach Ryan Ray said. “Both team’s offenses struggled a little bit. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t have executed a little bit better on offense, but you have to give a lot of credit to the Goffstown (defense).”
All of the scoring took place in the first half. After Levesque’s TD and Kyle Pinard’s PAT kick put the Grizzlies up 7-0, Central’s Max Brown scored on a 2-yard run with 11:05 remaining in the half. The point-after kick was blocked, leaving Goffstown with a 7-6 lead.
Central went ahead 12-7 on Trevelle Randolph’s 22-yard interception return with 4:17 left in the second quarter, but Goffstown regained the lead on a 33-yard TD pass from Jarrett Henault to Peyton Strickland with 1:23 remaining in the half. The TD pass came two plays after Brad Baxter intercepted a pass that gave the Grizzlies possession on the Central 40-yard line.
All four Goffstown turnovers (all interceptions) came in the first half. The Grizzlies, who entered the game as the No. 7 team in the Union Leader Power Poll, will play at No. 1 Londonderry (6-0) Friday night.
“Second half I thought we played better,” Hufft said. “The kids came back from a rocky first half. Kids made plays. They played hard. Defensively I thought we looked a lot better today, so that was good to see.
“We weren’t quite as crisp today as we have been the last couple weeks. That happens, but I think a lot that was because of what Central was doing. (The Central defense) did a really good job. They had a good plan in place. They tackled well, and they were very opportunistic.”