LONDONDERRY — After a prolonged drought, the Londonderry High School football team is heading back to the Division I championship game.
The Lancers, who have overwhelmed teams with offense all season, did it again Saturday, when they extended their season by a game with a 35-14 triumph over Salem in the Division I semifinals.
The victory raised Londonderry’s record to 11-0 and earned the Lancers a date with Exeter (10-1) in next Sunday’s Division I title game at the University of New Hampshire’s Wildcat Stadium (6 p.m.). It will be the first time Londonderry has played in the Division I championship game since 2001, when it lost to Manchester Central 28-7.
Exeter, the No. 2 seed in the East/West bracket, advanced by beating Merrimack 34-13 in Saturday’s other Division I semifinal.
“We’re finally going to the state championship,” Londonderry quarterback Jake McEachern said. “Salem’s a good team — they really are. Just a good bunch of guys. I’m just so proud of what our team did today. It’s great having a bunch of guys who can run and catch the ball.”
McEachern ran for 180 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries against the Blue Devils (8-3). He also completed 5 of 10 passes for 76 yards and two TDs (one interception).
McEachern’s 4-yard pass to Cole Keegan opened the scoring with 4:04 left in the first quarter. He also tossed an 11-yard TD pass to Keegan to help the Lancers, the top-seeded team in the North/South bracket, increase their lead to 21-7 with 8:16 left in the third.
McEachern, a senior who was Londonderry’s backup QB last season, scored the game’s final TD on a 66-yard run with 11:20 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“He’s unbelievable,” Salem coach Rob Pike said. “He’s a great athlete. I think coming into the year a lot of people didn’t know what they were going to have there at that spot because they had Cormier (quarterback Evan Cormier) last year, but he’s been awesome. He runs this offense really, really well. He makes all the right reads. He’s fast. He breaks tackles. He can put it on the money passing. He’s a great player.”
Londonderry also received two rushing touchdowns from running back Jeff Wiedenfeld, who gained 105 yards on 22 carries. The Lancers have scored 510 points in their 11 games. The 35 points they put on the scoreboard against Salem matched their lowest total of the season.
The Blue Devils scored on a 9-yard run by halfback Josh Maroun that helped make it a 7-7 game in the second quarter, and on a 5-yard pass from quarterback Kaleb Bates to Michael Ferrence in the fourth. Ference’s TD catch plus Jake Brady’s PAT pulled Salem within 14 points (28-14), but McEachern’s 66-yard TD run came on the third play of the ensuing possession and sent many of the Salem fans to their cars.
“We’re headed to UNH next week and we’re very excited about it,” Londonderry coach Jimmy Lauzon said. “Being the favorite or the underdog … it doesn’t really matter. You just have to play better for 48 minutes. Our guys still don’t feel like people respect them enough, and so they had something to prove.”
Londonderry will face an Exeter team that has won six in a row since its only loss — a 31-28 setback to Nashua North.
“One week at a time,” McEachern said. “We need a great week of practice and we’ll be there ready.”