How good was the Winnisquam Regional High football team’s defense Saturday night? Good enough to outscore Fall Mountain of Langdon in the Division IV championship game at Laconia High School.
Top-seeded Winnisquam came up with five turnovers in its 20-0 victory over third-seeded Fall Mountain, one of which was a fumble that cornerback Gunnar Horman picked up and returned 67 yards for the game’s first touchdown.
“That gave us a lot of momentum,” Winnisquam coach Derek Hunt said. “We needed something like that because on their first two drives they were moving it on us.
“Our defense took us out of jams. We had a bad punt that gave them great field position and a turnover at the end of the first half when we coughed it up around our own 20 and our defense stepped up and stopped them. We gave them good field position three times on offensive miscues.”
The Bears from Tilton held Fall Mountain (6-3) to 162 yards of offense. Winnisquam (9-0) allowed 26 points in its last six games, including seven points in its two playoff games.
Winnisquam also scored on two touchdown passes from quarterback Phil Nichols to receiver Garret Mango. Mango caught a 55-yard TD pass to help make it 14-0 with 11:09 left in the second quarter, and hauled in a 36-yard TD pass with 4:21 to play. Mango also had an interception in the victory.
Nichols completed 11 of 16 passes for 183 yards. Winnisquam, which also won last year’s Division IV championship, extended the state’s longest winning streak to 18 games.
Running back Izaak Westover led the Fall Mountain offense with 86 yards on 22 carries. The Wildcats received three sacks from defensive end Alex Flynn.
Fall Mountain, which entered the contest with a six-game winning streak, reached the playoffs for the first time since 1994 this season. It was the second time the Wildcats have played in a championship game. Plymouth beat Fall Mountain 42-0 in the 1977 Division III title game.
Winnisquam outscored its opponents 357-86 this season. The Bears beat the Wildcats 33-14 during the regular season. Both Fall Mountain touchdowns in that game came on kickoff returns. Winnisquam will move to Division III next season.
“I didn’t feel comfortable until we scored our third touchdown,” Hunt said. “It was a defensive game, and a great Division IV game with two good teams.”