BEDFORD — Goffstown had a hard time keeping the Nashua North offense out of the end zone in Saturday’s Division I championship game. The Grizzlies didn’t have much luck keeping the North defense or special teams out of the end zone either.
North scored on its first four offensive possessions, added two defensive touchdowns and returned a kickoff for a TD in its 49-21 triumph at Bedford High School.
North received three touchdowns from quarterback/defensive back Curtis Harris-Lopez, two from slot receiver/defensive back Jayden Espinal and two more from running back/defensive back Issac Smith.
Harris-Lopez opened the scoring when he returned an interception 47 yards for a touchdown on Goffstown’s opening possession, added a 63-yard TD run later in the first quarter and a 2-yard TD run late in the second quarter. He finished the game with 118 yards on 13 carries.
“Your best players play their best games in the biggest games, and he did that today and everybody else stepped up around him,” North coach Dante Laurendi said. “We had contributions from everybody. A lot of guys touched the ball. A lot of guys scored. A lot of guys did a lot of great things on defense.”
The victory capped an unbeaten season for North (7-0), which entered the game as the No. 1 team in the Union Leader Power Poll. Goffstown (8-1) began the day ranked No. 2.
Perhaps the game’s biggest momentum swing came after Goffstown’s Jeremy Henault hauled in a 45-yard touchdown pass from his brother, QB Jarrett Henault. That TD cut North’s lead to 21-14, but Smith returned the ensuing kickoff 66 yards for a score.
“Special teams plays are momentum plays,” Goffstown coach Nick Hammond said. “We’ve been fortunate to have a couple go our way this year. Today it didn’t.”
Any thoughts of a Goffstown comeback disappeared when Smith found the end zone from 9 yards away on North’s first possession of the second half. Then Goffstown fumbled on its first second-half possession, Espinal scooped up the ball and returned it 29 yards for a score.
Lucas Cunningham’s point-after kick made it 49-14 and triggered running time.
“We scored in all three phases and anytime you can do that it ups your chances of winning the game,” Laurendi said. “Our kids came to play and made big plays today.”
Espinal also scored on a 6-yard run in the second quarter.
North led 21-7 after one quarter and 35-14 at halftime.
Jeremy Henult also caught a 55-yard TD pass from his brother, who scored Goffstown’s first TD on a 1-yard run.
Goffstown’s running back Zach Picard gained 124 yards on 24 carries.
“I think we had a hard time setting the edge against them,” Hammond said. “We knew they were fast and physical at the point of attack and they came to play today. They were awesome. They were awesome in all three phases.”