GOFFSTOWN — For the second week in a row, the opening drive of the second half played a key role in helping the Goffstown High School football team win a playoff game.
Quarterback Jarrett Henault tossed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Henault (twin brothers) early in the third quarter Saturday to give the Grizzlies some breathing room in what turned out to be a 27-15 triumph over Winnacunnet in the Division I semifinals.
The TD pass handed Goffstown a 20-7 lead in a game that had been a fistfight up until that point.
Goffstown took its first lead in last weekend’s quarterfinal-round victory over Bedford by scoring on its first drive after the halftime break.
“I didn’t have a doubt in my mind we were going to win this game and I knew we were going to go out and score on that drive,” Jarrett Henault said. “I hyped up my offensive line and said, ‘Hey, just give me and Zach (running back Zach Picard) one guy to run over or beat and we’re good, and that’s what we did.”
Henault’s TD pass was set up by Mike Levesque’s long kickoff return, which gave Goffstown possession on the Winnacunnet 25-yard line.
Picard helped extend the lead to 27-7 when he found the end zone from 13 yards away on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Picard had a game-high 107 yards on 19 carries in the victory, which earned Goffstown (8-0) a date with Nashua North (6-0) in Saturday’s Division I championship game. North (No. 1) and Goffstown (No. 2) entered the weekend as the top teams in the Union Leader Power Poll.
Jarrett Henault did his share of damage on the ground as well. He rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns on 18 attempts.
His 2-yard TD run plus Ethan Bradley’s PAT made it a 7-7 game with 11:06 left in the first half, and his 3-yard TD run broke that tie with 1:22 remaining in the half.
“The kick return by Mikey was huge for us because it set us up with a short field,” Goffstown coach Nick Hammond said. “It comes down to execution on offense and I think when we execute the way we’re supposed to and the way we’re capable of we’re pretty tough to stop.”
Winnacunnet (6-2) grabbed an early lead when Zachary Fredericks recovered a fumble in the end zone with 3:59 left in the opening quarter. Winnacunnet’s other TD came on Dylan Atwood’s 1-yard run with 55.4 seconds to play.
The Warriors, who won one game in 2019, committed four turnovers in the loss.
“The (Jarrett) Henault kid is tough,” Winnacunnet coach Ryan Francoeur said. “He throws the ball well. He makes good decisions. He’s a really good athlete, and we knew that coming in. He and Harris-Lopez (North quarterback Curtis Harris-Lopez) — what a matchup that’s going to be.”
Hammond said he was pleased with how his team defended Winnacunnet’s triple-option attack, an offense the Grizzlies had not faced prior to Saturday’s game.
“Tackling improved throughout the game,” he said. “Our defense has been consistently excellent all year. Happy to be playing next week.”