EXETER — You saw some unusual stuff if you attended Friday night’s high school football game between Exeter and Merrimack at Exeter’s Eustis Field.
Exeter, a team that’s typically married to the running game, scored six touchdowns in its 41-7 victory, and four of them came through the air.
Exeter quarterback Ryan Grijalva completed 4 of 6 passes for 96 yards and three touchdowns. He didn’t throw a pass after Exeter took a 34-0 lead on its second possession in the third quarter.
“I guess I’m more confident,” said Grijalva, a senior, who was Exeter’s starting QB for most of his junior season. “I kind of got thrown into it (last season). The passing is really a game-plan thing. We have to take what they give.”
Each team entered the game with a 2-0 record. Exeter, the No. 4 team in the Union Leader Power Poll, opened its season by beating Bishop Guertin (29-6) and Keene (49-7). Merrimack, which is No. 7 in the Power Poll, beat Spaulding (33-28) and Dover (49-21).
The Blue Hawks led 7-0 after one quarter, and 27-0 at halftime.
Grijalva tossed three touchdown passes to Nathan MacDonald (43, 27 and 16 yards). Grijalva also scored Exeter’s first TD on a 1-yard run. He gained 84 yards on seven carries.
“They were pretty much what they thought they were going to be,” Merrimack coach Kip Jackson said. “They’re going to be physical and force you to play assignment football, and if you don’t they’ll make you pay — and that’s exactly what they did.
“I think you just take for granted because of how good the line is that they’re going to be a running team. Even on film I don’t think you can appreciate his (Grijalva’s) accuracy and how good their athletes are.”
Exeter also scored on a fake field goal in the second quarter, when Thomas Lamar caught a 12-yard pass from Tanner Casey. Exeter’s final TD came on a 13-yard run by halfback Sean Worthen.
Merrimack, which turned the ball over four times in the second half, scored on Jared Dyer’s 1-yard run with 4:16 remaining in the third quarter.
“(Grijalva) looks like a confident kid,” Jackson said. “We made their job easier by not doing what we were supposed to do, but they were better than us.”