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Bobcats close out season with a win

by Matt Perloff
Contributing Writer

Plymouth's Sam Slaughter lays out a Hanover ball carrier during Saturday's 21-14 victory. Matt Perloff. (click for larger version)
November 03, 2014
PLYMOUTH — The Plymouth Regional High School football team hasn't seen much sunlight this season, but the team at least ended its season on a bright note.

The Bobcats came out on top in a rain-soaked season finale against Hanover, defeating the Marauders 21-14 Saturday afternoon at Zoulias Field.

Plymouth (4-4) endured the weather and a persistent effort from Hanover (1-7), pulling ahead in the fourth quarter and holding off a late drive to close out their 2014 campaign at an even .500.

Hanover drew first blood midway through the first quarter. Neither team scored on their opening drives, but the Marauders would get the ball on Plymouth's 28 yard line following a penalty on the punt return, setting up for a short drive to the end zone. The Bobcats slowed the attack with stops by Jason Murray, Chad Merrill and Nate Comeau, but Hanover went for the touchdown on fourth down and scored from eight yards out, adding an extra point to take a 7-0 lead with 3:16 left in the frame.

Plymouth wouldn't stay behind for long. The Bobcats opened on their own 39 and got early carries by Justin Robinson and Chris Comeau to cross midfield, then Derek Preble handed off to Sam Slaughter, who broke through some early tackles before sprinting for the end zone. Some of the Marauder defenders caught Slaughter inside the 10 yard line, but the sophomore running back dragged them all in a resilient struggle for the goal line, staying on his feet the entire way to complete the 44-yard touchdown run. Connor Nolan came in to add the extra point kick, tying the game at seven.

The Bobcat defense handled Hanover the next time out, slowing their attack inside Plymouth territory as Quinn Orr stopped one run for a loss, then Slaughter laid out the ball carrier on third down for another loss to force a punt. Back in control on their own 16, the Bobcats got an immediate 15-yard gain from Robinson, who followed up with a 54-yard run to bring the ball into the Hanover red zone. Comeau added another 10 yards to bring the ball down to the six and after Robinson took the next two handoffs to reach the one-yard line, Preble would take it in himself on the quarterback draw, pushing his way into the end zone for the touchdown and a 14-7 lead following Nolan's extra point kick.

Plymouth maintained their lead into halftime, but Hanover tied things up early in the third quarter, needing just one play on their first drive with a 63-yard touchdown run to make it 14-14 less than three minutes into the frame. The Marauders got the ball right back when they recovered a fumble on the kickoff return, but the Bobcat defense was ready this time despite having only 26 yards to hold. A holding penalty would throw a wrench in Hanover's advance, but stops by Orr on the next two plays would force the Marauders to seek a big gain on fourth down, but the pass would fall incomplete to turn the ball over on downs.

The ball hovered around midfield over the next few drives, both teams gaining possessions on fumbles before Hanover tried to keep their own possession going on a fake punt, only to get stopped by Orr and Nate Comeau to force the turnover on downs to close out the third quarter. Robinson kept the early fourth quarter drive going as he bowled through the middle on fourth and one to convert for first down, and after several short gains, Robinson would step in behind center and take a quarterback keeper on a 32-yard run, stripping off Hanover defenders for the breakaway before finally getting dragged down two yards shy of the end zone. Slaughter finished off the drive on the next play, running the ball in for the touchdown and a 21-14 advantage with 6:55 left in the game.

Hanover took the ensuing kickoff back to their own 43, setting up a tough final battle to knot things back up. The Bobcats held the Marauders to several short gains, but despite keeping the visitors contained, their advance was enough to keep earning first downs, battling deep into Plymouth territory. Plymouth turned the tables when Garrett Macomber caught the ball carrier in the backfield and dragged him down for a four-yard loss, and while Hanover would recover for gains on the next two plays, they'd still end up five yards short to set up a fourth down, do-or-die play. The Marauders set up a short pass to try and convert, but just as it looked like they'd get the yards they needed, Chris Frawley was able to catch the receiver and bring him down a yard short of the first down, turning the ball back over to Plymouth. With less than a minute left on the clock, the Bobcats were able to run out the clock, locking up the win.

Robinson closed out a productive season with another 185 yards on over 20 carries, while Slaughter added 45 yards on four carries and Chris Comeau ran for 24 on four attempts. The defense had a number of key contributors, including a number of tackles by Orr, Murray, Hamel, Chris Comeau, Nate Comeau and Garrett Macomber, as well as the key hits by Slaughter and Frawley.

Though the Bobcats' season ends without a playoff berth, nothing can be taken away from the huge turnaround they made after an 0-3 start to their campaign. The Bobcats' dramatic come-from-behind victory over Trinity during Homecoming kicked off a stellar 4-1 stretch, beating three playoff-bound teams and coming just shy of knocking off Laconia as well. Plymouth ultimately finished fourth in a tight North Conference field, their impressive victories over Trinity, Merrimack Valley and Kearsarge keeping them in the playoff picture to the end.

The Bobcats will part with a number of seniors, including captains Robinson, Chris Comeau and Amani Mwingira, quarterbacks Preble and Tom Horan, defensive end Jim Wieliczko, defensive backs Orr and Adam Hughes, and linemen Nate Comeau, Frawley, Kyle Mathews, Arran Chiveil, Connor Davis and Dylan Cooper. Plymouth will see many key contributors return next season though, setting the foundation for another promising campaign from Plymouth Regional High School football.

For final standings and scores, as well as tournament results, visit nhiaa.org.

Salmon Press
Martin Lord Osman
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