Cards Show Their Versatility
Stevens running back Brandon Bell catches a pass during their game against Mascoma in Canaan, N.H. on Saturday, October 5, 2013. Stevens won the game 42-22. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »
Mascoma running back Kyle Kosiorek, right, runs the ball against Mascoma during their game in West Canaan, N.H. on Saturday, October 5, 2013. Stevens won the game 42-22. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »
Stevens running back Donald Pellerin is tackled by Mascoma defenders during their game in West Canaan, N.H. on Saturday, October 5, 2013. Stevens won the game 42-22. (Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage) Purchase photo reprints »
West Canaan — Conservative by nature, Stevens High football coach Paul Silva didn’t plan on building a two-headed monster this season. Like it or not, he has one.
OK. He likes it.
On any given weekend, the Cardinals can insert a quarterback who can run or one who can throw. Circumstances can dictate the scenario, or whimsy may. Being able to employ either Bryar Rouillard or Ryan Tanguay behind center also allows Silva to show a hidden wild side, and the Stevens coach brought that to bear as well in a 42-22 win over Mascoma on Saturday.
Silva still has horses — OK, a horse named Donald — upon whom he relies heavily to run the football. But will running back Donald Pellerin get a handoff from Rouillard or Tanguay? Will it be from the single wing, the double wing, the shotgun? A pitch, perhaps? A pass?
So many options. Such a monster to defend.
“That wasn’t really my original plan,” Silva said of his two-QB system after the Cardinals (3-2) put the spoil to the Royals’ homecoming. “(Tanguay) throws the ball really well. He hasn’t played in a couple of years, so it took him a while to get going.
“Both of them can run both offenses, but it gives me a chance to give them a breather. … It’s nice to have. It’s worked out well the last two games.”
As he has all season, Pellerin did the bulk of the Cards’ running, to the tune of 31 carries, 138 yards and four touchdowns, splitting his end-zone visits over both halves.
It’s the versatility that paid off so well for Stevens. Having Tanguay let Silva call for a rare long bomb in the third quarter — it turned into a 74-yard Tanguay TD toss to Nate White that gave the Cards the lead for good. It also let Silva give Rouillard some key rest when the starting QB tweaked his right knee late in the first half, a potential loss that would have had ramifications all over the field.
“As soon as (the trainer iced the knee), I was like, ‘All right, this pain isn’t anything major,’ ” said Rouillard, who drove Stevens to three touchdowns while sharing honors with the live-armed Tanguay on a fourth. “It’s something you can just walk off, be sore the rest of the weekend. We’ve got a bye week next weekend, so we can rest up.”
With running back Shane Pierce limited to defensive duties because of a mid-week ankle injury, junior Andrew Cashe stepped up for a team-high 127 rushing yards and two touchdowns for Mascoma (2-2).
It didn’t take long for both teams to this first-ever meeting. The Royals went 83 yards with the game’s first drive, taking an 8-0 lead on a 47-yard Justin Marsh-to-Kyle Kosiorek TD pass and Marsh conversion run. Rouillard marched Stevens right back over 66 yards, with Pellerin scoring from the 2 out of the single wing barely four minutes later.
Rouillard gave Stevens a 14-8 advantage with a second TD crawl, covering 10 plays and 77 yards, with a 1-yard Pellerin dive serving as punctuation. Silva went to Tanguay at that point; the senior — who returned to football this fall after three years away — twice drove the Cards deep into Mascoma territory, only to lose the ball on turnovers.
Cashe provided the latter takeaway, stepping in front of a Tanguay toss at the Royals’ 5-yard line and returning the interception to the Stevens 46. Three plays later, Cashe took an inside double-handoff from Kosiorek on a 30-yard scoring dash, tying the game at 14.
“We prepared for the double wing this week and the spread,” Mascoma coach Ray Kershaw said. “We prepared for some single wing, so everything he ran we knew they were going to run, and we did prepare for it.”
The scoring pace continued out of the second-half gate. As Rouillard rested his knee — the result of a tackle following a mistimed snap just before halftime — Tanguay snuck in from the 1 on the first drive out of halftime for a 21-14 lead. The Royals answered on a 60-yard Cashe gallop and Marsh conversion to resume command at 22-21. But Mascoma mistakes and Stevens solutions eventually turned affairs toward the visitors.
Silva’s decision to let down his hair opened the door. On second-and-11 from the Stevens’ 26 following a Pellerin loss, the Cardinal coach looked toward Tanguay in the huddle and shouted, “Run it!” White (seven catches, 165 yards) outraced cornerback Marsh, caught Tanguay’s throw down the right sideline in stride, absorbed a shove from safety Kosiorek and sprinted 74 yards into the end zone to put Stevens up to stay with 3:20 left in the third quarter.
“People who know me know I’m a pretty conservative guy by nature, with the single wing and that sort of thing,” Silva said with a grin. “When we were going trips or bunch to one side, I thought they were overloading that side and that gave us a one-on-one matchup on the back side. Nate’s a tall kid, has got good speed. … I saw his height, thought we had a little bit of an advantage, so I said, ‘Let’s take it.’
“Ryan can throw the ball deep. He threw it perfectly, the right timing. I thought it was the right time to get a quick one.”
Mascoma did little with the ball from there.
Freshman Richard Bell picked Marsh to kill one Mascoma possession; three others ended in punts. Marsh left the game woozy following a White tackle with 10 minutes to go; Stevens recovered a fumble from backup QB Matthew Perry at the Mascoma 18 and turned it into Pellerin’s third TD with 6:53 left. Pellerin added a fourth score from the 5 with 2:40 to go.
“I think this win is going to be a confidence-booster for us,” Rouillard said. “We’re going to be working hard all next week and the week after. … We’re not the best. We can always get better.”
Maybe that’s not a monster, but it certainly looks like a bear.
Audibles: The knee injury limited Rouillard’s minutes in the third quarter, but the junior still booted all six of Stevens’ PATs and the Cardinals’ punts. “The guy hit the inside of my knee, and my body went the other way,” said Rouillard, who had to be carried off the field. “It was a sharp pain, but it went away quick.” … Tanguay finished 9-for-16 passing for 134 yards, the one TD and one interception. Rouillard completed his only throw, a 37-yarder to White that set up Pellerin’s first score. … Mascoma’s Kosiorek ran 16 times for 85 yards, all but 11 of which came in the first half. He also made a nice first-half strip-tackle of White for force a Stevens giveaway. … Recognizing breast cancer awareness, pink showed up everywhere: Mascoma’s socks, Rouillard’s athletic tape, referees’ whistles. A few Royals dyed their Mohawks pink, paint that quickly started running down faces and foreheads. … The Royals visit Fall Mountain on Friday night. The loser will most likely drop out of the NHIAA Division III West playoff picture.
Greg Fennell can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3226.