M/cloudy
65°
M/cloudy
Hi 66° | Lo 50°

Tigers Reach D-III Tourney

West Caanan — The Newport High football team turned three of the four Mascoma fumbles into scores as the Tigers defeated the Royals 42-14 in a winner-take-all game Saturday.

“You just can’t turn the ball over that many times and win a football game,” Royals coach Ray Kershaw said.

When the final weekend of the regular season began, Stevens, Newport and Mascoma all had 5-2 records in the New Hampshire Division III West Conference, but only the top two teams can advance to the postseason. Stevens won its Friday night game to gain one spot, with the final spot going Saturday’s winner.

“I know we’re going to the playoffs, but I still don’t like the way it’s set up,” Newport coach Larry Carle said.

Unofficially, Stevens will have a higher rating when all the data is fed into the computer and will host Newport next weekend.

“Doesn’t matter to me where we play,” said Carle.

Stevens downed Newport during the regular season, 9-6.

The winner of next week’s game will enter the Division III championship chase with the North, South and East winners.

Newport led a grinding contest 20-14 through the first half, but the momentum made a big turn quickly in the second half as Newport scored on its first two possessions. Mascoma kicked off to start the third quarter and squibbed the ball, and Newport’s Dylan Gardner jumped on the ball at the Tigers 45.

Newport began stuffing the ball into the belly of sophomore CJ Lawrence (124 yards, 17 carries) ,who rushed the ball five times to the Royals’ 9-yard-line, where Tanner Sherman (77 yards, 13 carries) took it in for a TD. Lawrence, a husky sophomore who also scored a TD, rushed for one of his three 2-point conversions.

Mascoma couldn’t take care of the ball, and fumbled on the second play of its next possession, with the Tigers recovering at midfield. Ten plays later, Newport quarterback Tom Hogan (6 for 8, 99 yards, 3 TDs) passed to Jerry Farnham from the 6 and Tigers stretched the lead to 34-14.

“Balance,” said Carle. “That’s what we had today, balance.”

The final TD of the day came after Sherman recovered a fumble on the Mascoma 45, with Lawrence eventually taking it into the end zone from the 5.

Lawrence looked at the scoreboard after the game and said he wasn’t surprised by the score.

“I knew we could shut off their wing offense,” he said. “We worked on it all week.”

What did surprise Lawrence was the room he had to run.

“The six-hole (between the tackles) was open all day,” he said.

Mascoma’s Kyle Kosiorek (124 yards, 17 carries) made two great plays to give the Royals a 6-0 lead in the first quarter when he picked up a first down with a fake punt run. Moments later, he dashed 54 yards up the middle to score.

Kosiorek closed out his senior season with 17 touchdowns and 904 rushing yards.

What happened next was a bit confusing, as the Royals appeared to be trying an onside kick, but after the ball traveled to the Newport 45, several players stood over the ball before a Newport player picked it up. That led to a quick Newport score on a Hogan 30-yard pass to Stephan Nix.

Mascoma took the lead back on a smartly-run option as quarterback Justin Marsh held the ball a long time before pitching to Andrew Cashe, who beat the defense into the end zone from 27 yards out.

Newport came right with passes of 28 yards to Farnham and 14 to Noah Wade, with Lawrence eventually taking it in from the 1.

The first of the Mascoma fumbles that led to three Newport scores really hurt the Royals, as it came with just 1:35 to go in the half at the Mascoma 30.

Two minutes later, Hogan tossed his second TD pass to Nix and Lawrence ran for a 2-point conversion to give the Tigers a 20-14 lead at the break.