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Monadnock Rules Football Rematch Over Kearsarge

— Monadnock didn’t win the game with the first drive of the second half. But the Huskies put their mark on it with that 18-play march that was all runs, chewed up more than eight minutes and ended in a touchdown.

“That was Monadnock football all right,” coach Linwood Patnode said.

“That’s about as good as we can do.” And there was little Kearsarge could do to stop it. No. 3 Monadnock (7-2) gained all of its 230 yards on the ground, held the second-seeded Cougars (7-2) to just 160 total yards (64 on the last play from scrimmage), and muscled its way to a 14-6 semifinal victory yesterday and a spot in next week’s Division V championship against No. 1 Somersworth.

“They took it to us tonight; that’s the only way you can put it,” Kearsarge coach Zach Matthews said. “They took it to us at the line of scrimmage, which is where football games are won.” When these teams met two weeks ago, the Cougars stopped the Monadnock running game, forced the Huskies to throw, came up with five interceptions and claimed a 21-7 win that earned them the home field yesterday. The Monadnock coaching staff dissected that film all week and came up with some answers.

“They threw three defensive fronts at us two weeks ago and we had no knowledge of what they were doing. Our kids up front were going, ‘Where are they … we don’t know where they are, where they’re coming from, where they’re going,’ ” Patnode said.

“So I just spent a lot of time this week really looking at those fronts, so we were doing a lot of audibling today.” The task of making those audible calls fell to quarterback Will Kitterman, who didn’t throw a pass, but did impact the game by getting his line and backs going in the right directions.

“Willie is like a little coach on the field,” Patnode said. “That’s why he’s out there.” The Huskies may also have been a little healthier than they were two weeks ago. Drew Bolewski wasn’t much of a factor in the first meeting, but he was a beast yesterday, gaining 132 yards on 31 carries.

“(Bolewski) was their big player and he was injured the last time we played them, I think,” Kearsarge senior Peter Allen said. “You could see he was aching the whole game when we played last time. He was running much harder today.” Bolewski had a key run on Monadnock’s first scoring drive, a 28-yard jaunt on a third-and-5. That gain set the table for Jake Poulin to score on fourth-and-goal from the 1 and give the Huskies a 7-0 lead with 2:39 to play in the first quarter.

Kearsarge moved the ball inside the Monadnock 30 twice in that first half, but both times the aggressive Huskies came up with stops. The Cougars tried to feed their leading rusher, Ollie Gallo, but Monadnock was keying on the senior and held him to 48 yards on 10 carries.

Still, it was just a one-score game at halftime. But when the Huskies constructed that massive 18-play drive to start the third, the Cougars were clearly in trouble. They were down 14-0 after Dylan Bell capped the march with an 18-yard touchdown run on a counter on third-and-9, and they looked like they had no answers for Monadnock’s ground-and-pound attack.

“They just put it on the table and said come and get it and we couldn’t get it,” said Allen, who starts at cornerback and quarterback for Kearsarge. “Just rammed it down our throats.” The Cougars tried to mix up the offense from there, but the passing game wasn’t any more productive than the running game and Monadnock forced three straight three-and-outs from Kearsarge to start the second half.

Kearsarge’s only score came when Allen (3-for-13, 87 yards, interception) hit Gallo for a 64-yard touchdown pass with 1.5 seconds left on the clock. The two-point conversion failed and the Cougars couldn’t recover the onside kick, but at least it was one positive note for Kearsarge at the end of an otherwise difficult game.