Huskies Bark Loud
Ground Game, Defense Lift Monadnock Past Lebanon
Lebanon's Austin Pelletier reaches past the arm of Monadnock's Mason LaClair to complete a pass for the Raiders' only touchdown of the game on Friday night in Lebanon. Monadnock won, 20-7. Valley News - James M. Patterson
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Lebanon's Ethen Perkins, right, fights off Monadnock's Mason LaClair. Valley News - James M. Patterson
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Lebanon coach Chris Childs prepares his team for their home opener against Monadnock in Lebanon, N.H. on Friday, September 13, 2013. Monadnock won.
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Lebanon — Monadnock High quarterback Isaiah Prince came to the sideline shortly before the start of Friday night’s NHIAA Division II football game at Lebanon High School looking like he’d just taken a punch. An oil slick of eye black covered his right cheek, and he needed to clean it up.
A manager gave him a towel, and Prince wiped most of the goo away. The Raiders wouldn’t be quite as easy to erase.
Still, Prince and the Huskies got what they needed when they needed it, turning two first-quarter scoring drives into an eventual 20-7 win at Henry Emerton Memorial Field. What the offense produced in the first half, the defense protected in the second, sacking Lebanon quarterback Travis Hastings six times and rendering the Raiders’ running game inert.
Prince scored on touchdown runs of 21 and 1 yards in the opening 12 minutes, later adding a clutch second-quarter punt to set up the visitors’ other TD. Monadnock (2-0) never relinquished the lead.
“We were seeing what we thought we’d see (in the first quarter),” Monadnock coach Linwood Patnode said. “Their shades were where we thought they’d be. Their offensive sets, they ran the plays we thought they would play when they came out in formation. They changed it up.”
And that’s what kept Lebanon (1-1) in the contest until the very end.
The wishbone Patnode employs doesn’t seek to deceive, as some do. The Huskies play power football, and it produced a 13-0 lead as the first-quarter siren sounded.
Prince opened the evening with a nine-play, 65-yard march in a shade less than four minutes, the senior capping the drive with a 21-yard dash around left end. A Lebanon three-and-out led to a second Monadnock score, this time on 12 plays and 41 yards over 5½ minutes, with Prince bulling across the goal line from a yard out.
“The scouting report was they ran off tackle all the time, so I tried to leave the middle open a little bit and they took advantage of it,” Lebanon coach Chris Childs said. “We had to adjust back to that. We put a guy on the nose, and that stopped the middle play a little bit.”
Patnode gambled on defense early, crowding 11 Huskies on the line of scrimmage. Childs countered by opening an attack that spent the summer working on its aerial play.
Opening the second stanza with possession, Lebanon senior quarterback Travis Hastings (8-for-23, 139 yards) hit Ethen Perkins on an 11-yard completion, then drew a Monadnock pass interference call trying to reach Lucas Gerow on a crossing route. With first-and-10 at the Monadnock 26-yard line, Hastings threw to wideout Austin Pelletier’s back shoulder on a deep corner route, and Pelletier hauled in the ball with 8:18 left in the half to bring Lebanon within 13-7.
“We were trying to catch them over the top a little bit, and we had a little bit of success over there,” Childs said. “But we kind of shot ourselves in the foot a little bit, too. We’d have a catch, and then we’d have a penalty.”
The Huskies were their own worst enemy in that department as well. Monadnock’s 110 yards in misdeeds included four personal fouls, a fifth that was offset and two pass interference flags.
But when Patnode needed a big defensive play, it came. A running 43-yard Prince punt pinned Lebanon on its own 1 midway through the second period; four downs netted nothing, and Monadnock’s Liam Morris snuffed Chance Crowe’s punt for the Huskies’ John Rowan to recover in the end zone for a 20-7 lead.
The Raiders ran 15 of the first 16 plays of the third period thanks to a Monadnock fumble, but a stout defense yielded little. Patnode brought the pass rushers in the fourth quarter, with Mischa Hoffman recording two of the five late sacks that eventually drove a battered Hastings from the contest.
“We were trying to get the quarterback to throw it sooner,” Patnode said. “If he’s throwing under duress, the best pass coverage is a pass rush.”
Senior Drew Bolewski ran 20 times for a game-high 91 yards to front a Monadnock offense that gained all 192 of its yards on the ground. After producing a pair of 100-yard efforts in an opening victory at Con-Val, the Raiders managed just 55 rushing yards against the Huskies.
“I would like to have been 2-0, for sure,” Childs said. “Now we’re going to have to upset one of those big guys somewhere along the line here.”
If Friday proved anything, don’t expect a wipeout.
Quick Hits: Childs second-guessed himself for the series of plays that led to the punt-block TD in the second period. “I had just said I was going to take a safety there, then I changed my mind,” the Lebanon coach admitted. “I was kind of mad at myself a little bit, because I thought about it. I just didn’t do it.” … The Raiders were flagged 11 times for 55 yards in penalties. Monadnock’s dirty laundry came on 10 calls. … The 55 yards lost to sacks matched the amount of yards Lebanon gained on the ground. Gerow had a team-high 28 yards on seven attempts for the Raiders. … Crowe completed his first varsity pass, although in desperate fashion. Chased to his right after gathering a bad snap, Crowe heaved a third-quarter throw that tight end Grayson Hardy secured for an eight-yard gain and a first down. … Prince added 59 yards on a dozen runs for Monadnock, which meets Hollis-Brookline next weekend. Lebanon pays a visit to Trinity on Friday.
Greg Fennell can be reached at email@example.com or 602-737-3226.