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Stevens Awakens With Comeback

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 9/29/2018 12:11:42 AM
Modified: 9/29/2018 12:12:20 AM

Claremont — Stevens High football coach Paul Silva has been telling everyone all week that even though Kearsarge-Mount Royal was winless, “They area good football team.”

The Cougars came up short in Friday night’s Barnes Park contest, 26-14, but they did prove Silva’s point. The Cardinals needed to rally after falling behind for the first time this season, requiring two fourth-quarter scores to stay undefeated at 5-0.

“I’ve been wondering all along how we would respond to adversity, and I guess we did OK,” said Silva.

Stevens is now faced with the toughest part of its schedule coming up. In its final four games, three of them will be on the road, and none of the four teams left — Laconia, Lebanon, Trinity and Hillsboro Deering-Hopkinton — entered the weekend with a losing record. Also, those four tough teams are the same squads that Kearsarge (0-5) lost to in its first four games.

The Cougars have been revamping the offense under coach Zach Matthews into a spread. While the losses have come along, Matthews is hanging with his game plan. “Football is a lot like life,” he said. “It has its ups and downs, and I think we’ve been getting better each week.”

Stevens junior Keaghan McAllister, like he has done all season, had the big numbers on offense. He rushed for 184 yards and three touchdowns even though he left the field while vomiting in the second quarter. He has now run for 759 yards on the season and scored 12 touchdowns.

When the Cougars scored with 9:22 to go in the second quarter, the Cardinals found themselves looking at a 14-7 deficit. The defense, which looked shaky at times, toughened from that point and didn’t allow a score the rest of the way.

The Cards tied it before the half when McAllister went up the middle from the 24 yards and Gabe Spaulding booted the conversion.

The Cards did escape a giant bullet when the Cougars drove to the Stevens 5-yard line but never got any further in four tries.

Stevens never took the lead until early in the fourth quarter, and the Cards had to go 89 yards to do it. McAllister covered the final 27 yards on a dive play up the middle. Spaulding hit the upright on the conversion kick after Stevens drew a five-yard penalty.

While that seemed important at the time, it was forgotten a few moments later when a third-and-10 pass attempt by Kearsage-Mount Royal was intercepted by the Cardinals’ Alex Taylor, who ran straight ahead from 38 yards to score and make the margin a more comfortable 26-14.

Stevens scored on is first possession of the game, keyed by a third-and-13 screen pass from quarterback Quentin Bicknell to McAllister, which was followed by McAllister scoring from the 4 and Spaulding’s conversion boot.

Kearsarge got it back to 7-6 with an 11-play drive culminated by a Gavyn Magistro scamper from the 10.

Stevens tried to up its lead before the half when Spaulding tried a 29-yard field goal that was wide.

In the second half, Kearsarge, which was having some tough luck with its passing game, connected when quarterback Noah Cooper combined with wide receiver Andrew Normandin, one of the Cougars’ Mount Royal Academy connections, from 30 yards out.

Stevens goes to Laconia next week while another undefeated team, Campbell, comes to Kearsarge-Mount Royal.

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