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Raiders power past Cards

  • Stevens head coach Paul Silva high-fives players before the start of their game with Lebanon in Claremont, N.H., on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Lebanon's Calvin Bates, left, and Stevens' Alex Taylor and Matthew Taylor scramble for a loose ball following a Stevens fumble in the first quarter of their game in Claremont, N.H., on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Stevens marching band members Michelle LaPlante, center, looks up at bandmate Jayden Lapierre when getting ready for the football game to start in Claremont, N.H., on Friday, Oct. 18, 2019. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 10/18/2019 10:06:20 PM
Modified: 10/18/2019 10:06:06 PM

CLAREMONT — The Lebanon High football team took another step on Friday in its quest for an undefeated season, knocking off neighbor and rival Stevens, 42-7, during an NHIAA Division III matchup at Barnes Park.

The Raiders (7-0) close the regular season with home games against InterLakes-Moultonborough and Campbell. The former entered the weekend 1-5 while the latter was 5-1. Eight of the 12 Division III schools make the playoffs and Lebanon’s last state title came in 2010.

Stevens (5-2) is at Trinity and hosts Hillsboro-Deering/Hopkinton. The Pioneers began the weekend at 5-1 and the Redhawks at 4-2.

“They were lined up a little deep in the secondary to try and take away the pass,” said 13th-year Lebanon coach Chris Childs, whose 2018 team was 6-4 and lost at Hillsboro-Deering/Hopkinton in the quarterfinals. “So we pounded the ball.”

The Raiders’ Wade Rainey ran 12 times for 74 yards and two touchdowns, and Phillip Mellish carried 11 times for 75 yards and two touchdowns. Lebanon produced 238 rushing yards, and Jon Willeman completed six of nine passes for 82 yards. Caleb Smith caught three passes for 37 yards.

“That’s a really good team,” said ninth-year Stevens coach Paul Silva, whose program has reached the division semifinals during each of the past two seasons. “They’ve got size and athleticism and they’re physical, but we played hard and could have folded at 35-0, so I’m proud of our kids.”

Chief among them was senior running back Keaghan McAllister, who carried 23 times for 77 yards and a touchdown.

He has 1,006 yards this season after gaining 1,047 as a junior and 1,085 as a sophomore.

Lebanon “knew he was getting the ball on almost every play, and we’re hurting a bit on the offensive line,” said Silva, whose team attempted only three passes, completing one. “But he always finds a way to fall forward.”

Lebanon opened the scoring with a 13-play, 58-yard drive capped by Rainey’s 1-yard run. He added the extra point for a 7-0 lead seven minutes into the game.

McAllister was held up and stripped of the ball by Lebanon’s Cole Ames on Stevens’ first play from scrimmage. Rainey recovered and returned the ball 12 yards for a touchdown. His extra-point attempt was blocked, and the lead moved to 13-0.

“We talked about getting the ball loose all week,” Childs said. “Sometimes when you put pressure of people, the ball winds up on the carpet. That was a huge momentum swing.”

The Cardinals punted on their next possession and Lebanon needed only three plays to score, Mellish running 18 yards for a touchdown one play after he broke off a 32-yard jaunt. Willeman threw to Calvin Bates for a 2-point conversion and a 21-0 lead just 18 seconds into the second quarter.

Stevens punted again on its third possession and the visitors marched 57 yards in 10 plays, Willeman rolling left on a run-pass option and choosing the former to score from 5 yards. Rainey added the extra point for a 28-0 lead five minutes before halftime.

The Cardinals ended the half with 15 yards rushing and didn’t attempt a pass before intermission. The hosts lost one of their four fumbles during the game. They also dropped two kickoffs but recovered those bobbles.

Stevens took the third-quarter kickoff and drove from its 31-yard line to the Raiders’ 34 but turned the ball over on downs. Lebanon in turn marched 34 yards in nine plays and scored on a 22-yard Rainey run.

The senior added the extra point for a 35-0 lead with a minute remaining in the third quarter.

The Cardinals scored their touchdown on a 5-yard McAllister run that capped a 10-play, 52-yard drive. McAllister returned a kickoff 37 yards to set up the march, which ended with six minutes remaining. Mellish ran for a 16-yard touchdown and Rainey added the conversion kick to close the scoring with three minutes on the clock.

Notes: The matchup reminded longtime observers of the teams’ 1987 meeting, which Lebanon won, 48-36, en route to an undefeated season and a Connecticut Valley League title. … Stevens assistant coach Josh Duford is a former Cardinals standout who has taught math at Lebanon Middle School for several seasons. He coached at Stevens for several years, became the Raiders’ 2018 offensive coordinator and returned to coach at his alma mater this season. … Lebanon lineman Hayden Pearce sipped from a cup of hot chocolate amidst his teammates on the sideline during the first half. … Raiders assistant coaches Todd Bircher and Brandon LaHaye wore shorts despite temperatures dipping towards 40 degrees. … According to a series history printed in Friday’s program, the teams first played in 1902 and Stevens holds a 40-38-1 lead. Lebanon has won 16 of the last 18 meetings. The same document noted that the 1949 game was the first night contest hosted by Stevens and that Lebanon’s 1994 victory was keyed by Chris Childs, who rushed 18 times for 118 yards and two touchdowns. … Lebanon was 1-7 during the 2017 season.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.




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