Plymouth Leaves Hanover’s Playoff Fate in the Air

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 10/27/2018 12:03:06 AM

Hanover — The Hanover High football team will need a little help to qualify for the NHIAA Division II playoffs thanks to a three-game losing skid that closed out the Marauders’ regular season.

Plymouth (9-0) added to Hanover’s recent woes with a 27-6 victory on Friday at Merriman-Branch Field. It was a frustrating evening for the hosts, who were riddled by untimely penalties.

The Marauders (6-3) began the season in fine form before encountering the toughest segment of their schedule down the stretch — Bow, John Stark and Plymouth. Now their playoff hopes hinge on St. Thomas Aquinas (7-1) defeating Hollis Brookline (5-3) today. A Gilford-Belmont (4-4) defeat of John Stark (5-3) would also get the job done.

The D-II North and South champions (Plymouth and St. Thomas) make the postseason, followed by the next six squads by point rating, regardless of geography. Hanover currently holds the eighth and final seed entering today’s regular-season finales.

“We look at it a little differently than a losing streak,” Hanover coach Sam Cavallaro said. “Our first six games, we really didn’t play physical teams. Our goals were: No. 1, to get in the playoffs and; No. 2, to get our guys to where they were physical enough to compete with those (top) teams. That’s the mindset we have with our team right now.”

The Marauders finally were rewarded for their toughness when they broke up the Bobcats’ shutout bid with 2 minutes left in Friday’s game. The successful drive began with Hanover quarterback Mason Winter taking over at the 22-yard line with 7:12 remaining.

Winter proceeded to hand off to Jack Loftus, Simon Roach and Griffin Young, each of whom helped move the chains, earning four first downs in the process. Roach’s culminating 8-yard TD run was a positive way to end the game.

“I think it just shows our toughness,” Roach said. “We never gave up. We kept fighting until the end. ... Plymouth, they’re 9-0 now, and we drove on them and we were able to put it in on them in the end. I think that shows a lot about our team and our character.”

Hanover may have exhibited a solid effort throughout the contest, but it was lack of discipline that led to its undoing.

“We killed ourselves,” Cavallaro said, regarding the multitude of yellow flags. “We probably had 10 or 12 penalties, and we’re just not the type of offense that can absorb those types of penalties. ... I think our kids were fighting, but I think they were maybe a little too chippy.”

The Bobcats scored on their first possession of the game, receiving the kickoff and marching 80 yards in less than 2 minutes. Owen Brickley started the drive with a 30-yard kickoff return and ultimately capped it off with an 8-yard touchdown run.

Hanover responded with a decent drive that included two first downs, but Winter was sacked on both third and fourth downs. The Bobcats then took over at the 50-yard line before scoring on a Patrick Malm rush a few plays later.

Plymouth’s third drive of the game was thwarted by a Young interception. Two personal fouls by the Bobcats landed Winter and company 20 yards from the end zone, but they were unable to convert.

Malm broke out for a 60-yard run on the ensuing Plymouth possession, but Hanover’s Keegan Silovich tackled him near the 10 to prevent the touchdown. Roach and Jeffrey Holt then combined to sack Plymouth quarterback Cody Bannon, and the guests missed a field goal to solidify the Hanover stop.

The hosts responded with a long drive that included four first downs, but Winter was picked off 10 yards from the end zone. Another frustrating moment came in the fourth quarter, when the Marauders were turned away at Plymouth’s 2-yard line.

Cavallaro was nevertheless encouraged by his team’s effort.

“The thing that we’ve been trying for the last three weeks is to get our level of physicality — both offensively and defensively — up to the level of where the top teams in the league are,” he said. “And I think we accomplished that tonight.”

The Marauders, who — if all goes well — will learn their playoff seed and opponent following today’s NHIAA action, are ready to turn the page as far as their losing streak is concerned.

“We take what we did here the second half tonight (into) next week and we just play hard, we practice hard all week and we go at it,” Roach said. “I mean, it’s playoffs, anything can happen, and we’re just going to work to win every single game that we can.”

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