Return to glory: New Hampshire ends three-year Shrine game losing streak

  • Woodstock's Gabe Marsicovetere, right, tackles New Hampshire quarterback Cody Potter during the 2019 Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl at Castleton University on Saturday, Aug. 3.

  • Woodstock's Gabe Marsicovetere, center, chases down New Hampshire quarterback Cody Potter during the 2019 Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl at Castleton University on Saturday, Aug. 3. Burlington Free Press — Austin Danforth)

  • Hartford's Nick Porter (4) celebrates his first-half interception with Vermont teammate Andrew Snell of Rice during the 2019 Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl at Castleton University on Saturday, Aug. 3. Burlington Free Press photographs — Austin Danforth

Valley News Sports Editor
Published: 8/3/2019 9:56:52 PM
Modified: 8/3/2019 9:58:07 PM

CASTLETON, Vt. — Maybe Vermont should have played Mann defense.

Behind a big rushing performance from Kingswood’s Cameron Mann, New Hampshire scored just enough in the first half, killed plenty of clock in the second and rode a stout, physical defense to a 21-9 Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl win on Saturday at Castleton University’s Dave Wolk Stadium.

The Granite Staters won their first Shrine game since 2015 and improved their all-time series lead to 48-16-2, taking just their second decision in the five years since the annual football contest moved to western Vermont.

Mann — who came from a high school program that won only one game in NHIAA Division II play last fall — rushed for a game-high 123 yards on 15 carries to front a ground-heavy Granite State attack. After playing to a near draw in the first half, New Hampshire amassed more than half of its 272 total offensive yards in the second and never trailed.

“That’s how we designed the team, and that’s what we expected to do,” said New Hampshire coach Bill Raycraft, of Windham. “Credit to Vermont; they made it tough at first. We knew if we could get the ball going and wear them down a little bit, we might be able to get something off.

“We told the guys it was going to be one of those 12-round fights. We were going to have to grind it out until the fourth quarter, and it kind of worked out that way.”

Windham’s Tommy Emrick added 80 yards on 19 rushes for New Hampshire, which controlled the ball for roughly 19 of the second half’s 24 minutes.

“We watched a lot of film on the New Hampshire team, some of their better players, and there was a lot more running than passing,” said Woodstock defensive end Gabe Marsicovetere, who had a game-high nine tackles for Vermont. “We were ready for it.”

Mann’s Kingswood Regional High Knights were 1-8 last season, at the bottom of NHIAA D-II. Raycraft admitted he didn’t know what he had in Mann until he saw him on film.

He then made him the focal point of the Granite State attack.

“It’s funny, because (when) we got the nomination, I didn’t know a lot about Cam,” Raycraft said. “He played wingback for them, fullback for them, middle backer for them, safety for them. I think he would snap the ball for them. ... I had no idea how good he was until he came here, and he did whatever was asked.”

Mann didn’t mind the responsibility.

“I learned how to play with a lot of great guys and I still learned how to make a family with all these guys,” Mann said. “It’s amazing. This feels like a Super Bowl right now.”

The Granite Staters put the first points on the board in the opening quarter. They were unlucky not to do more.

The New Hampshire defense stuffed Vermont on four plays to open the contest, taking the ball at the Green Mountain 49-yard line following a short punt return from Noel Tyrique (Manchester Memorial). Windham quarterback Cody Potter capably marshaled New Hampshire the rest of the way, covering the distance on eight plays and scoring on an 8-yard keeper for a 7-0 lead midway through the period.

Raycraft tried to get fancy at that point and nearly paid for it. An onside kick worked — Winnacunnet’s Joshua Chase made the recovery — but Vermont’s defense stiffened. Raycraft then attempted a fourth-down punt on a reverse handoff, but Emrick booted the ball into the line. Vermont took Emrick down after he scooped up the ricochet, and the exchange of possession gave the Green Mountaineers their first scoring opportunity.

Fair Haven quarterback Cam Coloutti completed a pair of passes — a 9-yarder and another for 16 yards, both to St. Johnsbury’s Renwick Smith — to get the hosts deep. New Hampshire stopped the incursion by sacking the scrambling Coloutti on fourth down at the 16 and ran out the quarter with its one-TD lead.

Vermont had the chance to tie by halftime but settled for a 23-yard field goal from Rutland’s Noah Crossman with 2:14 left in the half. Rutland quarterback Ryan Moore, the Vermont starter getting his second drive of the opening 24 minutes, maneuvered his offense 71 yards on 12 plays in 5½ minutes, finally stopping at the Granite State 7-yard line after a pressured incompletion in the end zone.

Hartford’s Nick Porter intercepted a deflected Potter pass at midfield to cancel a final New Hampshire possession, and the squads left the steamy turf separated by just the four points. New Hampshire produced just 132 yards of offense in the first half. But Vermont, with Moore and Coloutti contained, offered just 95.

“The way they can sling the ball, and knowing what (Vermont coach Marty Richards, of Mount Mansfield), looking at his films, what they did all season, we knew they could score quick,” Raycraft said.

New Hampshire’s ability to control the ball and clock through Mann and Emrick in the second half ultimately secured the game.

The Granite Staters sapped 6½ minutes off the board with a 15-play drive that died inside the Vermont 30 to open the second half, but that set the tone. Mann scored on an 8-yard run for a 14-3 lead with 10:21 left in the game, capitalizing on a possession started by an 18-yard punt return from Chase to the Vermont 25.

Coloutti gave the Green Mountaineers some life with a 40-yard TD lob to Burr & Burton wideout Jake Baker to cut the gap to 14-9 about a minute later. Moore attempted a 2-point pass out of a fake extra-point hold, but missed his target.

New Hampshire marched right back on its next opportunity and put the game away. Emrick took the lead on the clinching march, carrying the ball five times for 32 yards on an 80-yard possession, scoring from the 1 with 5:34 remaining.

New Hampshire’s defenders forced Vermont’s signal-callers into a 2-for-13 second half with one interception.

“We had three different defensive fronts,” said Granite State defensive tackle Gavin Lovely, of Newport. “It was so versatile. We could switch everybody anywhere, and that’s what we did. We switched people to keep everybody fresh, and we just kept hammering them down.”

When it was all done, Raycraft celebrated with his squad, telling them it was “time to go ring shopping.”

“The way we run our offense, the first half is designed to wear them down,” Raycraft said. “That’s why we ran some perimeter plays, moved them side to side. Second half, we said we were going to get the ball and let’s starting grinding it.”

Instead of sticking it to the man, the Mann stuck it to Vermont.

Audibles: Hanover’s Simon Roach served as a third option to Mann and Emrick through the first half, ultimately finishing with three carries for 10 yards on the day. ... Marsicovetere and Woodstock teammate Caden White flanked the ends of Vermont’s defensive line. ... Windsor’s Gavin Harriman played regularly on the Vermont offensive line.

Greg Fennell can be reached at or 603-727-3226.

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