Big Plays Give Hanover a Big Victory

  • Hanover's Simon Roach. (Valley News - Tris Wykes)

Valley News Correspondent
Saturday, November 04, 2017

Hanover — Making big plays in all three phases of the game proved to be a winning recipe for the Hanover High football team in the quarterfinal round of the NHIAA Division II playoffs. The Marauders forced five turnovers and Caleb Putnam ran for four touchdowns to help the hosts beat Hollis Brookline, 42-21, on Saturday afternoon at Merriman-Branch Field.

Next up for Hanover is a semifinal home game against Bow, which was a 20-15 upset winner at unbeaten, top-seeded Windham on Saturday. The Marauders now have revenge on their minds — the Falcons beat Hanover, 38-24, in last November’s NHIAA D-II semifinals.

Playoff jitters won the early action, with the teams trading turnovers on the first three possessions. Hanover’s Simon Roach recovered a fumble on his own 32-yard line midway through the first quarter, which proved to be the spark to help the Marauder offense kick into gear.

Hanover then staged a 16-play, 68-yard touchdown drive. Alex Mosenthal concluded the march on a quarterback keeper from 1 yard out that put Hanover in front, 7-0, after Moises Celaya’s extra point.

The Marauders’ ball security was never a problem again after an early fumble. The same could not be said for the visiting Cavaliers, who turned it over three more times to help the Marauders dominate field position. Also helping the cause was a pair of long punt returns by Roach, who totaled 46 yards on two returns to help set up Hanover scores.

“We work on ball security a ton. It’s a major focus. They’re always trying to rip it out (on tackles), so it was big (to secure the ball),” Putnam said.

The Marauders held the Cavaliers to a three-and-out on the possession following the early touchdown, taking over on the Hollis-Brookline 48-yard line after a punt. Graham Penfield was on the receiving end of a 23-yard strike from Mosenthal on the second play from scrimmage, and the Marauders capped the drive on a 4-yard touchdown run from Putnam.

“It feels great. We’ve been physical all year. It was a must to play the game we play, and we had guys all over the field swarming to the ball,” Hanover coach Sam Cavallaro said.

Trailing, 14-0, the Cavaliers’ high-octane offense found its rhythm on a pair of touchdown drives. Quarterback Sander Wimmer connected with a fleet of receivers led by his brother, Quinten Wimmer. A 26-yard strike to Chad Brown setup a Sander Wimmer quarterback sneak for the Cavs’ first touchdown with 3:33 left on the clock in the second quarter. After the Hanover offense stalled on the ensuing possession, the Cavs went right down the field on a 59-second touchdown drive to knot the score at 14-14.

The Marauders marched down field in the final minute of the half to set up Celaya for a 43-yard field goal attempt with 6 seconds left on the clock. Celaya had plenty of distance, but the kick veered just left to leave the score deadlocked at halftime.

The third quarter proved decisive for Hanover, as the Marauders erupted to outscore the Cavaliers, 21-0, for a 35-14 lead by the start of the fourth quarter. Roach’s 21-yard punt return gave Hanover the ball on the Hollis Brookline 23-yard line to start the first scoring drive. Putnam finished that possession with a 2-yard touchdown run.

“We had a theme for the week, and that was to finish. They came back from 21 down last week, and they have such an explosive offense,” Cavallaro said.

“The boys hit another gear (in the third quarter). You have to credit Coach (Mike) Ivanoski, who made great defensive adjustments at halftime.”

Roach started the next Hanover drive with a halfback pass to Penfield for 27 yards.

“Simon stepped up big today,” Cavallaro said. “Play after play, punt returns, defensively, he was a big difference maker for us.”

Roach finished with 19 yards rushing and two fumble recoveries.

Putnam scored his third touchdown on the next Marauders drive, scoring from three yards out to put Hanover in front, 28-14.

After the Marauders defense stifled the Cavs on the next possession, another long Roach punt return started a drive that Putnam would again end with a touchdown run. Celaya’s extra point gave Hanover a three-TD lead late in the third quarter.

The Cavaliers came back from 21 points down to beat Souhegan, 48-42, in their regular-season finale, so Hanover knew it had to keep executing the game plan to finish out the victory despite a 21-point edge heading into the fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter got off to an ominous start when the Wimmer brothers connected for a pair of big plays to help the Cavaliers march down the field in less than a minute for a touchdown that cut the deficit to 35-21.

Hanover answered with a time-consuming 77-yard touchdown drive that featured a 28-yard rush on a sweep left by Thomas and was capped by a 4-yard sweep right by Mosenthal. Hanover led 42-21 with 6:06 left to play after the Celaya extra point.

Celaya finished a perfect 6-for-6 on extra points and also recorded a key sack of Sander Wimmer late in the fourth quarter.

Putnam finished with 149 yards rushing on 38 carries doing the bulk of the inside running for the Marauders. Thomas clocked in with 48 yards on just four carries. Mosenthal had 60 yards on 5-for-7 passing, and Penfield had 52 yards receiving.

“Give Caleb credit. He takes a lot of carries and the defense has to focus on him so much which opens up holes for us,” Roach said. “We’re ready for Bow and we wanted them. We can’t wait; it’s going to be a great game.”

The fourth-seeded Marauders will host No. 8 seed Bow at 1 p.m. on Saturday back at Merriman-Branch Field. The winner will play in the D-II state championship game on Nov. 18 at the University of New Hampshire’s Wildcat Stadium.