Led by productive offensive performances from senior running back Dave Wiedenfeld and junior quarterback Jake Stevens and a two-interception effort from junior defensive back Cam McDonald, the Londonderry High football squad ended a three-game losing skid with a 30-20 defeat of the visiting Portsmouth High Clippers in soggy weather at LHS last Friday night, Oct. 2.
The now 2-3 Londonderry crew tallied 509 yards worth of offense – with Stevens and Wiedenfeld pacing that charge – in dealing the Portsmouth contingent its fourth defeat in five games this fall.
Stevens passed for 229 yards (13-for-20, one interception) and rushed for 117 (on 19 carries) in steering the Lancer ship admirably, while back Wiedenfeld proved to be both a great pass target for Stevens out of the backfield (seven grabs for 103 yards) and plenty adept at getting the ball over the goal line with rushes as well. Wiedenfeld carried the ball 16 times for 45 yards, but he scored three touchdowns on sprints in ground efforts.
Portsmouth, which is known for its passing game, tallied 217 passing yards and a total of 335 total offensive yards on the night. Sophomore quarterback Cody Graham was intercepted three times, with McDonald snagging two picks and Jimmy Nee grabbing one.
Graham ended up 14-for-24 passing for the aforementioned 217 yards and three touchdowns to go with the three interceptions. He also ran the ball 12 times for a team-high 63 yards.
The visiting Clippers began the evening by putting together an impressive first offensive drive that covered 66 yards on 13 plays in a little over five minutes and culminated with a 5-yard scoring run. Portsmouth lined up for the extra point, but an errant snap from center forced a pass attempt that failed, so the visitors’ lead sat at 6-0 with 6:25 remaining in the first quarter.
“I thought we got off to a rough start on defense, but at this point we’ve trailed in every game so it’s not something we’re not used to. I wish we would get an early lead, just haven’t been able to,” said coach Jim Lauzon.
Londonderry then suffered the first of its three, first-half turnovers when it fumbled the football away on its first offensive series, and Portsmouth’s offense went right back to work.
The Clippers slipped into a situation where they needed to punt the ball away, and the punt attempt was blocked and then recovered by Lancer Ryan Cabezas at the Portsmouth 19.
Three plays later the hosts were celebrating a 5-yard touchdown jaunt by Wiedenfeld, and the subsequent extra-point by Nick Donnelly gave the locals a 7-6 advantage.
Portsmouth collected its second – and last – lead of the night on its next play from scrimmage, thanks to a 63-yard pass play to pay-dirt that made the score 12-7.
There would be 14 more points scored before halftime, and all would belong to the host Lancers, who got a 1-yard scoring run from Wiedenfeld at the end of a long offensive series that would both close out the first quarter and begin the second. That score came with 11:18 left in half number one, and the local team’s other seven points were bagged on a 13-yard run by junior back Peter Navarro with 10:12 to go before halftime.
The Lancers also nearly had six points placed up on the board with eight minutes to go in period number two, but they fumbled away the football in the end zone and the Clippers recovered.
However, 21-12 was where the score sat at the break, with the Lancers having collected 276 offensive yards but turned the ball over three times, and Portsmouth having registered 237 yards worth of offense but also having turned the ball over three times.
“Our guys battled back, and minus three turnovers in the first half, offensively we played well,” said Lauzon. “We didn’t have to punt all game, and we moved the ball pretty efficiently.”
The Clippers subsequently trimmed their deficit down to a single point at 21-20 late in the third quarter on a 24-yard pass play, but the Lancers answered with a 13-play, 65-yard drive that culminated with Wiedenfeld’s third rushing score of the night on a 1-yard push with 9:38 showing on the game clock.
Londonderry finished the scoring with a 31-yard field goal off the foot of Donnelly with 4:29 remaining, and the hosts stifled two late Portsmouth drives with interceptions from McDonald and Nee.
The pick by Jimmy Nee came in the waning seconds of the contest after the Lancers chewed more than three important minutes off the clock with a drive that fell apart on downs just short of the end zone.
“Our defense needs to be more sound and disciplined, but we plan to make those adjustments,” said the LHS coach.
Londonderry faces the 3-2 Merrimack squad at home on Friday night.