Any lingering hopes Londonderry High football still held of making an appearance in the 2015 Division I playoffs dwindled away beneath the weight of a 26-13 loss to the host Winnacunnet High Warriors in Hampton Friday, Oct. 23.
The Lancers’ chances of qualifying for the playoffs were down to a mathematical basis prior to the road contest with the now 5-3 Warriors, and they slipped away into the realm of impossible with the defeat, which made the locals 3-5 on the season.
Winnacunnet – which snagged its third consecutive victory in the besting of the Lancers – utilized a strong running game (215 rushing yards) and several key passes (116 passing yards) en route to the evening’s success.
Londonderry junior quarterback Jake Stevens had success throwing the ball, which became necessary for the locals when the Warriors tallied a 19-6 lead in the first half and built it up to 26-7 late in the third period.
Stevens completed 16 of the 31 passes for a total of 239 yards, but both of the Lancers’ touchdowns came on runs, with Stevens tallying one of those on a 10-yard sprint.
“I thought Jake Stevens played well,” said LHS coach Jimmy Lauzon. “He’s gaining valuable experience and has shown some toughness at QB the past few weeks.”
But all in all, the LHS running game had trouble getting anywhere, with 29 total carries only producing 58 yards.
“I’m proud of how hard we played,” said Lauzon. “The kids were just a few plays away, which has kind of been the theme all year.”
Londonderry answered Winnacunnet’s first score of the night – on a 53-yard touchdown pass less than three minutes into the game – with a fine offensive series of its own, which consisted of eight plays and ended with Stevens’ scoring run as the game score became knotted at 7-7.
The squads then exchanged fumbles before the Warriors got the lead – for good as it turned out – with a 22-yard touchdown sprint by standout senior running back Mike Lewis early in quarter two.
Lewis wound up leading the host team’s successful effort by running for 129 yards on 21 carries.
Winnacunnet pushed its lead up to 19-7 with a touchdown on a 13-yard pass with 2:57 to go in the half, and that’s where the score sat at the break.
Looking to pick up points and momentum, Londonderry began the second half with a strong offensive series that rolled from the Lancer 12 all the way to the Winnacunnet seven, but it perished there when the locals couldn’t convert on a fourth-and-three.
The score remained the same until 3:21 was left in quarter three – after the Warriors had blocked a Lancer punt deep in Londonderry territory – on a short touchdown run by the hosts that made the tally 26-7.
The locals made it a 26-13 game with 1:41 left in that period with a five-play drive that included a 53-yard pass play from Stevens to Nick Donnelly and culminated with a 1-yard scoring push by Mike Wiedenfeld.
The versatile Wiedenfeld finished the evening with five pass receptions for 95 yards, and Donnelly snagged four Stevens tosses for 70 yards.
“There were a lot of positives,” said Lauzon. “We forced them to turn the ball over, we held them to seven points in the second half, but at the end of the day that’s a senior-driven team, a big, powerful team with a tough offense to stop.”
The Lancers will close out their 2015 campaign with a home game against 6-2 Salem at LHS this Friday night. The Blue Devils’ coaching staff includes former Londonderry coaches and players Jon Rich and Mike Bicchieri.