By Chris Paul
The Londonderry High School Varsity Football squad is headed to a rematch with the Pinkerton Academy Astros in the Semifinals this Saturday, after dispatching the Merrimack Tomahawks over the weekend with a 21-7 victory at Lancer Park.
It was a tale of too many turnovers for both sides in this Quarterfinal contest on a very warm Saturday afternoon, Nov. 12. There was a total of five turnovers in the game, three by Londonderry and two by Merrimack.
Special teams played an important role for each team in the contest and that was displayed right from the start, as LHS senior, Andrew Kullman, took the opening kickoff from the 10-yard line all the way to the Merrimack end-zone to give his team a 6-0 lead, just 16-seconds into the game.
Senior Jack Drabik split the uprights into a strong wind for the 7-0 early lead.
Those seven points were the only ones scored in the first half, as neither team’s defense gave up many yards.
Londonderry had a difficult time stopping Merrimack’s senior running back, Reimello Hyde, who accounted for much of the MHS offense throughout the game.
The Tomahawks first drive of the game brought them down to the Lancer 10-yard line, where they had a first and goal after taking six-minutes off the clock.
The Lancer defense held strong keeping their opponents out of the end-zone on a fourth and six stop at the three-yard line with a big tackle by Drabik and junior Seth Doyon after a short pass completion.
The Lancer offense finally made it onto the field, at 3:53 of the first quarter, but were in a tough position as they started the game from their own four-yard line.
Their first drive ended at their 10-yard line with a punt, putting Merrimack in very good field position.
The Tomahawks started their second drive of the game at the Lancer 45-yard line.
The first turn over of the game came early in the second quarter, as senior linebacker, Trevor Weinmann, picked off a pass at the LHS 10-yard line, and ran back for just over 30-yards.
The Tomahawks defense held tough again, and LHS wound up turning the ball over on downs as they had an unsuccessful fourth down pass attempt at mid-field.
Merrimack put together another decent drive after the stop, mainly due to the strong play of Hyde. A number of plays had Hyde getting the ball as quarterback and just smashing it up the middle.
The drive eventually ended with a 37-yard wide right, field goal attempt into the wind at 2:32 in the second.
Starting at the 20-yard line, Londonderry committed the second turnover of the game on their first play, with senior quarterback, Drew Heenan’s pass attempt being intercepted at the 40-yard line.
Fortunately, a series of miscues by the Merrimack offensive line pushed their team back to a second down and 35-yards-to-go situation. The drive ended with a punt to the Lancer 27-yard line with a minute and a half left to the half.
The Lancer offense was once again held to very little yards to end the half.
The first kickoff of the second half resulted in another turnover in the favor of LHS. Doyon recovered a botched Merrimack return to start the second half in Tomahawk territory.
Kullman started the drive with a huge rushing gain from the 32-yard line, resulting in the first, first-down of the game for the Lancer offense.
From the 16-yard line the Lancers were able to work their way down the field for the second touchdown of the game. After a successful fourth and two from the eight, Weinmann ran the ball in for a three-yard score to go up 13-0. Drabik made it 14-0 at 8:57 to start the second half.
The second kickoff of the half had the same result for Londonderry, as they recovered another pooch-punt at the 35-yard line.
Londonderry’s second drive wasn’t as successful, as a handoff to senior Anthony Amaro ended up on the turf, where the Merrimack’s Hyde recovered it, giving MHS the ball at the 39-yard line.
That drive also ended in another turnover in the game after Merrimack was putting together another strong drive on the feet of Hyde.
Weinmann got his second interception of the game and put his team at the Merrimack 46-yard line.
The ensuing drive ended with a screen pass completion to Amaro for a 44-yard touchdown. The Drabik extra-point gave LHS a 21-0 lead with 22 seconds left in the third quarter.
The only points given up by the home team were in the fourth quarter, where Hyde had a 16-yard TD four minutes into the final quarter.
Londonderry was content to run the clock down to finish the game for the 21-7 win.
The Lancers only had 129-yards of total offense in the game, while Merrimack was able to finish with 280.
Hyde accounted for much of the Tomahawk’s offense, getting 174 rushing yards on 36 carries and leading in receiving yards with 37 on three catches.
Heenan was only allowed one pass completion in six attempts.
Senior Andrew Soucy led on carries with 32-yard on eight attempts.
Heenan kept the ball 16 times for 27-yards rushing.
Lancer senior, Nathan Pedrick, had 10 tackles and Weinmann finished with eight.
The Lancers will now prepare for their Semifinal game on Saturday, Nov. 19 at 1 p.m. against Pinkerton Academy, who narrowly got by Bishop Guertin with a 14-12 win in their quarterfinal game on Friday night.
If they are successful next weekend, Londonderry will attempt to retain their Division I title at Exeter High School on Saturday, Nov. 26, against either Timberlane (6th seed) or Bedford (10th seed).