Londonderry Gridders Grab a Satisfying Shutout of Merrimack

Londonderry High defenders swarm Merrimack ball-carrier Ben Eichman during the locals’ shutout victory at LHS last week. Photos by Chris Paul

In the moments following the Londonderry High football squad’s 21-0 white-washing of the visiting Merrimack High Tomahawks at LHS Friday night, Oct. 6, it was possible to look in any direction and see players and coaches of the squad in celebration.

In trying to sum up the Lancers’ performance of their second consecutive shutout victory, the ideal word might be “satisfying.” LHS coach Jimmy Lauzon was understandably over the moon after witnessing the performance which his now 5-1 Lancers put forth in moving forward to a strong season record.

“We told the guys all week that Merrimack might have the best player (Joe Eichman), but we have the better team. And I think we showed that tonight,” said coach Lauzon.

The versatile senior, Eichman, and his younger brother Ben were unquestionably the now 3-3 Tomahawks’ most effective weapons in the contest, in which they suffered their third loss in their last four games. But neither Eichman was productive enough to push their team to victory.

Londonderry tallied 241 rushing yards and 75 passing yards for a total of 316 offensive yards. The Tomahawks notched 208 total yards on 116 ground yards and 92 through the passing game.

Joe Eichman caught five passes for 44 yards and ran it seven times for 43. Brother Ben, who began the game as the Merrimack quarterback and notched 74 rushing yards on nine carries during the first two periods, moved to a wide receiver position for the second half and finished with six catches for 41 yards to go with his 81 total rushing yards.

The Lancers, meanwhile, got their biggest effort from standout sophomore running back Jeff Wiedenfeld, who tallied 129 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries.

Wiedenfeld had 50 rushing yards at halftime, but went for 79 more and his two scores in a big second half effort.

Another key factor in the Lancers’ victory was their opponent’s propensity for handing the football over on huge turnovers.

Merrimack lost the ball a total of four times on three fumbles and one interception, with the Lancers subsequently scoring following two of those four big turnovers. Londonderry only suffered one turnover in the victory on an interception at the very end of the first half, so Merrimack was unable to score as a result.

“We call turnovers drive-killers, but we’ve done a good job of taking care of the ball this season,” said Lauzon. “Last year it was us that had the drive-killers, so we know how much they can hurt.”

The Lancers put their opponent’s first “drive-killer” to great use early in the second quarter after having senior linebacker Jack Connors scoop up a fumble at the Merrimack 43-yard-line with 2:34 to go in the first period.

The hosts then needed 11 plays – with one touchdown being nullified by an offensive pass interference penalty – to put up six points on an 11-yard pass from quarterback Mike McAlister to Tyler Kayo less than two minutes into the second stanza.

LHS kicker Pat Zepf added the extra point to make it a 7-0 game, and that’s where the score would sit when the two teams adjourned for halftime.

Merrimack’s first offensive series of the second half would end with another important turnover, a fumble which would be recovered by Lancer Ben Johnson with 9:07 to go in quarter three. And a little less than six minutes later the hosts would find themselves celebrating an 11-play drive which would cover 76 yards and culminate with a 7-yard scoring sprint by Wiedenfeld.

And the Londonderry lead would bulge to 21-0 with an eight-play drive which would come to a successful close when Wiedenfeld pushed three yards to pay-dirt with 10:39 left in the contest.

Along with his team’s fine offensive and defensive showings, coach Lauzon was wildly-complimentary about the efforts of his special teams units in the pleasing win.

“Our special teams did an unreal job tonight. We didn’t give (Merrimack) any good chances on punts or kickoffs, and that was something we were extremely conscious of,” said the coach.

The Londonderry gridders next look at a Friday night, Oct. 13 home match-up with a scuffling Alvirne Broncos’ crew which steps into that fray with a 1-5 record. The Hudson squad has been outscored 228-60 in those six games, allowing an average of 37.5 points per game to its opponents while scoring precisely 10 per contest.

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