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Big plays hurt Milford in loss to Goffstown

posted Oct 27, 2012, 6:11 AM by Milford Spartans   [ updated Oct 27, 2012, 6:14 AM ]

The Milford High School football team held an advantage over Goffstown in just about every statistical category Friday night, except the one that really counted.

The Spartans gained almost twice as many yards on offense, ran 26 more plays and held the ball for more than 32 minutes, but it was the Grizzlies who walked away with a 30-28 win thanks to big plays on defense and special teams.

Goffstown (5-1 in Division III, 5-3 overall) scored on a blocked punt, added two more touchdowns off interceptions and set up another touchdown with a long kickoff return.

Milford (4-2, 5-3) managed to hold Goffstown’s Connor Benjamin to 88 yards and one touchdown rushing, and the senior quarterback was just 1 of 10 passing, but that one completion went for a 13-yard touchdown strike just before halftime. The Spartans outgained the Grizzlies, 297-103, ran 69 plays to Goffstown’s 43, and had an 18-minute advantage in time of possession.

In fact, Goffstown’s Ashton Florence had more yards on a kickoff return and a return of an interception in the second quarter (155 combined) than the Grizzlies did on offense.

“We’ve been drilling special teams and defense,” Goffstown coach Justin Hufft said. “I have great coaches that work on that. The last couple of weeks, we’ve been doing better in both areas. We have to be. We can’t win on just offense. We have to be better balanced.”

Milford’s Harrison Urda had 116 yards and two touchdowns on 5 of 9 passing, and ran for a score in the third quarter, but he also threw two interceptions, both of which Goffstown turned into points. Tyler Cooney led Milford with 71 yards and a touchdown rushing, while Mitchell Banuskevich had 62 yards on the ground and caught a 30-yard touchdown pass.

The Spartans had a shot at the win, driving down to the Grizzlies’ 15-yard line, but Banuskevich lost a fumble on third down and Goffstown was able to run out the clock from there.

“We were going to (kick a field goal), but we fumbled,” Milford coach Keith Jones said. “If they had just stopped us, we would have kicked it. (Kicker Morgan Andrews) needed to be on the 20.

“Banuskevich played his tail off and sometimes you make a mistake. Everybody makes it, it’s not just one kid. They made mistakes and we capitalized. We made mistakes and they capitalized.”

Milford got out to a 21-0 lead in the second quarter, scoring on a 1-yard run by Cooney in the first quarter before two Goffstown turnovers led to Urda’s two touchdown passes.

But after Urda hit Evan Perron for an 11-yard score that made it a three-touchdown game, Florence returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards, setting up a 3-yard scoring run by Benjamin.

The Spartans responded by driving to the Goffstown 15-yard line, but Florence intercepted a pass by Urda and returned it 70 yards to the Milford 25, setting up Benjamin’s scoring pass to Christian Marquis.

“We didn’t want to make a stupid mistake and let them back in, and then we let them return a kick,” Jones said. “Then we were going in to score, and it was a tough read. They did a good job rotating the secondary and it was a nice pick. Then we let them run that back down. We gave them some great field position.”

That continued into the third quarter, as the Spartans went three-and-out on their first drive. Milford tried to punt it away, but Perron’s kick was blocked by Ryan Pinard and recovered in the end zone by Connor Wynn to make it 22-21.

On Milford’s next play, Urda was intercepted by Marquis, who returned it to the 18-yard line. Six plays later, Peter Shea ran it in from 6 yards out to put Goffstown up 30-21 with 6:44 left in the third.

The Spartans answered the touchdown with an 18-play, 78-yard drive that ate up 8:43 and ended with Urda’s 1-yard scoring run. After getting a stop near midfield, Milford had one more chance, but the fumble – the Spartans’ third turnover – finished off the win for Goffstown.

“They won the game, so congratulations, but we felt that we needed to do offensively and defensively to win,” Jones said. “There were just too many miscues. That’s what happens when it gets muddy and wet.”
 
Thursday, October 25, 2012   
By JOE MARCHILENA
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