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ConVal gets revenge in OT thriller

  • ConVal receiver Makeen Wilson goes up for a pass in the Cougars’ 17-14 win against Milford on Friday. Mark Obuchowski Photo

  • The Milford sideline reacts to a fumble in ConVal’s 17-14 overtime win against the Spartans on Friday. Mark Obuchowski Photo



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, September 04, 2017

ConVal knew what was coming. They’d seen it all through Friday’s game.  They saw the power toss back in the fourth quarter, when Maverick Dodier, a 6-foot, 185-pound wingback took the ball 28 yards for a game-tying score and forced overtime.

They saw the same play, to Dodier again, on first down from the 10-yard line for the Spartans first possession in overtime.

“That’s a good play,” said Scott Stanley to a teammate after Dodier got six yards.

So when Milford, behind three points, facing a crucial fourth-and-two to win the season opener, most of the Cougars defense had a hunch about what play was coming.

After Milford quarterback Zack King tossed the ball to out to Josh Shaw, who ran wide toward the right pylon, the already-shifted defense collapsed toward him, leaving Zach Obuchowski to make a game-winning tackle at the six-yard line to give ConVal a 17-14 win in its season opener.

It was the last of dozens of big plays by the Cougars defense, which forced three turnovers held the Spartans to under 125 yards of offense in the second half on Milford’s home field.

“They really dominated the line of scrimmage for a lot of the night and took us out of what we like to do,” said Milford coach Keith Jones.

Three ConVal players (Daniel Curran, Clayton Coons and Jake Phillips) had more than 10 tackles, with Phillips leading the way with 15.

“The defense was phenomenal. The offense did just enough to win the game,” Cougars coach Paul Landau said.

It was a defensive play that may have helped ConVal discover a new offensive weapon.

With the Cougars down 7-0, senior defensive back Makeen Wilson made an acrobatic interception on the sideline in the second quarter.

On the next possession Wilson, at wide receiver, made a diving grab off a tipped ball from quarterback Keenan Wilson, who was in after starter Dan Spezzaferri had to leave the game for a play when his helmet came off. The 33-yard catch set up a 16-yard touchdown run for bruising running back Scott Stanley  (who was ConVal’s other offensive bright spot, rushing for 94 yards on 16 carries).

“I don’t know where that came from, he’s made couple catches like that, but never that many,” said Stanley of Wilson, who played behind standout receivers Liam Baldwin and Isaac Bacon last year.

Wilson finished with four catches for 114 yards and a touchdown.

“Makeen made some outstanding catches and he wanted the ball, which was big,” Landau said.

Spezzaferri, who went 6-for-21 for 116 yards and a touchdown and was sacked six times, tried to go back to Wilson in the fourth quarter as the Cougars attempted to put the game away, but couldn’t connect. Then, Milford started lining up two defenders on Wilson and the ConVal offense stalled.

Late in the fourth quarter, a couple of poor punting plays set up good field position for the Spartans, who took advantage with Dodier’s overtime-forcing touchdown run with 3:44 left to play. 

ConVal’s offensive struggles continued into its first and only possession in overtime. After a holding penalty, the Cougars could only get to the 9-yard line.  So Landau figured he better go talk to his rookie kicker, sophomore Andrew Skillings.

In Landau’s four years as coach, he could only recall his team converting one field goal, so he was looking for some encouragement.

“I turned to (Skillings) on third down and said, ‘Are you good if we need you?’ and he said, ‘Yes, coach,’” Landau said.

One play later, Skillings stuck the ball through the uprights for a 26-yard field goal that ended up being the game-winning points, thanks to ConVal’s defensive awareness and Obuchowski’s tackle.

“That was a huge moment for that kid,” Landau said.