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Cougars fall to 0-4 after loss to Kearsarge

CV shutout for 3rd time this year, has not scored in last 8 quarters

  • The ConVal football team dropped its homecoming game against Kearsarge, 14-0, on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013.
  • The ConVal football team dropped its homecoming game against Kearsarge, 14-0, on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013.
  • The ConVal football team dropped its homecoming game against Kearsarge, 14-0, on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013.
  • The ConVal football team dropped its homecoming game against Kearsarge, 14-0, on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013.
  • The ConVal football team dropped its homecoming game against Kearsarge, 14-0, on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013.
  • The ConVal football team dropped its homecoming game against Kearsarge, 14-0, on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013.
  • The ConVal football team dropped its homecoming game against Kearsarge, 14-0, on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013.
  • The ConVal football team dropped its homecoming game against Kearsarge, 14-0, on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013.
  • The ConVal football team dropped its homecoming game against Kearsarge, 14-0, on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013.
  • The ConVal football team dropped its homecoming game against Kearsarge, 14-0, on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013.
  • The ConVal football team dropped its homecoming game against Kearsarge, 14-0, on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013.
  • The ConVal football team dropped its homecoming game against Kearsarge, 14-0, on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013.

It was a position that second year ConVal football coach Ryan McCartney has been looking for his young team to be in all season.

Through the first three games, the Cougars’ fate had long been decided by the time the fourth quarter rolled around.

But on Friday night, ConVal had its shot in the final minutes. The deficit was only seven as the Cougars took over at their own 24 with 2:31 remaining in regulation. All ConVal needed was one good drive to extend the game.

Instead, an interception for a touchdown put the score out of reach, as Kearsarge handed ConVal its fourth straight loss to begin the season, 14-0. It was the third time the Cougars have been shut out.

“I hate saying it, but it’s a reality. We’re a young team. But now our young team was in a dog fight, in a close game,” said McCartney. “7-0, down to the wire. Those are the kind of games you want to be in. We just didn’t make enough plays at the end.”

Junior quarterback John Crowley had completed 50 percent of his second half passing attempts leading up to that point and would need to throw it to get the Cougars in a position for a tie.

So after a sack and a five-yard pass to junior Mitchell Hoffman, ConVal faced a third-and-eight from its own 26 yard line.

Crowley looked for junior Brandon Carland in the flat, but the throw was just out of his reach and right into the hands of Kearsarge’s Christian Marsh, who returned the interception 30 yards for the game’s final score.

“We’ve just got to work harder in practice. Work on finishing plays, finishing drives and just getting in the end zone,” said Crowley.

Crowley finished 10-for-26 for 107 yards and two interceptions, the second of which came with 1:14 left as ConVal again tried to make a last minute push for a score.

“We don’t give up and that’s something we like to put emphasis on,” said senior Sean Stinehour.

Kearsarge opened the game with a touchdown on its first possession. Starting at midfield, Kearsarge needed just five plays to take the early 7-0 lead on a 22-yard touchdown run from Cameron Webster.

And while it looked like the start of another very long night for ConVal, the defense had other ideas.

After allowing a combined 120 points through the first three games, including 48 to Milford the week before, the Cougars stood tall the rest of the way. Over Kearsarge’s next four first half possessions, ConVal forced two punts, a fumble that was recovered by senior Ethan Cross and a missed field goal.

“That defense stepped up,” said McCartney. “It was great to see because our defense has been shredded, but they got a little attitude and played hard.”

The missed field goal came after a controversial play for the ConVal offense in the middle of the second. Following Cross’ fumble recovery at the Kearsarge 11 yard line and a personal foul on third down, ConVal had a first-and-goal situation from the half yard line. Crowley snuck it to the right side of the line and appeared to be down, but before a call was made Kearsarge’s Jon Barber emerged from the pile with the ball and returned it 83 yards to the ConVal 17.

“We tried to sneak it up the middle and they stuffed us and pulled the ball out,” said Crowley. “I personally thought I was down, but the refs made the call and you can’t question it.”

That was the second time in the first half that ConVal had been within the Kearsarge 10-yard line and came away with no points.

ConVal sophomore Antoine Halsey recovered a fumbled punt late in the first quarter to give ConVal the ball on Kearsarge’s side of the field.

A fourth down completion of 13 yards to Carland and a pair of Kearsarge penalties kept the ensuing drive alive, but an incompletion on fourth-and-goal kept the Cougars scoreless.

“This one we were that close, so pretty soon I think we’re going to turn the corner and start winning some games,” said Crowley.

On the first possession of the second half, following a fourth down sack by Stinehour, ConVal drove down the field and had two shots at the end zone on third and fourth downs only to come away empty.

“We need to have better practices in general. We need to work more as a team and keep the communication up,” said Stinehour.

Kearsarge had two second half touchdowns called back by penalties.

The ConVal offense accounted for just 128 total yards with only 21 coming on the ground led by senior Riordan McCole’s 14.

Carland made five catches for 61 yards and freshman Liam Baldwin had two receptions for 29 yards.

In addition to his second quarter fumble recovery, Cross led the Cougars with seven tackles followed by sophomore Dillon Obuchowski’s six.

“I think that’s a great game for us and that sounds weird for a loss,” said McCartney. “But when you go out and lose 34-0, 38-14 and 48-0 and then here it’s 7-0 with three minutes to play, that’s a learning experience. That’s going to make us better.”

ConVal travels to Sanborn on Saturday.

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