ConVal football drops finale in OT

The ConVal football team saw its season come to an end on Friday with a 14-12 overtime loss at Pembroke.

The Cougars finished with a 4-6 record overall and 2-6 in Division III play.

“I still say that 4-6 in the first season is a good start,” said first-year coach Ryan McCartney. “And we came nine points away from being 6-4.”

Trailing 6-0 with five minutes left in the fourth quarter, senior Andy Bennett blocked a Pembroke punt and senior Riley Thompson recovered the ball to give ConVal a chance deep in Spartans territory. Senior Jeremy Doubleday connected for a 25-yard touchdown pass with junior Riordan McCole to tie the game at six. The Cougars’ extra point attempt was blocked to push the game into overtime.

“We convert that and the game is over,” said McCartney.

Pembroke scored first in the extra period and converted its two-point attempt for a 14-6 lead. ConVal responded with a 4-yard touchdown run from Doubleday, but missed the two-point conversion that would have forced a second overtime.

The Cougars had a chance to tie the game with their first drive of the third quarter, which started at the 4-yard line, but a fumble inside the Pembroke 10 kept them off the scoreboard. The Spartans scored their first touchdown off a trick play in the second quarter.

Entering the season finale, ConVal was on a three-game winning streak. The team began the year with a win over Division II Merrimack, but then lost five straight divisional games, four of which came against playoff teams. But a 24-7 win over Hollis/Brookline on Oct. 13 got them back on the winning track. The Cougars then posted back-to-back shutouts over Merrimack Valley, 47-0, and Division V Sanborn, 17-0.

“They really did turn the program around,” said McCartney. “The kids learned how to win.”

Since halftime of the Oct. 5 meeting with Alvirne, the ConVal defense had allowed just one touchdown in the previous 15 quarters and were on a streak of nine straight scoreless frames before Pembroke’s second-quarter score.

“The defense was outstanding again,” McCartney said. “I don’t care what level you’re playing at or who you’re playing; that’s good defense.”

In the final five games, ConVal were plus-12 in the turnover differential, including a two-to-one advantage in Friday’s game with a blocked punt and senior Noah Powers’ third-quarter interception.

The Cougars were 1-8 in each of the last two seasons. They will graduate 13 seniors.

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