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Winnisquam springs to life after halftime, beats Farmington-Nute, 38-0

TILTON – By the end of the game, the junior varsity was on the field and everyone was smiling on the Winnisquam sideline. But things were far from joyous for the Bears during halftime of yesterday’s game against Farmington-Nute.

“To put it nicely, they got chewed out,” Winnisquam Coach Pat Riberdy said. “They were playing like the team that showed up last week with just a little improvement, which wasn’t good. So we told them to take ownership of their jobs, stop pointing fingers, stop waiting for your teammates to do everything, and if you can’t do it, we’ll find someone who will.”

The Bears got the message. They scored touchdowns on four of their five third-quarter possessions and forced four second-half turnovers on their way to a 38-0 victory.

“Coach told us we weren’t playing Winnisquam football,” said Andrew Serrano, who ran for 65 yards and two touchdowns and had six tackles and an interception. “So we went out there and started running hard and making our blocks, and once we got that momentum, it was pretty much downhill.”

It was a bounce-back effort from the first half and from last week’s 46-21 loss at Gilford.

“This was way better after getting blown out,” Serrano said. “Last week we came out flatfooted. I think we were maybe a little too cocky because we beat Mascoma (36-22 in the first week) and we just didn’t play our best ball.”

It looked like the Bears (2-1) had learned their lesson at the beginning of yesterday’s game. Clark Roberts knifed into the backfield to recover a dropped snap on the game’s first drive, giving Winnisquam the ball on the Farmington 29. Six plays later, Greg Hunt found Matthew McHugh with a 5-yard touchdown pass to give the Bears a 7-0 lead with 7:22 left in the first quarter.

After that, things turned ugly. The teams combined for eight penalties and five punts for the rest of the half, and neither of them made it inside the other’s 20-yard line. By the end of the first two quarters, the Tigers (0-2) had 97 yards of offense, which isn’t much, but it was better than the 80 yards Winnisquam had accumulated. The stage was set for a serious halftime talk.

“They got browbeat, but they understood it,” Riberdy said. “They came out and cut down on the penalties and really played football, and it showed.”

The Bears drove 64 yards in five plays to start the second half, the last one a 10-yard scoring run from Serrano to make it 13-0. That lead jumped to 20-0 when Serrano went in from 22 yards out with 3:09 left in the third, a play that signaled the end for Farmington.

“Once we started putting up points, you could tell it was wearing them down,” Serrano said.

Three plays after Serrano’s second touchdown, Winnisquam sophomore Tim Harmon picked off Jase Gregoire (2-for-8, 17 yards, two interceptions), giving the Bears the ball on the Farmington 27. That field position quickly turned into a 26-0 lead when Hunt rambled for a 28-yard touchdown run. Serrano came up with another interception moments later, and Christian Serrano (10 carries, 110 yards) finished the landslide with a tackle-shedding 52-yard scoring run that gave the Bears a 32-0 lead with 1:45 remaining in the third quarter.

Cody Rubel returned a punt 40 yards for the game’s final score, but the most important part of the fourth quarter for the Bears was maintaining the shutout.

“Before the game, Coach said he wanted a big goose egg on the scoreboard,” Andrew Serrano said. “We told him we’d give it to him, and we did.”

Winnisquam linebacker Richard Mills finished with a team-high seven tackles, including a sack, while Rubel and Patrick Boyle had four tackles each. Christian Duquette and Hunter Tierney each forced fumbles for the Bears, while Mills and Zander House came up with fumble recoveries. Jamen Gunnison (17 carries, 79 yards) led the Farmington offense, which was shut out for the second straight game.

“We refocused and had a great week of practice this week,” Riberdy said. “The captains really took ownership of the team, and that made my job easier.”

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341 or or on Twitter @timosullivan20.)

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