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Bishop Brady football team misses chance to clinch home field with loss to Epping

  • Bishop Brady's Spenser Sloane reaches for a reception past Epping's Kyle Cawley in the game between the schools at Memorial Field in Concord on Friday, October 25, 2013. Epping-Newmarket won 33-21.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

    Bishop Brady's Spenser Sloane reaches for a reception past Epping's Kyle Cawley in the game between the schools at Memorial Field in Concord on Friday, October 25, 2013. Epping-Newmarket won 33-21.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

  • Bishop Brady's Matt Tetu slides past Epping-Newmarket's Alex Souvannaseng and into the end zone to score a touchdown for Brady during the game between the schools on Friday, October 25, 2013 at Memorial Field.  Epping-Newmarket won, 33-21.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

    Bishop Brady's Matt Tetu slides past Epping-Newmarket's Alex Souvannaseng and into the end zone to score a touchdown for Brady during the game between the schools on Friday, October 25, 2013 at Memorial Field. Epping-Newmarket won, 33-21.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

  • Bishop Brady's Spenser Sloane reaches for a reception past Epping's Kyle Cawley in the game between the schools at Memorial Field in Concord on Friday, October 25, 2013. Epping-Newmarket won 33-21.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)
  • Bishop Brady's Matt Tetu slides past Epping-Newmarket's Alex Souvannaseng and into the end zone to score a touchdown for Brady during the game between the schools on Friday, October 25, 2013 at Memorial Field.  Epping-Newmarket won, 33-21.<br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor Staff)

Football teams don’t usually practice the day after a game. But that’s exactly where you’ll find Bishop Brady this morning after last night’s 33-21 loss to Epping-Newmarket.

“We’ve got practice at 9:30 and we’ve got to start over,” Brady Coach Greg Roberts said. “The opportunity came and went, unfortunately. They know it. We don’t have to tell them. We had already done all the talking, we had already done all the preparations, and we didn’t execute.”

What the Green Giants had the opportunity to do was clinch first place in Division III East and guarantee themselves a home playoff game when they face this same Epping team in two weeks. (The two schools are locked into the top two spots in the conference.) Instead, Brady committed five turnovers, missed an embarrassment of tackles and got steamrolled by Epping senior Joe Leclerc (234 yards and four touchdowns on 26 carries), and now the Blue Devils have the inside track on home-field advantage.

If Epping (3-4) can beat Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough (3-3) next week, or if Brady (3-4) loses to Franklin (0-6), the Devils will host the Giants in the quarterfinals/conference championship game on Nov. 9. If Epping loses next week, and Brady beats Franklin, the Giants will host the Devils.

“We’re playing them again in two weeks, that’s a given, and that was part of the game, playing for two weeks,” Roberts said. “So now we put ourselves in a hole and we’ve got to figure out how to get out. We’re going to have to play a pretty good team to get out of the hole and they’re not going to want us to get out, so that’s going to be a tough climb.”

“I was stressing to the seniors all week if they wanted one more game at home, then this is the one we really needed and then we need to take care of next week to make that happen,” Epping Coach Ross Salovitch said. “So we’ll get back to work on Monday and hopefully continue with this good taste in our mouth.”

After both teams fumbled the ball away early in the first quarter, Bishop Brady finally found the handle and the scoring touch when Matt Tetu took a short screen pass from Brendan Johnson (8-for-14, 169 yards, two touchdowns, interception) and turned it into a 42-yard touchdown. But on the very next play from scrimmage, Leclerc broke through a gang of tackles for a 66-yard scoring run, and after the two-point conversion, the Devils led 8-7 with 2:44 left in the opening quarter.

That lead went to 14-7 when Leclerc scored from 5 yards out on the first play of the second quarter, but then it was Brady’s turn for the quick reply. After a 30-yard kickoff return from freshman Moses Murenzi, the Giants went 47 yards in three plays, most of that yardage coming on a 33-yard scoring pass from Johnson to Tetu that made it 14-13 with 8:50 remaining in the first half.

Brady threatened to take the lead on its next possession, but Leclerc picked off Johnson on the Epping 5 to end the drive.

The Devils took their one-point lead into halftime, but they didn’t waste much second-half clock before adding to it. Leclerc went 63 yards on the third play of the third quarter to bring his team to the Brady 2, and Alex Santos scored from there, giving Epping a 20-13 lead.

The Brady defense tightened after that, but the Giants ran into some bad luck near the end of the third quarter. It looked like Amish Giri had stopped an Epping drive when he defended a pass on third-and-13 near midfield, but the play was ruled an interception and then a fumble by Giri, which gave the Devils a first down.

Epping took advantage of the extra life and eventually scored on a fourth-and-goal from the Brady 1 to make it 27-13 with 5:34 left in the game. That might have been enough time for a comeback, except the Giants fumbled on their next drive and then Leclerc burst for a 52-yard touchdown on a third-and-13 to put the game out of reach. Johnson did find Andrew Jousset with a 33-yard touchdown pass after that, but there was only 32 seconds left on the clock by then.

“I was impressed with Epping,” Roberts said. “They hit, they ran the ball, and Leclerc was the best player on the field for the most part. He wanted to win and he won the game.”

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

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