Crimson Tide’s explosive offense makes up for porous defense
Concord quarterback, Robert Law, stretches for the endzone resulting in a touchdown before being tackled by Manchester Memorial players during the homecoming football game at Memorial Field on Saturday afternoon, September 28, 2013.
(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)
Concord's Leo Sudieh, right, breaks a tackle by Manchester Memorial's Isaac Velez before stepping out of bounds on a run during the homecoming football game at Memorial Field on Saturday afternoon, September 28, 2013.
(JOHN TULLY / Monitor staff)
After the initial post-game talk, there was another meeting for the Concord High football team following yesterday’s 69-41 win over Manchester Memorial. This huddle involved only the defense, and it wasn’t pleasant.
“It was definitely a reality check and a wake-up call for us,” said linebacker Marc Gaudet, one of the senior captains who called the extra post-game meeting. “We knew we were going to come out and put up a lot of points, but to give up 41 points in a game, that’s not what we’re about, and we’re not happy about it.”
The 110 total points is the most ever in a Concord High game, and the Crimson Tide’s 69 points is the second-highest total ever for a Concord team, behind only the 81 the Tide put up against Portsmouth way back in 1918.
While Memorial (1-3) did score first, Concord (4-0) was never in real danger of losing. The Tide led 14-7 after the first quarter, 42-21 at halftime and sent the game into running time with 8:36 left in the third quarter after a 55-yard fumble return for a touchdown from Gaudet made it 63-28. And even though giving up 41 points was disconcerting, especially for a team that was allowing just 6.3 points per game coming into the contest, the Tide’s reaction to those points was encouraging.
“It’s a great group of kids and their work ethic is second to none that I’ve been around,” Concord Coach Eric Brown said. “We win the homecoming game and I hear the captains call the defense over and talk about how much work we’ve got to do next week, and that, from a coaching standpoint, is awesome. I like to hear that.”
While the Tide gained most of its yards on the ground (375 rushing yards, 113 passing), the Crusaders’ offense came almost exclusively through the air. They finished with 392 passing yards but just 35 rushing yards, and that ground total was in the negatives until a 43-yard run during garbage time.
“We just haven’t had a team come out and try to pass all over us, so we’ve been exposed,” Gaudet said. “That’s our weakness right now and we’re going to do everything we can to fix that weakness.”
Memorial quarterback Stephen Deane (15-for-27, 371 yards, three touchdowns) found Mohamed Elhassan with a 5-yard touchdown pass to cap a nine-play, game-opening drive and give his team a 7-0 lead with 8:08 left in the first. The Crusaders then revealed their all-in approach with an onside kick, which they recovered. But the Tide defense held this time, and the offense answered with touchdowns on three straight possessions – a 23-yard run from Robert Law, a 3-yard run from Leo Sudieh (game-high 129 yards on eight carries) and a 13-yard run from Gaudet – to take a 22-7 lead with 8:21 to go in the second quarter.
The next five minutes were wild as the two teams made four trips to the end zone. Memorial scored on a 53-yard screen pass from Deon Ball (five catches, 153 yards) and a 55-yard reception from Isaac Velez (four catches, 144 yards), while the Tide’s points came from a 15-yard pass from Law (7-for-11, 113 yards) to Bakir Bascelic and an 85-yard kickoff return from Sudieh. The Tide defense got a stop after that, and the offense capitalized with a quick four-play, 60-yard drive that ended with an 11-yard run from Sudieh to take that 42-21 halftime lead.
“We couldn’t ask for any more from Leo Sudieh,” Gaudet said. “He’s a young kid (sophomore), but he’s been doing amazing things for us.”
The Crusaders tried another onside kick to start the second half, but the Tide was ready and recovered this one. And it took Concord all of one play to implement its offensive halftime adjustments as Walters Ndi (six carries, 79 yards) went off tackle right, made one jump cut, and used his speed to cover 52 yards for a touchdown.
“We noticed what they were doing with their line and I started seeing some stuff I hadn’t seen before,” Ndi said. “I just ran hard and was hoping to see the end zone.”
Memorial did respond with a 6-yard scoring run from Peter Abood to make it 49-28 with 10:02 left in the third, but Concord quickly squashed any hopes of a full comeback with a pair of touchdowns from Gaudet. The first was an easy 3-yard run and the second was the 55-yard fumble return where Gaudet stripped, scooped and scored all on his own.
“We work on strips a lot and I just got lucky and pulled it out and picked it up,” he said.
Concord’s final points came on a 13-yard rush from Tyler Martel while Memorial got a pair of scoring runs from backup quarterback Daquan Henclewood.
The Tide now heads into the thick of its schedule with a home game next week against Londonderry, followed by a trip to Pinkerton and then a matchup against currently undefeated Bedford on Oct. 18.
“We’ve got three in a row that should be testers,” Brown said. “It’s certainly the tougher part of our schedule, so we’ve got our work cut out for us and we’ll find out how good we are in the next few weeks.”
(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @timosullivan20.)