Bow football endures first loss of season in D-II semifinals

  • Bow High’s Thomas Rolla (15) runs through the hole for a big gain during the Division II semifinals against Hollis Brookline on Saturday in Bow. The Cavaliers handed Bow its first loss of the year, 34-14. RICH MIYARA / NH Sports Photography

  • Bow’s Christopher Wheeler (62) takes down Hollis Brookline quarterback Sander Wimmer during Saturday’s Division II semifinals in Bow. The Cavaliers defeated No. 1 Bow, 34-14. RICH MIYARA / NH Sports Photography

  • Bow’s Andrew Bliss (22) and Sebastian Beaulieu tackle Hollis Brookline quarterback Sander Wimmer (14) during Saturday’s Division II semifinals in Bow. The Cavaliers handed the Falcons their first loss of the season, 34-14. RICH MIYARA / NH Sports Photography

  • Bow quarterback Sebastian Beaulieu (12) rolls out to pass during Saturday’s Division II semifinal against Hollis Brookline in Bow. The Falcons lost to the Cavaliers, 34-14. RICH MIYARA / NH Sports Photography

Monitor staff
Published: 11/16/2019 8:24:29 PM

BOW – The Bow football team entered Saturday’s Division II semifinal game without a single loss, but the Falcons knew No. 5 Hollis Brookline (9-2) would show them things they hadn’t seen yet this season.

The top-ranked Falcons hadn’t faced a two-score deficit. The Falcons hadn’t faced a quarterback quite as versatile, nor an offense as efficient.

But Bow (10-1) saw all of those things on Saturday, falling to the Cavaliers, 34-14.

“It’s unfortunate we weren’t able to play our brand of football,” Bow head coach Paul Cohen said. “They bested us today. That’s a hard lesson, especially when you have an undefeated season. This team has not faced what defeat feels like since last year when we lost a (quarterfinal) playoff game. Anytime that happens it stings, it really does.”

Cohen knew that Hollis Brookline’s main weapon was the team’s quarterback – Sander Wimmer – and he lived up to the hype, engineering three scoring drives on the Cavaliers first four possessions of the game.

Wimmer completed 8 of 10 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown, plus he ran for 45 yards and a touchdown on six carries in the first half to help Hollis build a 20-7 lead with 6:15 left in the first half.

Marc-Andre Thermitus (three touchdowns, 101 rush yards on 14 carries) scored on a 2-yard run up the middle to give the Cavs a 6-0 lead on game’s opening drive, but Bow’s Steven Guerrette punched in a 4-yard score and Andrew Robbins connected on the PAT on the next to give the Falcons a 7-6 lead – their only lead of the game – with 3:02 left in the first quarter.

Wimmer connected with Blake Bergerson on a 32-yard pass on the first play from scrimmage in the second quarter and Wimmer scored on a 4-yard keeper to wrap up Hollis Brookline’s first-half scoring.

“Their quarterback is a very talented ball player and he was able to pick us apart,” Cohen said. “We had faced some pretty good quarterbacks from time to time over the course of the season, but he is on another level – and it showed.”

Wimmer finished the game 11-for-16 with 93 passing yards and 111 rushing yards on 14 carries, and was supported by several receivers, including Bergerson (four catches for 49 yards), Thermitus (two catches for 22 yards), AJ Johnson (2 catches for 11 yards, eight rush yards on two carries) and Shea Philbrick (15-yard catch).

“We had a great week preparing for this thing,” Hollis Brookline head coach Chris Lones said. “We knew it was a huge challenge and we knew we’d have to be physical. We knew (Bow) was going to be physical. That’s what (Bow does). So we’d have to match that intensity and maintain our composure along the way and they did exactly that.”

Despite a strong Hollis offensive line that out-muscled the Falcons for large portions of the game, Bow’s stable of backs – Guerrette (114 yards on 23 carries), Thomas Rolla (84 yards on 14 carries), Robbins (21 yards on five carries) and quarterback Sebastian Beaulieu (seven yards on six carries) – chewed up the last six minutes of the first half on a drive that ended with a 5-yard scoring run from Robbins that cut the Falcons’ deficit to 20-14 at halftime.

Bow started the second half with the ball, but got nowhere on its opening drive.

Wimmer led the Cavs on another drive deep into Falcons territory, but Beaulieu intercepted a pass in the end zone.

Bow made some headway with a strong running game, but Guerrette fumbled the ball around Hollis Brookline’s 40-yard line.

The Falcons’ defense forced the Cavs into a fourth-and-2, but Hollis spread the field with a five-receiver set and Wimmer ran the ball 41 yards to the Bow 5 and Thermitus scored his second touchdown on the next play to put the Cavaliers up 27-14 with 53 seconds left in the third.

Bow went for it on fourth down twice in the fourth quarter, but Guerrette’s run on fourth-and-5 fell three yards shy of the first-down marker and Beaulieu was sacked by Hollis Brookline’s Adam Slater on a fourth-and-2.

Thermitus broke free for an 18-yard run for his third touchdown to put the Cavaliers up 34-14 with 1:33 left in the game and Beaulieu (3-for-7, 11 yards) was sacked by Slate and Quinn Connors to quell any hopes of a scoring drive.

“It’s always sad when seniors’ careers come to a close – and unfortunately on our home field for their proverbial last hurrah,” Cohen said. “This group of athletes – that has produced so well through the course of the autumn – ended (their careers) today. We did not play our brand of football and we made too many fundamental errors and (Hollis) capitalized on anything that we gave them. Hats off to Hollis, they played well.”

The No. 5 Cavaliers have pulled off two big upsets this postseason, routing No. 4 Kennett, 49-21, in the quarterfinals and upsetting No. 1 Bow in the semifinals, but will need a third to claim the D-II title.

Despite being ranked higher than the other finalist – No. 6 Plymouth – Hollis is appearing in its first championship game in program history, while the No. 6 Bobcats have won the last three D-II titles.

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