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High school football: John Stark steals win away from Laconia in thrilling 16-14 comeback

  • Laconia's Ryan McCrea (40) reaches but the pass is incomplete during a football game at Laconia High School on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. John Stark defeated Laconia, 16-14. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • Members of the Laconia defense takes down John Stark’s Jacob Cole (24) during a 16-14 win for the Generals at Laconia High School on Friday. Elizabeth Frantz / Monitor staff

  • Laconia’s Bradley Weeks (6) reaches for a touchdown catch in the second quarter of a 16-14 loss for the Sachems on Friday.

  • John Stark's Parker McQuarrie (10) makes a throw during a football game at Laconia High School on Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. John Stark defeated Laconia, 16-14. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz—Monitor staff

  • John Stark’s Manuel Biskaduros (26) sprints around Laconia’s Christian Gaspa (2) for a few more yards during a 16-14 win for the Generals at Laconia High School on Friday night. Elizabeth Frantz photos/ Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 9/30/2017 1:02:38 AM

LACONIA – For 40 minutes, Laconia was the better team in every way. For 40 minutes, John Stark’s offense could not complete a deep pass. On defense, the Generals struggled to slow down the Sachems’ running attack.

Forty minutes, and then one play changed it all.

Stark quarterback Parker McQuarrie found senior receiver Jack Baumann wide open down the left sideline for a 70-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. McQuarrie followed it up with a pass to Nickolas Wheeler in the end zone for two points, leading the Generals to a 16-14 win over Laconia before a packed stadium at Fitzgerald Field.

“Eventually we were going to hit on one,” John Stark Coach Rod McQuarrie said of the long throws. “That’s what this team is. We can start out as bad as we did, we go get our stuff together (at halftime), come back and it’s a new team. … We’re feeling pretty good. This is a different group and they’re just so close.”

McQuarrie’s touchdown pass took the air out of the stadium. It was Laconia’s Homecoming game, and for all but the final eight minutes it seemed the Sachems were destined to earn their third win of the year. That tally will have to wait. 

The Generals left Laconia with a new level of confidence. The word “playoffs” could be heard bouncing around the team’s scrum as they celebrated.

“I’m starting to see us as a playoff team,” John Stark center and nose tackle Zach Handy said. “We’re definitely one of the top contenders in this division now.”

Laconia (2-3) took a 14-0 lead with two seconds left in the first half on a hook and lateral that deflated the Generals’ sideline. When Stark (4-1) took possession to start the second half, the Generals went three-and-out and quickly handed the ball back to Laconia.

McQuarrie struggled throwing deep passes most of the night. He was 12 of 29 passing before Laconia made a mistake in coverage and left Baumann wide open sprinting toward the end zone. 

“We were playing great defense the whole game and then just blew our coverage big time,” Laconia Coach Craig Kozens said. “When you play man for 70 snaps, 69 times you’re right and one time you blow your coverage … it happens. That’s football.”

John Stark’s receivers were fast on the Laconia turf, often finding space and beating Laconia’s defensive backs. But McQuarrie, a junior quarterback in his first full season as the starter, was overthrowing his receivers play after play. When Baumann got open, McQuarrie just had to make sure he put the ball in the right spot. He did, and every mistake before it was forgotten.

“It was there all day,” Coach McQuarrie said. “Parker was a bit off early. We had short passes dropped, a few overthrown.”

Jacob Cole reeled in a 5-yard pass from McQuarrie three and a half minutes into the third quarter to put the Generals on the board. Stark then faked its PAT kick attempt and McQuarrie, the holder, turned around and threw to Cole in end zone for two points, cutting Laconia’s lead to 14-8.

But the Sachems were still in control. Kozens called eight rushing plays and one pass on Laconia’s final drive of the fourth quarter, burning nearly five minutes off the clock before punting. 

Stark’s offense was snakebitten to start the fourth. McQuarrie threw two deep passes that both hit the turf. Noah Shastany sacked him on the next play and the Generals were forced to punt for the third time in the half.

On the other side, exhaustion was setting in on the Sachems. Laconia, whose run game was moving the sticks at will through the first three quarters, moved the ball just three yards and kicked it back to Stark, planting them the Generals on their own eight. 

The Generals’ offense finally started to click. McQuarrie completed two passes, moving the line of scrimmage up to Stark’s  30 yard line. With Laconia on its heels, Baumann fired off down his lane, caught the ball, and jogged across the goal line. There wasn’t a defender within 30 yards of him.

“It was definitely a huge emotion changer and a game changer,” Handy said of the play. “Laconia’s got a really good defense and they were hitting (Parker) all day. But Parker just got that ball out there and (Baumann) caught it and ran it for a TD.”

More bad luck set in for Laconia on its next drive as senior quarterback Riley Roy hit the turf on third down with a cramped calf. He hopped off the field and was back out for the next series. Two incomplete passes and a sack on fourth down effectively ended the Sachems’ night. John Stark bled the clock to zero from there.

“We were getting gassed,” Kozens said. “We were a couple linemen short, just patching up our offensive line and then we got tired. They held up most of the game, but I was afraid of that. We lost momentum, and when you lose momentum in this game, it sucks.”

Laconia took total control of momentum in the first quarter when Jakob Steele picked off McQuarrie and took it back 22 yards for a touchdown. 

Later, the Sachems drove 59 yards in 20 seconds to score before halftime. The key play was a hook-and-lateral with Roy throwing to Ryan McCrea along the right sideline. McCrea tossed it back to Bradley Weeks, who carried it another 13 yards to John Stark’s 17. Kozens called a timeout with eight seconds left in the half, and Roy hit Weeks in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown. The PAT put Laconia ahead 14-0.

The Sachems will try to bounce back on the road against Lebanon next Saturday. John Stark, already with playoffs on its mind, will try to win its fifth straight game when the Generals host Pembroke next Saturday.

Preparation begins Monday. For now, the Generals will enjoy this win that seemed so improbable for 40 minutes Friday night in Laconia.

“These guys, they’re giving me a lot of grey hair,” Coach McQuarrie said, laughing. “It was one of the biggest team wins I’ve ever been a part of. No quit in these guys. None.”

(Nick Stoico can be reached at 369-3339, or on Twitter @NickStoico.)


Concord 49,
Manchester Memorial 42

Key players: Concord – Zach Miles (3 passing TDs, rushing TD), Isaac Gladey (2 rushing TDs, INT), Seth Malachi (TD), Jacob Knowels (TD), Gavin Moody (TD)

Highlights/key moments: The Crimson Tide earned its first win of the season on a wild night at Memorial Field. Gladey ran for two first-quarter touchdowns and Miles connected with Spencer Burgess for a 42-yard score as Concord took a 21-6 lead after the first quarter. Malachi’s second-quarter score gave Concord a 28-12 lead at the half, but Memorial cut that to 28-26 by the end of the third. The two teams traded touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but it was Miles who had the last word as he scored on an 8-yard run with :28 left on the clock.

Records: Concord 1-4; Memorial 0-5

Plymouth 49, Merrimack Valley 6

Key players: MV – Braedon Miller (11 carries, 87 yards, TD), Nick Bartlett (15 carries, 53 yards), Harley Huddleston (6 tackles)

Highlights/key moments: Plymouth won its fifth straight to remain unbeaten, but MV Coach Jim Coll was thrilled with his team’s effort, especially on the defensive side. The Pride didn’t give up a first down in the first quarter and got great effort from everyone on that side of the ball.

Coach’s quote: “(Plymouth) is definitely championship material.” – MV’s Jim Coll

Records: Plymouth 5-0; MV 0-5


Salem 3, Concord 2

Key players: Concord – Carly Torrance (goals), Maria Armaganian (playmaker)

Highlights/key moments: Concord controlled play for most of the game, but Salem scored twice in the final 15 minutes to steal the win.

Coach’s quote: “Concord played well for the majority of the game, but it was a great comeback by Salem” – Concord’s Andy Briers

Records: Concord 1-7-1; Salem 4-5

Goffstown 3, Merrimack Valley 1

Key players: MV – Meg Dougherty (goal), Sarah Carter (defense)

Highlights/key moments: Goffstown scored twice during the first half and added another with nine minutes remaining in the second half. Doughtery scored near the end of the game for MV’s only goal.

Records: Merrimack Valley 1-8-1; Goffstown 5-5

Bow 5, John Stark 0

Key players:Bow – Erin Boldwin (goal), Brenna Novakoski (goal), Sonya Delorie (3 goals), Jennie Ess (assist), Elizabeth Guertin (assist), Courtney Baer (10 saves); Stark – Olivia Fatcher (midfield), Kacie Weston (forward), Melina Jackson (17 saves)

Highlights/key moments: Bow dominated the first half and early parts of the second half to cruise to a 5-0 win.

Coach’s quote: “It was a great Homecoming game for Bow field hockey, both offensively and defensively. We had 20 shots on goal and the backfield worked together smoothly. The Generals kept us on our toes with great midfield interceptions.” – Bow’s Rebecca Cleary

“We struggled defensively all day today, but had some really good offensive pushes later in the second half. We got some young players valuable varsity experience as well.” – Stark’s Dennis Pelletier

Records: Bow 5-5; John Stark 1-9

Bishop Brady 1, Newport 0

Key players: Brady – Lauren Roy (goal), Emma Windsor (4 saves), Abby Tremblay (defense)

Highlights/key moments: Roy scored the game’s only goal off a penalty corner at 6:17 of the first half. Newport held a slim 9-8 edge in corners.

Records: Bishop Brady 3-7; Newport 3-7

Gilford 0, Winnisquam 0

Key players: Gilford – Jenna Delucca (2 saves), Laurel Gingrich (good passing throughout game)

Coach’s quote: “Great learning opportunity for the team playing back-to-back overtime games and going 3-0-1 during past seven days.” – Gilford’s Dave Rogacki

Records: Gilford 10-1-1; Winnisquam 6-2-1

Newfound 8, Littleton 1

Key players: Newfound – Julianne Marchand (3 goals), Caroline Marchand (3 goals), Kylee MacDonald (goal), Tiffany Doan (goal), Jasmine Peterson (3 assists)

Highlights/key moments: The game was tied at 1-1 after 11 minutes and it stayed that way for most of the first half. The Bears took a 2-1 lead 17 seconds before halftime and then took control in the second half.

Coach’s quote: “We struggled in the first half, but finally came alive in the second half, where we did not give up a corner or a shot. The first 30 minutes was tough. So important this time of year to never become complacent.” – Newfound’s Karri Peterson

Records: Newfound 10-0; Littleton 2-7


Concord first

Key players: Concord – Sean McDonough (37), Ryan Merchant (39), Matt Hauschild (40), Evan Makris (41), Matt Burns 42

Highlights/key moments: McDonough was the medallist at Rochester Country Club to lead Concord to a 199 team score in the Crimson Tide’s regular-season finale. Spaulding finished with a 223 and Londonderry had a 227. The Tide qualified for the Division I championships on Oct. 10 at Portsmouth Country Club.

Coach’s quote: “This season was a success due to the depth of the team and contributions all season up and down the line up.” – Concord’s Mark McDonough

Records: Concord 13-7; Spaulding 5-13, Londonderry 6-14


John Stark 3, Fall Mountain 0

Key players: Stark – Hannah Chartier (11 kills, 4 aces, 5 digs), Haley Philibotte (10 aces, 12 digs, great service receive), Sarah Wagner (8 kills), Nicole Yelle (24 assists, 3 kills, 4 digs)

Highlights/key moments: Visiting Fall Mountain had early control in the first two games, but timely serving from Philibotte and timing kills from Chartier and Wagner helped the Generals pull out 25-17 and 25-18 wins. Stark led the final game from start to finish and closed the match with a 25-13 decision to extend their winning streak to five.

Coach’s quote: “Tonight we earned the win not playing our best volleyball. The team is learning every match and finding ways to win.” – Stark’s Jeff McClellan

Records: John Stark 7-2; Fall Mountain 1-8

Gilford 3, Plymouth 0

Key players: Gilford – Brooke Beaudet (16 digs, 8 kills), Lexi Boisvert (15 digs, 5 aces), Maggie McNeil (10 kills), Karly Sanborn (21 assists)

Highlights/key moments: The Golden Eagles bounced back from a loss on Wednesday with this 25-20, 25-20, 25-12 win at home, snapping a six-match winning streak for Plymouth. Gilford finished the match with 14 service aces.

Records: Gilford 7-2; Plymouth 7-3

Coe-Brown 3, Pelham 0

Key players: Coe-Brown – Amaya Newport (7 kills), Anneliese Wade (5 kills), Jade Newport (15 assists)

Highlights/key moments: The Bears took care of business at home – 25-3, 25-13, 25-8.

Records: Coe-Brown 7-5; Pelham 1-8

Inter-Lakes 3, Newfound 0

Key players: Inter-Lakes – Emma Wheeler (12 digs, 17 service points, 9 kills), Jessalyn Brown (20 assists, 17 digs, 3 kills), Morgan White (6 kills, 7 service points, 11 digs), Jordan Durand (15 digs, 8 service points, 2 kills)

Highlights/key moments: The Lakers came out on fire in set one, winning 25-6, to set the tone for the match.

Coach’s quote: “Very pleased overall with this solid win. The Lakers used great defense and ball control to dictate the tempo of the match.” – Inter-Lakes’ Randy Mattson

Records: Inter-Lakes 8-0; Newfound 7-3

Hillsboro-Deering 3, Stevens 0

Key players: H-D – Kaelyn Snair (3 kills, 3 aces), Lydia Powell (kill, 3 aces), Meg Wheeler (9 aces, assist, dig), Eva Evans (3 assists, 3 aces), Tempest Pryzbyla (kill)

Highlights/key moments: Wheeler had 18 consecutive serves to close out the first set and give the Hillcats a 25-3 tone-setting win.

Records: Hillsboro-Deering 3-6; Stevens 0-8

Pittsfield 3, Sunapee 1

Key players: Pittsfield – Emma Smith (12 kills, 14 digs, 2 aces), Arianna Cyr (10 kills, 19 digs, 3 aces)

Highlights/key moments: Trailing 14-7 in the fourth game, Pittsfield came back with two runs of five to take the lead, and eventually the game and the match – 24-26, 25-21, 25-19, 25-23.

Coach’s quote: “The girls played their best game of the season. They worked together and didn’t quit even when down. They had a winning mind set and played with determination for the whole match.” – Pittsfield’s Paul Strickhart

Records: Pittsfield 2-4; Sunapee 6-4

Winnisquam 3, Franklin 0

Key players:Winnisquam: Gabby Isabelle (16 kills, 5 digs), Shannon Goodwin (11 kills, 2 aces), Talia DeBlasie (30 assists, 5 aces), Aubrey St. Onge (4 aces), Hannah Blackburn (4 aces), Rebekah Persson (3 aces); Franklin – Lexy Lynch (kill, 2 blocks, 5 digs), Sarah Sorette (6 digs), Fayth Kaspszak (2 aces, dig)

Highlights/key moments: The undefeated Bears rolled to wins of 25-5, 25-12 and 25-14 to earn the Homecoming win.

Coach’s quote: “Everyone got in the game and that’s always nice on Homecoming. There was a consistent level of play, so I was happy with that.” – Winnisquam’s Mike Livernois

“We worked hard as a team. We played great defense.” – Franklin’s Stephanie Shepard

Records:Winnisquam 10-0; Franklin 0-10

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