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Gilford/Belmont football uses creativity, community and 5 interceptions to top Pembroke, 28-7

  • Gilford/Belmont senior running back Austin Normandin breaks a tackle against Pembroke on Saturday night under the lights at The Meadows in Gilford. Normandin rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, while catching seven passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. The Gilford/Belmont Eagles beat Pembroke, 28-7. Courtesy of Angela Pouliot

  • Pembroke’s Alex Francoeur (84) looks for a seam in the Gilford/Belmont defense while Pacey Graham (33) make a block during Saturday night’s game at The Meadows in Gilford. Courtesy of Angela Pouliot

  • Pembroke’s Alex Francoeur (84) breaks away from the Gilford/Belmont defense during a game on Saturday night at The Meadows in Gilford. Courtesy of Angela Pouliot

  • Gilford/Belmont running back Austin Normandin charges up the field as Pembroke’s Joe Fitzgerald (21) pursues on Saturday night. Angela PouliotCourtesy

  • Gilford/Belmont’s Logan Grant (left) hauls in a pass from quarterback Isaiah Reese while Pembroke’s John Holler defends. Grant scored a touchdown on the play, but it was called back after Gilford/Belmont was penalized for a false start. Courtesy of Angela Pouliot

  • Gilford/Belmont quarterback Isaiah Reese runs into the end zone for a 13 yard touchdown. Reese rushed 15 times for 72 yards and a touchdown, while throwing 8-for-15, passing for 75 yards and another touchdown. The Eagles beat Pembroke, 28-7, to improve to 2-0. Courtesy of Angela Pouliot

Monitor staff
Published: 9/12/2021 4:27:10 PM

GILFORD – It had been a tough week for the Gilford/Belmont football team and community. Gilford High student and Gilmanton resident Aydin Kutuk – a friend and teammate (in other sports) to many on the team – passed away in the previous week. It took creativity, community and grit – both on and off the field – but the Gilford/Belmont football team ended the week with a victory.

Senior running back Austin Normandin (102 rush yards on 15 carries, seven catches for 71 yards) scored a pair of touchdowns, sophomore quarterback Isaiah Reese (8-for-15, 71 passing yard, 72 rush yards) used his athleticism and creativity to turn broken plays into highlight reel moments and the Eagles defense had five interceptions as Gilford/Belmont defeated Pembroke (0-2), 28-7, under the lights at The Meadows to improve to 2-0.

“It was an emotional week,” Eagles head coach Josh Marzahl said. “Some of the guys had a couple days off so they could be where they needed to be. They latched onto the idea of doing this for their friend.”

The Pembroke defense was sharp early thanks to big plays from senior Caleb Young and junior Aiden Weldon (teamed up for two sacks), and senior Jovani Bova (fumble recovery, broke up a pass in the end zone), but Gilford/Belmont was able to convert its takeaways into points.

Senior Riley Marsh had the first two Eagle interceptions, returning both of them to give his offense good field position.

Gilford/Belmont had a touchdown called back on a penalty after Marsh’s first interception, but the second pick set up Normandin’s 10-yard touchdown reception from Reese with 8:25 left in the half to put the Eagles up 7-0.

Junior Michael Kitto had the third interception, putting Gilford/Belmont in range of the end zone again, but a missed field goal from 34 yards kept the score 7-0 at halftime.

“All week we talked about Pembroke’s ability to pass the ball,” Marzahl said. “We felt that we if were able to stop (Pembroke running back Alex Francoeur, who had 90 rushing yards) on the run we could get them in passing situations. Our defensive coordinator Mo Reese – Isaiah’s dad – did a good job making sure they were where they needed to be on defense this week.”

All three second-half scores by the Eagles came on running plays by Reese (13-yard run in the third quarter), Normandin (21 yards in the fourth) and Kitto (1-yard run in the fourth).

The Spartans showed their resiliency, with junior quarterback Logan Sarrasin (9-for-28, 138 passing yards) connecting on an 87-yard bomb to junior Charlie Ransom (three receptions), setting up a 3 yard catch by Ransom to cut the deficit to 14-7, even though Sarrasin had thrown four interceptions already (sophomore Hutch Haskins had two picks in the second half).

“He doesn’t get rattled,” Pembroke head coach Will Moher said. “We all have a lot to work on, but things like that show me what they’ve got inside.”

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