Football: Bow is no match for Bright, Souhegan in quarterfinal loss

Bow's Caleb Schumacher (2) looks to block Souhegan’s JJ Bright (right) as teammate Gavin McCabe (35) runs with the ball during a Division II quarterfinal game on Friday night in Amherst. Souhegan won 54-6.

Bow's Caleb Schumacher (2) looks to block Souhegan’s JJ Bright (right) as teammate Gavin McCabe (35) runs with the ball during a Division II quarterfinal game on Friday night in Amherst. Souhegan won 54-6. JOE MARCHILENA  / NH-HighSchoolSports.com

Bow’s Owen Boullion (84) brings down Souhegan’s Liam Fisher (23) during a Division II football quarterfinal on Friday night in Amherst. Souhegan won 54-6.

Bow’s Owen Boullion (84) brings down Souhegan’s Liam Fisher (23) during a Division II football quarterfinal on Friday night in Amherst. Souhegan won 54-6. JOE MARCHILENA / NH-HighSchoolSports.com

By DAN ATTORRI

Monitor staff

Published: 11-04-2023 9:06 AM

AMHERST – Taking down one of Division II’s best football programs would take a near perfect game. But Bow went three-and-out and was forced to put on the first possession of the game and Souhegan’s JJ Bright scored on a 48-yard touchdown on his team’s first play from scrimmage to set the tone as the No. 6 Bow Falcons (5-5) fell on the road to the No. 3 Sabers (8-1), 54-6, in the Division II quarterfinals

Bright, the top rusher in D-II, ran for 156 yards and three touchdowns on six carries, and Souhegan quarterback Romy Jain went 5-for-10 with 118 passing yards and a touchdown, plus a pair of rushing touchdowns and 44 yards on three carries to lead the Sabers to a commanding 33-0 lead at halftime.

The Falcons did a decent job running the ball, led by sophomore Caleb Schumacher (53 yards on 11 carries) and senior captain Gavin McCabe (39 yards on 10 carries), but three turnovers and several penalties prevented Bow from finding the end zone.

On the third play from scrimmage in the third quarter, Jain ran in his second TD of the game from 38 yards outs to make it 40-0.

Falcon junior Thomas Schlegel returned the ensuing onside kickoff attempt 60 yards to the end zone for Bow’s only points of the game.

Souhegan’s Michael Fiengo (63 yards on four carries) scored two more touchdowns on the ground in the third quarter to cap the scoring.

The Sabers look to get back to the D-II championship game after losing to Pelham in last year’s final and will face the winner of No. 2 Plymouth vs. No. 7 John Stark in next weekend’s semifinal.

The season is over for Falcons, who secured a playoff berth on the last day of the regular season with a field goal in overtime against Laconia just one week ago.

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It also marks the end of the careers for seniors Josiah Funches, Eli Wilkening, Gavin McCabe, Ryan McCabe, Matt Lyon, Josh Boufford, Sean Nicholls, Roy Zahn, Nick Robie, Parker Hill, Jared Dolder and Owen Boullion.

“To the seniors, thank you for another memorable season on the gridiron,” Bow head coach Paul Cohen said.

It’s a much smaller and less experienced group of seniors than the 15 seniors – nine of them All-State players – who graduated from the team at the end of the 2022 season when the Falcons reached the semifinals.

“Certainly the end of a season due to a playoff loss is difficult, especially for the seniors,” head coach Paul Cohen said. “Still, I am proud of the accomplishments of Bow football 2023 – another winning season and playoff appearance. When the season began, I knew I had a young team, and lower numbers than usual. This group of adolescent athletes decided to make their statement, not through an undefeated season, but instead, literally grinding it out week after week with some exciting finishes. Never a dull moment from this team, I want to acknowledge their labor, effort, and desire.”