Windham Jaguars Football '17

Unbeaten Windham stunned by No. 8 Bow

WINDHAM — All week long, Bill Raycraft had a message for his football team: Get ready for a fight. 

The Jaguars rolled through an undefeated regular season, but when the Division 2 playoff pairings came out, Raycraft knew No. 1 ranked Windham had drawn a worthy adversary. 

"Out of everybody we wanted to see, Bow was not one of them," Bill Raycraft said. "They are not your typical eight seed." 

Bow certainly proved that yesterday, knocking off the top-seeded Jaguars, 20-15 in a smash-mouth quarterfinal thriller.

"Coming in as the eight seed, no one expected us to win," Bow coach Paul Cohen said. "I said to (my team), 'You've got nothing to lose. You're in the playoffs. A lot of you guys are veterans.' Some of these seniors have been playing in the playoffs for three years straight now."

One of Bow's seniors was clutch with game on the line. 

Trailing 15-14, quarterback Matt Harkins got the ball at his own 48 yard line with 1:21 to play. The captain had been 1-of-12 passing prior to the drive, but he wasn't fazed. Harkins was brilliant on Bow's final drive. 

He found Steven Guerrette for a big-gainer over the middle, picking up 32 yards on a post pattern, then calmly set his offense and spiked the ball with 45 seconds to play. 

"I had good confidence," Harkins said. "We have a lot of All-State players, especially on the line, so I knew I had my protection. I just had to let the game come to me, read the defense and see who was open."

Getting deeper into Windham territory with 45 seconds on the clock, Cohen trusted his quarterback to make the right call. 

The Falcons called a rollout, where Harkins' first read was to tuck it and run. When that wasn't there, the quarterback took a step back and fired a bullet into the end zone, hitting senior Mark Borak for the go-ahead, 23-yard touchdown with 37 seconds to play.

"That was exemplary, absolutely exemplary," Cohen said. "That's why he's a quad-captain. We saw leadership in him when he was a freshman, it's developed over the years, and that's exactly what I was looking for. That kind of leadership and perseverance late in the game when literally your season and your career is on the line."

When a last-ditch Windham Hail Mary fell to the turf, Bow had pulled off the upset. 

There was a lengthy feeling-out process to open the game, with both teams trading three punts before Bow running back Jack Corriveau broke a 77-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter.

Corriveau and Ben Kimball were a two-headed monster in the Falcons backfield, combining for 208 yards on 35 carries. Aside from Corriveau's one touchdown run, none of those yards came easily. Heavy running between the tackles allowed Bow to dictate the tempo.

"You need to physically outplay the competition," Cohen told his team. "While they did take advantage of some of the things we goofed up here and there, I think we hit them harder than anybody else hit them this year. And I think that showed."

Running back Cody Stevens came out flying in the second half, sparking the Jaguars on a touchdown drive that was punctuated by a 2-yard Tommy Emrick score. Bow answered quickly, as Harkins hit Kimball for a 41 yard touchdown pass to retake a 14-7 lead. It was his lone completion before the final drive. 

When Windham got the ball back late in the third quarter, it put another nice drive together, and Jake Aleksa ran one in from 32 yards out. Bow was whistled for a chop block on the touchdown, and rather than kicking an extra point, Windham elected to go for the shortened two-point conversion attempt.

Stevens took a handoff right up the middle, and as center Robert Tringale got an excellent surge, Windham took a one-point lead with 47 seconds to play in the third.

"It's just a matter of, I thought we could make some stops in the end and squeak out of this with a 15-14 win," Raycraft said.

Although his team didn't, Raycraft had no qualms with the loss. Eighth-seeded Bow just brought it. 

"It's hard to be disappointed," said Raycraft, whose undefeated Jags were upset in the semis by Plymouth last fall. "If it was a team with not as much talent that caught us sleeping then yeah, you second-guess quite a bit. But I would not be shocked if they're back in Durham in two weeks."
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