Londonderry Lancers Football '21

Sat, Nov 13, 2021 01:00 PM @ Londonderry
Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Salem 0 0 7 14 21
Londonderry 6 6 8 8 28

Mustapha stars, but Salem rally fall short in semis

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Saturday, November, 13 By David Willis
Staff writer

LONDONDERRY — Salem coach Steve Abraham had a message for his players as the clock ticked down in Saturday's New Hampshire Division 1 semifinal.

"I challenged them," said Abraham. "I told them, no matter what that scoreboard says, you keep swinging until the game's over, and they did. This team has heart."

Fight until the final play the Blue Devils certainly did.

Aidan McDonald scored a 1-yard touchdown with 1:29 left in the game. Blue Devil David Jacques then recovered the ensuing onside kick, and QB Noah Mustapha quickly moved his team down the field and found Kaleb Bates in the end zone for a 5-yard TD with 0:18 left to make it a one-score game.

Jacques then recovered a second onside kick, but it was ruled the ball did not go 10 yards, and No. 1-seeded Londonderry took a knee to clinch a 28-21 win over Salem.

The Lancers (10-1) advance to the Division 1 title game for the second time in three seasons, to face Winnacunnet. Salem (7-3) fell in the semifinals for the fifth straight season. The Blue Devils won their regular season matchup with Londonderry 35-21.

"I'm so proud of these guys," said Abraham. "I would rather sit at home and watch the title game with my guys than coach any other team in the championship. I love these guys. Londonderry isn't an easy place to play, but they did everything we asked of them today and the whole season."

The surprise star of the day for Salem was Mustapha. The senior QB completed 13 of 16 passes for a career-high 259 yards and two scores. All but one 39-yard completion to Tommy Ahlers came in the second half. That shattered his previous best of 123 passing yards against Pinkerton.

"Noah was great!" said Abraham. "He was very poised. He was getting the crap kicked out of him, but he stayed in there. We may not throw the ball often, but we can. He runs the offense so well. He played his backside off today. He proved he's not just a handoff quarterback."

The game started off in fine fashion for Salem. The Blue Devils received the opening kickoff and quickly drove to the Londonderry 20-yard line, led by gains of 16 and 12 yards by Ahlers.

But Salem then fumbled the ball away, and Londonderry scored to make it 7-0. The Blue Devils lost two more fumbles in the second quarter, each resulting in a Londonderry field goal and a 12-0 halftime lead.

"If we score on that first drive, I feel like we win," said Abraham. "But we turned the ball over, so shame on us, and that was the change. We played great defense the whole game, but we were stuck in their end."

Salem finally broke through late in the third quarter. After forcing Londonderry into a turnover on downs, Mustapha lofted a bomb to Ahlers, who took it the rest of the way for an 84-yard touchdown to make it 12-7. Ahlers finished with four catches for 169 yards.

"Tommy really toughed out an incredible game," said Abraham. "He was hurt because he got speared earlier in the game. He played his rear-end off because he has the heart of a mack truck. He kept playing."

Londonderry responded with two touchdowns to seemingly put the game away. But the Blue Devils came flying back in the final two minutes of the game.

Mustapha hit Matthew McCloskey for a 13-yard gain and Ahlers for a 27-yard gain, setting up McDonald's 1-yard touchdown.

Kicker Josh Brady then booted a stellar onside kick that was recovered by Jacques. Mustapha responded by completing five straight passes, the longest a 25-yarder to McDonald, and the last a 5-yard touchdown to Bates to cut the lead to seven points.

But the following onside kick didn't go 10 yards, and Londonderry ran out the final seconds.

"The last time we played they punched us in the mouth," said Londonderry coach Jimmy Lauzon, whose Lancers limited the Blue Devils to 74 rushing yards on 36 carries for the game.

"Salem is known for being tough, but we wanted to show that we are a tough team too, and we ended up rushing for 348 yards. That's a good Salem team, and it always seems like whenever we play them it comes down to the final seconds. It sure did today."

Game Statistics:

NH Division 1 semifinals 

First Quarter

L — Matthew Perron 31 run (kick failed), 3:49

Second Quarter

L — Wrisley 30 field goal, 7:25

L —  Wrisley 31 field goal, 0:55

Third Quarter

S — Tommy Ahlers 85 pass from Noah Mustapha (Josh Brady kick), 1:07

L — Drew Heenan 53 run (Jake Schena rush), 0:15 

Fourth Quarter

L — Perron 4 run (Perron rush), 4:14

S — Aidan McDonald 1 run (Brady kick), 1:29

S — Kaleb Bates 5 pass from Mustapha (Brady kick), 0:18 



RUSHING: Salem (36-74) — Tommy Ahlers 10-50, Aidan McDonald 19-28, Noah Mustapha 7-(-4); Londonderry (47-348) — Drew Heenan 24-193, Matthew Perron 11-63, Jake Scchena 4-51, Anthony Salcito 1-24, Hayden Austen 6-12, Andrew Soucey 1-4, Trevor Weinmann 1-1

PASSING: Salem — Mustapha 13-16-0, 259, Ahlers 0-1-0, Kaleb Bates 0-1-1; Londonderry — Drew Heenan 2-8-1, 7

RECEIVING: Salem — Ahlers 4-169, McDonald 2-40, Damian Gigante 3-26, Matthew 1-13, Bates 3-11; Londonderry — Salcito 1-6, Weinmann 1-1

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