Nashua South Purple Panthers Football '07

Fri, Oct 19, 2007 07:00 PM @ Salem
Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Nashua South 6 0 14 0 20
Salem 21 14 7 13 55

Salem drowns Nashua South

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Salem, N.H.'s Harold Landers in action against Nashua South during a football game at Salem High School on Oct. 19. » Allegra Boverman, Staff PhotographerMore photos

Friday, October, 19 By Dave Dyer
Staff writer

SALEM, N.H. | The next time you hear someone say that a drenching rain is only good for ducks, you may want to offer a correction.

That's because it's also mighty fine for the Salem High football team as it proved last night in a monsoon of a downpour, washing previously unbeaten Nashua South down the drain, 55-20, in what was clearly a must-win game for the Blue Devils.

Salem improved to 5-3 overall, and remained in the playoff hunt in Division 1 with a 4-2 mark, while Nashua South dropped to 6-1 and 5-1 respectively.

"It was like an ocean out there, but I liked it," said Salem fullback/linebacker James Stewart. "Our backs were against the wall, but we were ready to play, rain or no rain. We had to have this one."

In a victory with a multitude of heroes, Stewart was near the head of the list. With standout back Shane McMahon out with a broken thumb, and the pouring rain begging for a north-south power runner, Stewart stepped forward.

With Salem amassing an astonishing 412 yards rushing in what was largely mush, Stewart led the way with 152 yards on 19 carries. And with Salem already ahead 35-6 at halftime, he started the third quarter with a 72-yard TD run, making it 42-6.

Then, after Nashua South mounted a mild comeback with two quick TDs to make it 42-20 with 5:31 still left to play in the third quarter, Stewart helped control the clock, and the game, with 10 rushes the rest of the way.

"I used him (Stewart) more tonight than other games because he's a reliable, power back," said Salem coach Jack Gati. "He did a great job, but so did the offensive line and a lot of guys."

Indeed, there were plenty of heroes to go around for the Blue Devils.

| Nick Cavallo, playing in his first game since breaking his foot in the opener, intercepted a pass on the third play of the game and returned it 38 yards to the 1-yard-line, setting up the first of three Kevin Sledge touchdowns.

| Sledge, who now has 13 TDs on the year, finished with 129 yards rushing and had a 45-yard score early in the fourth quarter that helped put the game away.

| Chris Najem, filling in for McMahon, scored on a 51-yard run and looked sharp with 89 yards in just 11 carries.

| Quarterback Hal Landers threw for a touchdown and ran for a score while directing the offense beautifully.

| The offensive line pushed Nashua around all night and, remarkably, had only one 5-yard penalty in the miserable conditions.

| Chris Sousa blocked a punt that set up one of Sledge's TDs and also caught a 13-yard TD pass.

| Kicker Josh Frederico set a school record with seven extra-point kicks.

Moreover, led by Stewart and defensive end Shawn Stoodley, the defense was solid, holding Nashua to just 201 yards of total offense, 100 of which came on runs of 67 and 33 yards by shifty quarterback Bill Ferriter. Stoodley also scored the final touchdown when he recovered a fumble in the end zone.

"I was really pleased with our defense against a team like that," said Gati. "But the defense has been pretty good all year."

It's just that, like the offense, it got a lot tougher in the rain.

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