Merrimack football rolls over Manchester Memorial

MANCHESTER – Mistakes, dropped passes and a month’s worth of penalty flags.

Merrimack High School football coach Kip Jackson understands his football team has to be sharper than it was here Friday night in a 37-6 destruction of Manchester Memorial.

“The good news is that we have plenty to work on this week in practice,” said Jackson. “Last week, we played one of the cleanest games we’ve seen here at Merrimack. And we followed it with one of the ugliest.”

Evident early that the Tomahawks had way too much firepower for the 0-2 Crusaders, Merrimack did plenty to move to 2-0 on the young season.

“I don’t want to give the victory back,” laughed Jackson, whose club moves on to a stiffer task next week against Manchester Central. “I just want to play a cleaner game.”

The Tomahawks struck first, rather quickly in fact, after forcing a Memorial three-and-out.

Tristan Wood opened the Merrimack drive with a 19-yard sweep and five plays later, closed it, again from the 19, making it 7-0 just four minutes in.

Another three-and-out, another Merrimack score, this one a 17-yarder by Adam Thornton.

It moved to 20-0 when QB James Dowling tossed the first of his two TD passes, this one a 3-yarder to Zach Twardosky.

Dowling, who spread the ball around to eight different receivers in a 10-for-18, 152-yard night, couldn’t smile at this one, especially after the myriad mistakes of the first half.

“I thought we came out thinking we’d destroy them, and they kind of took it to us,” the quarterback said. “There are just a lot of things to work on.”

Tyreke Noel took one of those things, a Dowling pick, 78 yards back for a TD early in the third, making it a 20-6 game.

It seemed to awaken the Tomahawks, who tended to business and finished things off with a Dowling-to-Garrett Murray, 45-yard TD hookup, a 6-yard Dowling TD dash and a safety.

And as both Dowling and his coach said, 2-0 is 2-0.

“Everybody has doubted us,” Dowling said. “Everybody thought Goffstown would destroy us. We’re pretty good, but I’m just not going to let us get too far ahead of things.”

Certainly, Jackson and his staff will make sure of that this week.