Nashua South tops Portsmouth in football opener
NASHUA – High school football season openers are hardly ever pretty, but when Nashua South coach Scott Knight and his players looked up at the Stellos Stadium scoreboard at the final whistle Friday night, they saw a thing of beauty.
That’s because the Portsmouth ClipperCats couldn’t convert a fourth-and-goal from the 6 with 35 seconds left, a Jacob Boutin pass falling incomplete in the corner of the end zone to seal a 10-6 Panthers victory.
“My heart stopped,” Knight said after a game with a combined eight turnovers. “It wasn’t looking good, because there wasn’t going to be enough time left for us to do anything when we got the ball. You’ve got to win the game on defense and special teams, and we showed some resiliency. … Our kids did what they had to do, and showed great
It was a bit more ugly for the ClipperCats and coach Brian Pafford, as his team committed five turnovers (two fumbles, three interceptions), and they saved their best drive for the end but it fell short. On that fourth down play, Portsmouth’s Oscar Lalime couldn’t get to the corner as he ran smack into South defender Josh Compoh.
“I think we kind of slowed down to get to the (end zone corner), and and it’s one of those things that happened,” Pafford said. “To me it looked like incidental (contact).
“It was a typical first game. A lot of dumb mistakes which we didn’t do all preseason. It was both of us.”
Compoh said he wasn’t looking for any flag, and held his breath when he saw
Boutin let the pass go.
“I don’t know, man, the ball was in the air and I was hoping my teammates would make a play,” Compoh said.
But they didn’t have to.
The game was sloppy from the start, as the ClipperCats had a bad snap on a punt after their first series, and the Panthers, thanks to the work of Parker Fleury and Jason Compoh, recovered it at the Portsmouth 9.
That set up a 1-yard Joe Buturla TD plunge, and with Jake Smith’s PAT, the Panthers had a 7-0 lead.
But it was a struggle thereafter. Portsmouth converted a Oscar Lalime interception into a nine-play, 51-yard scoring drive with Jack Russo diving in on a 6-yard, fourth down TD run with 8:58 left in the first half to cut the margin to 7-6. But Jake Smith booted a 25 yard field goal with just under five minutes to play in the half that gave the Panthers a 10-6 lead. Who would have thought that would be the end of the scoring?
“We’re not going to face a defensive front as good as that the rest of the year,” said Knight, whose sophomore QB Michael Rutstein went 6-of-14 for 73 yards and three interceptions but had a first-half TD pass called back.
Portmsouth’s Boutin, ill most of the week, went 5 of 15 for 87 yards.
“We went into halftime (down 10-6) and said, ‘Hey, we had four turnovers in the first half, and we’re down by four, and we could easily be winning this game,” Pafford said. “We’ve just got to fight through it.”
Instead, Lalime couldn’t fight through Compoh, and it was the Panthers who turned ugly into beauty.