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Harris comes up big in North 21-6 win over South

By Tom King | Oct 5, 2019

Telegraph photo by TOM KING Nashua North's Anthony Green (34) tries to elude Nashua South's Joe Buturla with help from Brian Mwangi (41) during Friday night's Battle of the Bridge at Stellos Stadium.

NASHUA – When you boil down Friday night’s Nashua High School North-South football Battle of the Bridge at Stellos Stadium, it’s pretty simple:

One team had Curtis Harris, and the other one didn’t.

Harris ran 16 times for 216 yards and three TDs, and added an interception for good measure in a 21-6 Titans victory, moving them to 5-0 on the season.

“He’s a special player, you know,” North coach Dante Laurendi said. “He’s a special player, played big tonight in a big tough game.”

Woe are the Panthers, who lead the series 20-13 but are now 3-2. They began the game with a 17 play drive that chewed up 74yards, but failed to get that final yard on a fourth-and-goal from the 2.

And to add insult to injury, Harris, after North’s goal line stand, took the ball 89 yards down the left sideline for the game’s first TD with 1:53 left in the opening period. Lucas Cunningham’s PAT kick was no good so things stood 6-0.

“We made some big mistakes on defense,” South coach Scott Knight said. “That very first one, completely wrong, we didn’t do the right things. We’re still a work in progress. … You’ve got to eliminate big plays and finish drives.

“You can’t make mistakes, not in a game like this. … That 10 minute drive, you’ve got to score on that. That hurt.”

Harris made them pay again later with his pick of South QB Mike Rutstein to not only kill a South drive, but also set up his second TD as he returned it 44 yards to the Panther 38 with 6:44 left in the half.

“I was just in the right place at the right time,” Harris said. “They (the Panthers) did a play we’d been watching all week on film, and I was just in the right spot, got it, and I was gone.”

Well, not all the way gone. North, mixing in some runs with back Anthony Greene, took eight plays with Harris slipping in from 1-yard out untouched. He also hurdled into the end zone for a two-point conversion with 2:17 left in the half.

The Panthers had 169 yards in two quarters, but no points to show for it, until a Jason Compoh-led drive on their first possession of the second half cut the gap to 14-6. Compoh, who finished with 121 yards on 25 carries, flew into the end zone from 16 yards out with 4:37 left in the third quarter, capping a 10-play, 62-yard march. However, Jake Smith’s PAT kick was blockd; he also missed a field goal on the final play of the first half.

But special teams were the least of the Panthers’ problems. After stopping Harris on a fourth down play at the South 36, they began a march early in the fourth quarter down to the North 39. But they fumbled it back to the Titans.

Later, South’s defense held again, this time with North looking like it was driving for a clinching score. However, Harris tossed an incompletion on fourth and 3 from the South 16 with 5:07 left and you had to wonder if the Panthers had another long drive in them. They didn’t, as North’s Travis Holbrook and Anthony Sexton combined on a sack of Rutstein, knocking him from the game.

On the very next play, Harris took off for a 70-yard TD with 2:12 left, Cunningham added the PAT and that was that, 21-6. Amazingly, South had

We’ve seen it before, right?

“You know, my line is a big key factor of what I get into,” Harris said. “As soon as they give me the whole, I get into the free space and I just go.”

“Obviously, we had a couple of great stands defensively overall, too,” Laurendi said. “We were able to capitalize, and fortunate to come out on top.”

“It’s great,” Harris said, “to beat the town rival.”

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