NHIAA Div. II: Portsmouth edges Trinity
PORTSMOUTH - Portsmouth High School is the only team that has beaten Plymouth Regional this season. To win the Division II championship, the Clippers will have to beat the Bobcats again.
Second-seeded Portsmouth advanced to the title game by beating third-seeded Trinity of Manchester 18-14 in Saturday's Division II semifinals.
Portsmouth didn't have the lead until quarterback Donovan Phanor connected with Nate McFarland for a 54-yard touchdown pass down the left sideline that capped the scoring with 3:54 to play.
"We were trying to hit that deep, sideline area where we could catch and run," Portsmouth coach Brian Pafford said. "We were trying to stay out of the middle because they were spying Donovan a little bit. They had an extra defender in certain pass areas.
"We were trying to get one-on-one (coverage) near the sideline. He happened to get by the corner."
Phanor also threw a late TD pass when Portsmouth (10-1) beat Plymouth 27-22 in Plymouth during the regular season. Top-seeded Plymouth (10-1), which beat fourth-seeded Sanborn Regional of Kingston 37-13 in Saturday's other semifinal, will also be at home for Saturday's championship game.
"It's going to be harder than the first time," Phanor said. "It's always harder to beat a team the second time around."
Trinity's Austin Chambers caught two touchdown passes against the Clippers. He opened the scoring when he caught a 94-yard TD pass from quarterback Carmen Giampetruzzi with 7:41 left in the first half. Will Sheppard ran in the two-point conversion to give the Pioneers an 8-0 lead.
Chambers also hauled in a 72-yard TD pass from Giampetruzzi on the second play of the third quarter to give Trinity a 14-6 lead. Giampetruzzi completed 7 of 16 passes for 224 yards, but was intercepted twice.
"If you're ever going to go down in a fight, go down with no bullets left in your gun," Trinity coach Steve Burns said. "Our gun is empty. The kids played hard."
Trinity committed three turnovers in the game, and the third one hurt the most. After McFarland's TD, the Pioneers had a first down on their own 40-yard line, but fumbled the ball away with 2:44 to play.
Trinity's final possession started on its own 8 with just over a minute remaining, and the Pioneers moved to the 39 before turning the ball over on downs.
Loden Formichelli and Spencer Griggs scored Portsmouth's other TDs. Formichelli caught a 3-yard TD pass from Phanor with 1:22 left in the first half, and Griggs scored on a 1-yard run with 7:01 left in the third quarter.
Trinity, which beat Portsmouth 58-37 in the opener for each team, dropped to 8-3, and will be off until it plays Manchester Central on Thanksgiving.
"Trinity matches up with us very well," Pafford said. "They take away the long ball, so I thought it would be a grind it out, move-the-chains type of day. I thought it would be a lot lower scoring than the first time, and it was."