CHaD Game: West makes big plays, tops EastBy ROGER BROWN
New Hampshire Union Leader
July 02. 2017 8:25PM
MANCHESTER — For all of the big names on the team’s offense, it was a couple of less-heralded defensive players who came up with game-changing plays and led the West to a 25-14 victory in Sunday’s CHaD New Hampshire East-West All-Star Game at Manchester Memorial High School.
An undermanned East team was hanging tough and trailed by six when Souhegan of Amherst defensive back Tucker Aiello intercepted a Jake Stevens pass and returned it 17 yards for a touchdown. Ryan Fournier’s pass to Ryan Camirand for the two-point conversion gave the West a 22-8 lead with 7:49 left in the third quarter.
The East cut its deficit to 22-14 on an 11-yard TD pass from Stevens to Peter Navarro — both Londonderry High School graduates — and was threatening again when Hillsboro-Deering/Hopkinton defensive back Henry Yianakopolos came up with an interception on the East 10-yard line later in the third.
“Someone got pressure on him, he threw it off his back foot and it was just lobbed it up there,” Aiello said. “We wanted to take away the run game early and I think we did that. We made them pass the ball. We knew going in that turnovers were going to be a big part of the game. Whoever won that battle was probably going to win the game, so those were definitely key plays.”
The East had three turnovers in the game, two more than the West. The East ran for 26 yards on 14 attempts.
The West received rushing touchdowns from Bedford’s Nick Leahy (21 yards) and Lebanon’s Ryan Milliken (22 yards). Yianakopolos capped the scoring by kicking a 23-yard field goal with 6:19 left.
“The second half I thought our defense really came out strong and played great,” West defensive coordinator Paul Lavigne said. “We started putting more of a pass rush on and I think we disturbed the quarterback’s timing. The (Aiello) interception was the turning point, I thought. That opened it up right there.”
Navarro, a slot receiver who was a late addition to the East roster, caught two TD passes in the game. He hauled in an 18-yard pass from Stevens with 50 seconds left in the first half, and had the 11-yard TD catch that made it 22-14 with 3:40 remaining in the third. The other East score came on a two-point-conversion pass from Stevens to Portsmouth’s Shon Parham following Navarro’s first touchdown.
“Navarro was a kid we just added last week and I thought he was one of our best players on the field today,” East coach Craig Kozens said. ““We had a chance to tie it (on the drive that ended with the Yianakopolos interception), and that’s all you can ask for when you take the field — to be in the game, right?”
Stevens completed 23 of 47 pass attempts for 282 yards with two TDs and two interceptions.
The game began Friday night at St. Anselm College, but was suspended early in the second quarter because of lightning. The West had a 7-0 lead when the decision was made to move the game to Sunday at Memorial.
The West victory ended the East’s two-game winning streak. The West leads the series 4-2.
“I thought (the East) played real tough,” West coach Jim Schubert said. “Well-coached football team.”