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NHIAA D-I Football Championship: Warriors roll to crown

By ROGER BROWN
New Hampshire Union Leader

November 18. 2017 9:30PM
Winnacunnet's Andrew Mills holds up the trophy after their Division I championship game win over Pinkerton Academy on Saturday at Wildcat Stadium at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. (Nicole Goodhue Boyd/Union Leader)

DURHAM - The best team in NHIAA Division I football? Winnacunnet certainly looked the part on Saturday night.

The Warriors scored on each of their first six offensive possessions and rolled to a 41-21 victory over Pinkerton Academy in the Division I championship game at the University of New Hampshire's Wildcat Stadium.

Senior wide receiver Evan Welch caught three touchdown passes (13, 10 and 13 yards), and sophomore running back Jordan Fuller ran for three TDs (3, 22 and 2 yards) to highlight Winnacunnet's offensive performance.

Welch caught three passes for 36 yards and the three TDs. Fuller rushed for a game-high 184 yards on 25 attempts.

"They scored every time they had the ball until, I don't know, maybe they got tired or something," Pinkerton coach Brian O'Reilly said. "We had no answer for the veer. We worked on it all week. You wouldn't know it. They were a far superior team than us today."

Running back Gannon Fast scored two touchdowns for the Astros (10-2).

No Winnacunnet possession ended without a touchdown until 10:10 remained in the fourth quarter, when the Warriors turned the ball over on downs. Winnacunnet's only punt came with 5:56 remaining in the game.

The victory handed Winnacunnet (12-0) its first unbeaten season in school history. It was Winnacunnet's first state championship since it beat Bedford for the 2012 Division II title.

"Gotta give credit to our offensive line,," Winnacunnet coach Ron Auffant said. "They made the holes and made everything happen. Our offensive line did a great job tonight.

"I thought we need to score at least four touchdowns, and I thought that would be tough. Again, a tribute to our offensive line, and I think we got confidence as we went. We've played really good football, but I think this is our best game. Best game we've played all year ... against a great football team."

The Warriors, who entered the game as the No. 1 team in the Union Leader Power Poll, led 21-7 after one quarter, 35-7 at halftime and 41-14 entering the final 12 minutes.

Pinkerton's first TD came on a 58-yard pass from quarterback Aiden Goujon to wingback Ty Hicks. That cut Winnacunnet's lead to 14-7 with 3:54 left in the first quarter. Hicks caught three passes for 149 yards.

Fast's first TD came on a 2-yard run and helped trim Pinkerton's deficit to 41-14 with 1:50 left in the third quarter. He also scored on a 1-yard run with 2:16 to play.

Saturday night's game was the second contest between the schools since Pinkerton moved to Division I in 1985. The Warriors beat the Astros 17-7 in Derry during the 2015 regular season.

"I've been talking to all the seniors about how we're going to remember this for the rest of our lives - getting this undefeated season," Fuller said. "Just a dream season."

rbrown@unionleader.com


NHIAA Derry Hampton

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