New Hampshire Football Report

Top 10 Games: No. 1

No. 1: Bedford 27, Merrimack 20   

It wasn’t a last-second victory, but it was a last-second play that led to victory.

After a pass-interference call on what would have been the game’s final play gave Bedford High School an untimed down on the Merrimack 5-yard line, quarterback Connor Robert tossed a touchdown pass to Noah Chaberek. That TD plus Connor Crowley’s point-after kick forced overtime in a Division I semifinal between the Bulldogs and Tomahawks.

Then Robert tossed a 10-yard TD pass to Chaberek on the first play of OT that ended up being the difference in Bedford’s 27-20 triumph, which reserved a spot for the Bulldogs in the Division I championship game.

After Chaberek’s touchdown in overtime – each team had a possession from the other’s team’s 10-yard line – Merrimack tried two running plays and found itself with a third-and-goal from the Bedford 9. Justin Grassini’s third-down pass fell incomplete, and his pass on fourth down was tipped by Shahrukh Hussain in the end zone and also fell incomplete.

Grassini, who entered the game with a state record 41 touchdown passes this season, was intercepted five times in the loss. He completed the season with 43 TD passes.

Merrimack was trying to get to a state championship game for the first time since 1995.

Merrimack led 14-0 at halftime, but Bedford began to show signs of life when Spencer Adams intercepted a Grassini pass and the Bulldogs took over on the Merrimack 18-yard line. Four plays later Robert scored on a 2-yard run and Joseph Aiello’s point-after kick made it 14-7.

Merrimack regained the lead at 20-7 after Joe Eichman scored on a 1-yard run with 11:35 left in the fourth, but the PAT kick was missed.

Bedford sliced Merrimack’s lead to 20-13 on Robert’s 2-yard run with 7:48 left in the fourth, but the PAT was blocked.

Merrimack turned the ball over on downs at the Bedford 22-yard line with 1:31 to play, and the Bulldogs put together a 13-play drive that ended with Chaberek’s TD catch on the untimed down.

Merrimack’s first-half touchdowns came on Grassini’s 42-yard pass to Danny Vanecek with 2:42 left in the first quarter, and Grassini’s 13-yard TD pass to Justin Weiser with 29.3 seconds left in the half.

One week later Bedford won the program’s first state championship by beating Exeter, 7-0.

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