New Hampshire Football Report

Top 10 Games from 2021: No. 10

No. 10: Central 27, Memorial 24

Call it an earlier-than-expected Thanksgiving Day matchup. After the regular season meeting between Central and Memorial was cancelled because of COVID-19 and the Manchester Turkey Bowl was also called off, the Little Green and Crusaders agreed to meet at Gill Stadium in a game that didn’t count in the NHIAA standings. Victory wasn’t secure until Central pulled off a successful fake punt with 2:19 to play.

Memorial (1-6) struck first on a 36-yard pass from quarterback Braden Hafeman (20 of 24, 227 yards) to Martin Alisandro, but Central (1-5) answered on a TD pass from QB Jayden Hann (16 of 27, 224 yards) to Tyler Ceasar and took a one-point lead on a Baylee Bates PAT.

The Crusaders put together a nine-play, 61-yard scoring drive to grab a 12-7 halftime lead. The TD came on Hafeman’s sneak from 2 yards away.

Then it was Hann’s turn. He helped the Little Green march 79 yards in 11 plays and put Central up 13-12 on a 10-yard TD run.

The game’s biggest defensive play came next. With Memorial pinned at its own 5, Aiden Kelley drilled Hafeman in the backfield, causing a fumble that L.J. Gerald recovered in the end zone. Bates made the point-after kick and the Little Green led 20-12.

Memorial’s Connor McFarland then scored on a 17-yard run, but the failed two-point-conversion attempt left Central with a two-point lead. Central created some breathing room when Owen Kelley’s 29-yard TD catch plus the Bates PAT put the Little Green in front 27-18 with 4:55 to play, but Memorial made it a one-score game when Hafeman dumped off a short pass to freshman Collin Beaulieau, who dashed 25 yards for a score. The conversion failed, but Memorial was within three points — 27-24 — with 2:49 left.

The Crusaders needed a stop, and almost got one. Jacob Calabro broke up a third-down pass attempt and appeared to force a punt, but on a fourth-and-four play Central punter Reagan Fort darted through the middle of the line and gained 4 yards — and a few inches — to pick up a first down.

Seconds later Central was celebrating a victory over its city rival.


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