New Hampshire Football Report

West 24, East 0

Game founder Nick Vailas with Newport's Kyle Ashley

NOTE: Click on lower left corner of stats packet for team and individual statistics.

It wasn’t the offensive explosion West coach Keith Jones was hoping for, but when Friday night’s New Hampshire East/West All-Star Game was over Jones wasn’t complaining about the final score.

Newport’s Kyle Ashley spearheaded a suffocating defensive effort that propelled the West to a 24-0 victory at Saint Anselm College’s Grappone Stadium.

The West blocked two punts, returned two fumbles for touchdowns and limited the East to 165 yards of total offense. The East rushed for 29 yards on 34 attempts, an average of 0.9 yards per carry.

The West led 14-0 before the game was five minutes old, added a 19-yard field goal by Keene’s Davis Glodgett in the third quarter and scored on a 28-yard fumble recovery by Milford’s Cade Cloutier in the fourth.

“The mental mistakes in certain areas is what wins this game,” Jones said. “You can’t have those mistakes. We did a great job capitalizing on anything we could, and we won the turnover battle. Some kids stepped up and made some great plays at great times. What else can you say?”

Ashley, the only player on the West roster from a Division IV school, lined up at quarterback, running back and defensive end. He recorded a game-high eight tackles, including 4.5 tackles for loss (2.5 sacks).

“I think we just came out and we wanted it,” Ashley said. “Foot on the gas and never took our foot off of the gas. At the beginning of the week our coaches told us, ‘The team that’s going to win is the team that bonds the most.’ I think we came into this game as a brotherhood. We’re all really close. We’re all going to go hang out after this and have some fun. That was the difference.

“I was making more than an hour trip every day and I had multiple kids ask if I wanted to stay at their house. They’re all just great guys. Great guys.”

Ashley also scored the game’s only offensive touchdown on a 3-yard run with 12:26 left in the first quarter. He rushed for 23 yards and the TD on seven carries.

“It was kind of hard throughout the season putting up all these stats and blowing out all these teams, but at the end of the day I’m D4,” Ashley said. “How good of a player am I really? 

“It’s not about the size of the school. It’s not about that. Kids from smaller schools can go out and play just as hard as anybody else. … It’s all about work ethic. It’s all about who you are as a person, and coming out here and playing the game of football. Doing what you love.”

Ashley, who plans to be a Navy Seal, received the Bo Dickson MVP Award.

“He was explosive,” East coach Eric Cumba said. “I was definitely not expecting for him to have as much of an impact on the game as he did. I felt like he was in the backfield more than our QB at times. Really good football player. And then they put him on offense and when he carried the ball he did a great job there too. Really good athlete.”

Ashley’s TD came after Bedford’s Alex Grudinskas blocked a punt on the East’s first possession and recovered the ball on the East’s 12-yard line.

The West struck again when Milford’s Harris Jones – Keith’s son – returned a fumble 32 yards for a TD. Glodgett’s point-after kick made it a 14-0 game with 10:28 left in the first quarter.

The game raises money for Dartmouth Health Children’s and the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center (CHaD). Harris Jones was involved in a snowmobile accident when he was 2 and treated at CHaD in Lebanon. Keith Jones, who resigned as Milford’s head coach following the 2023 season, said Harris nearly had one of his legs amputated.

“Proud father moment (when Harris scored), but also a proud father moment when Cloutier scored,” Keith Jones said. “They’re all my kids.” 

The East was 3 of 14 on third down, and never did come up with a play that sparked the offense.

Pelham defensive lineman Memphis Patterson led the East with six tackles (five solo).

“We weren’t able to get ourselves out of a hole,” Cumba said. “Once we settled in we were a little bit better. We just couldn’t finish drives and make a play when we needed to. They made plays when they needed to. We had a mistake here and there and we paid for it.”

It was the fourth straight victory for the West, which has a 9-3-0 lead in the all-time series. 

Keith Jones guided the West to a 44-12 victory in the inaugural game, and also served as the West’s head coach in 2015, when the East earned a 29-15 victory.

“Unbelievable experience,” Keith Jones said. “I don’t think I’ll do it again. I think it’s time for other people to keep going with it. I always felt like it was our family obligation to do as much as we can for the organization. If they ask me I’ll do anything they want, but this is a nice one to go out on.”

CHAD2024-UPDATE

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