Central gets first loss, falling to Titans

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Central’s Alex Hawkom (#4) and Cooper Verano celebrate in the second half.

MANCHESTER, N.H. – In what could be a playoff preview, the Little Green of Manchester Central fell at the hands of Nashua North on Friday night, 34-27.

Only a missed extra point separated the teams at halftime, with Central’s Alex Hawkom throwing for scores to Miguel Gensee and Nick Olbrice and North getting a passing touchdown on Mike Loveless’ 12-yard strike to Austin Ouelette as well as a rushing score from Curtis Harris.

Central found itself on the positive side of that slender margin, but both squads went into the half with positive points: the Little Green forced a fumble just outside of its own red zone early in the first quarter, preventing what looked like a sure Titan score, while North kept the pressure on Hawkom as Central’s offensive line struggled to give the senior quarterback the time he needed for a consistent passing attack.

Coming out of the half, the two teams traded scores again, with Harris adding a second touchdown and a subsequent two-point conversion followed by a rushing touchdown by Hawkom. Although a flag took Hawkom’s six points off the board, Hawkom connected with Olbrice again on the next play.

North broke the deadlock thanks to sophomore Xavier Provost, who provided a 10-yard rushing touchdown just over three minutes after Central’s score, followed immediately by an interception that began what would be a 60-yard scoring drive for the Titans.

That drive concluded with a 27-yard pass from Loveless to Curtis, but it was fueled by a pair of 15-yard penalties occurring after one play near midfield, transforming what could have been a manageable situation after Provost’s pick into a serious threat.

“Penalties usually are killer, penalties and turnovers,” said Central head coach Ryan Ray.  “We’ve got to be more disciplined.”

The Titans provided two 15-yard penalties of their own during the next drive, bringing the game back within one touchdown, but the pendulum had swung in North’s favor for good. First downs from Harris and Isaac Smith ate up too much of the remaining clock and the visitors left Gill Stadium with a win that may reverberate in Division I tiebreakers later on in the season.

“We had a lot of guys contribute, our line did a great job,” said North head coach Dante Laurendi. “We had to take what they gave us and just grind it out.”

With the loss, both teams now stand at 3-1 on the season, with Central heading into a critical matchup against Bedford next weekend and North returning to Stellos to rekindle their rivalry with Nashua South.