WINDHAM — Facing a 4th-and-1 with the game on the line in the final minute, Brendan McInnis pretty much let Souhegan and everyone else know where the football was going as he slid over and yelled a final instruction to his right tackle, David Crichton.
It hardly mattered.
The Windham High quarterback took the snap and ripped right off that corner, right off Crichton’s backside, then let his natural ability and will to win take over, reversing field and ambling 39 yards for the winning score in the Jags’ 30-26 victory over the Sabers.
“We had a lot of success running inside earlier, but I knew I had to take that one to the corner,” said McInnis, the Jags’ most lethal rusher with 13 carries for 99 yards and 2 scores. “It’s a funny thing, I went in the huddle and told the guys, we’ve been together for three years now, and you have to lead me to the promised land. It was almost surreal.”
Unlikely, absolutely necessary, sure maybe even surreal, but the Jags, now 2-1, were in deep trouble with the 0-2 Sabers taking a 26-22 lead on Drew Prescott’s (28 carries, 227 yards) second TD with 1:20 to go.
Sophomore Shane Lafond lit the comeback flame, though, with a kick return to the Souhegan 48, setting the table for McInnis’ heroics.
Ironically, McInnis was struggling with his lethal right arm, having hit just 3 of 14 pass attempts on the day for 46 yards with an interception.
“Everybody has days like this, whether it’s a timing thing or the defense or whatever,” said McInnis. “But I worked hard in the offseason on my running to make it a weapon, and I’m ready to show it when I have to.”
While the Jags lost the yardage and time of possession wars, they took advantage of the Saber mistakes.
A heads-up Gui Gauthier scooped up an errant Souhegan swing pass — correctly ruled a lateral — and raced 24 yards for a Jaguar TD in the second quarter. Anthony Gallo later had an interception to turn the Sabers away deep in Windham territory with the score 14-13 in the third.
The Jags did show balance in the running game, averaging 7.8 yards an attempt as Kellin Bail, Gauthier, Lafond and Kurtis Jolicoeur all broke off nice rushes.
Coach Bill Raycraft had to like what he saw from his young club, answering a pair of deficits in the fourth, the last coming with 80 seconds to go.
“You know that’s something we drill on over and over in practice,” said McInnis. “Situational football. And you know we had some guys banged up, so it was nice to see.”
agateHed:Windham 30, Souhegan 26
agateText:Souhegan (0-3): 13 0 0 13 — 26
agateText:Windham (2-1): 7 7 0 16 — 30
agateText:S — Drew Prescott 81 run (Alex Bedard kick), 7:31
W — Shane Lafond 54 run (Anthony Gallo kick), 2:21
S — Will Hart 16 pass from Isaac Nevria (kick wide), :10.0
agateText:W — Gui Gauthier 24 fumble return (Gallo kick), 10:05
agateText:S — Prescott 6 run (pass failed), 10:16
W — McInnis 2 run (McInnis to Kellin Bail pass), 6:51
S — Prescott 1 run (Bedard kick), 1:20
W — McInnis 39 run (Gui Gauthier rush), :43.1
agateText:RUSHING: S (47-331) — Prescott 28-207, Nevria 4-39, Cam Kinney 12-33; W (39-304) — Kellin Bail 10-56, Brendan Mcinnis 13-99, Gui Gauthier 5-27, Kurtis Jolicoeur 6-49, Shane Lafond 5-73
agateText:PASSING: S — Nevria 3-12-2, 55; W — McInnis 3-14-1, 46
agateText:RECEIVING: W — Bail 2-16, Jolicoeur 1-30