GOFFSTOWN — When the Division 1 playoff bracket was announced in New Hampshire, Salem knew it had a chance to make amends for at least one of its two defeats in a stellar regular season.
And if the Blue Devils took advantage of that, they likely would have an opportunity to make up for their other loss.
Saturday afternoon at St. Anselm College, Salem emphatically completed the first step of that scenario, crushing Goffstown 32-10 at Grappone Stadium and advancing to the Division 1 semifinals for the third consecutive year.
With undefeated Londonderry’s equally impressive win over Pinkerton, the Blue Devils have their long-awaited rematch, this time with a shot at the state championship game.
In a Week 8 loss to Goffstown, Salem scored twice in the fourth quarter, but the Grizzlies took advantage of a late 70-yard pass before scoring the game-winning touchdown with 33 seconds left.
This time around, there was little drama after Riley Mulvey returned an interception 30 yards for the game’s first points late in the first quarter.
“We came into the game thinking we couldn’t make mistakes,” running back Josh Maroun said. “We just had to do what we do best, and once we got that first touchdown from Riley Mulvey, I think we had momentum for the rest of the game.”
Goffstown (7-3) forced the issue on the ensuing possession, but a fourth-and-2 gamble was stymied by a Tanner Morgano tackle. Maroun got into the act on the very next play, hauling in a well-thrown Kaleb Bates pass on a deep-seam route for a 45-yard touchdown.
“It was timing,” said Bates, whose only other completion was a 38-yarder to Michael Ference on another scoring drive. “I had to read the safety, and I saw (Maroun) open and I just fired to him.”
Maroun, one of three Blue Devils with at least 88 rushing yards, capped Salem’s next possession with a 1-yard plunge for an 18-0 lead. He then added another 1-yarder for a 25-7 advantage 56 seconds before intermission.
Goffstown scored on a 63-yard kickoff return after Maroun’s first rushing touchdown and a 35-yard field goal as the half expired to avert a shutout. The Grizzlies managed only 77 rushing yards and 145 total yards on 41 plays.
Intercepting passes for Salem were Mulvey and Jacob Brady, who made a tremendous diving pick.
“The defense stepped up,” Salem coach Rob Pike said. “They were put in a bad spot a couple of times and they made plays all game long. They slowed (the Grizzlies) down, and that’s not easy because they’re a good team.”
Salem (8-2) removed all doubt after intermission, taking the second half kickoff 80 yards on a 12-play drive that lasted four ticks shy of 8 minutes and ended with a 13-yard bootleg by Bates. The defense again shut down the Grizzlies on a fourth-down play at the Salem 24 midway through the final period.
The Blue Devils have outscored opponents 307-104, but will be the underdog at Londonderry, a 42-26 winner in the regular season.
“They’re a good team,” Pike said of the Lancers. “They’re undefeated for a reason and they’ve beaten everybody soundly in every game they’ve played. They’re going to be a big challenge, but our kids are up to it and we’ll see what’ll happen.”
In that earlier game, Londonderry scored all five touchdowns on plays of 37 yards or longer.
“That was the second week of the season, so we’ve gotten a lot better since then,” Maroun said. “We’ll be ready for them this time. We’ve thought about this (game), but I don’t really want to comment on that.”
Salem 32, Goffstown 10
Salem (8-2): 6 19 7 0 — 32
Goffstown (7-3): 0 10 0 0 — 10
Division 1 Quarterfinals
Salem — Riley Mulvey 30 interception return (pass failed) 0:19
Salem — Josh Maroun 45 pass from Kaleb Bates (run failed) 10:37
Salem — Maroun 1 run (kick failed) 3:47
Goffstown — Brad Baxter 63 kickoff return (Kyle Pinard kick) 3:33
Salem — Maroun 1 run (Jacob Brady kick) 0:56
Goffstown — Pinard 35 field goal
Salem — Bates 13 run (Brady kick) 4:04
RUSHING: Salem (55-321) — Maroun 22-94, Mulvey 9-92, Brandon Wall 11-88, Brady 10-40, Bates 3-7; Goffstown (23-77) — Zach Picard 19-45, Jarrett Henault 4-32
PASSING: Salem — Bates 2-3-0, 83; Goffstown — Henault 7-18-2, 68
RECEIVING: Salem — Maroun 1-45, Michael Ference 1-38; Goffstown — Will Sasso 2-23, Jonah Lopez 2-16, Picard 1-19, Peyton Strickland 1-8, Caden Perry 1-2