PLAISTOW — Was Timberlane a much tougher opponent than powerhouse Bishop Guertin expected?
Just ask star quarterback Steve Cuipa, who was seen limping off the Plaistow gridiron last night after a hard-earned, deceptive 21-6 victory over the Owls.
Cuipa, who finished with a game-high 137 rushing yards, got leveled late in the game near midfield when senior defensive back Joe Joyce drilled him from behind.
The ball popped loose, Cuipa's second fumble of the night, and was recovered by teammate Ryan McCarthy. The BG tri-captain's night was over after that.
Two-time defending Division 2 state champion BG, which flattened defending Division 1 state champ Salem last week, got all that it bargained for and much more last night en route.
No damage was suffered from this hit, but BG (2-0, 1-0 in Division 2) will be challenged by the loss of standout running back Mike Kelly (TD on his first carry of the game, his sixth in two games) to a broken foot late in the first quarter.
The Owls (0-2, 0-1 in Division 2) were a far different team than in their season-opening lopsided loss to Pinkerton.
Timberlane kept BG under the gun most of the evening, but suffered a pair of breakaway runs by Cuipa that accounted for over one-third of the Cardinals' total offense and set up touchdowns for Kelly (9-yard run on its first possession) and Peter Fucci (11-yard screen pass in the final period).
Junior Zach Mailloux (46 yards on 11 carries) stepped in for Kelly and bulled into the end zone from a yard out in the second quarter.
Timberlane matched the Cardinals with a doggedly determined ground game led by senior Nick Lawrence. His elusive 62-yard first carry of the night set up quarterback Nate Lawrence's 1-yard TD run that drew the Owls within a point, 7-6.
Nick finished with 132 yards on 23 carries, most coming on the night's most impressive drive. Starting with 5:51 left in the third quarter, Timberlane toughed out a 17-play, 70-yard grinder that took over eight minutes off the clock.
Still embroiled in a one-possession game at the time, the march petered out and ended on a 27-yard field goal attempt that flew wide right. Fucci's score on BG's next possession made the miss hurt even more.
Physical play also challenged Timberlane as Nate Lawrence (ankle and shoulder) was sent to the sidelines and BG forced six turnovers, although none were converted into points.
Bishop Guertin 21, Timberlane 6
Bishop Guertin (2-0):7 7 0 7 — 21
Timberlane (0-2):6 0 0 0 — 6
BG — Mike Kelly 9 run (Ryan Card kick), 9:57
T — Nate Lawrence 1 run (kick failed), 4:56
BG — Zach Mailloux 1 run (Card kick), 2:48
BG — Peter Fucci 11 pass from Steve Cuipa (Card kick), 4:36
RUSHING: Bishop Guertin (42-244) — Steve Cuipa 16-137, Zach Mailloux 11-46; Timberlane (41-198) — Nick Lawrence 23-132, Luke Ouellette 11-65, Nate Lawrence 5-5, Ryan McCarthy 2-(-4)
PASSING: Bishop Guertin — Cuipa 3-10-0, 41; T (8-18-4, 72) — Na. Lawrence 7-15-2, 66; McCarthy 1-3-2, 6
RECEIVING: Bishop Guertin — Chris Ferlan 1-20, Peter Fucci 1-11, Tom Vailas 1-10; Timberlane — Dane Doulames 2-19, Dan Diodati 2-16, Jarred Diorio 2-16, Ni. Lawrence 1-17, Sean Clemens 1-4