By Tris Wykes

Copyright Octopus Athletics 2021

NEWPORT, N.H. – During a crisp afternoon, the Mascoma High football team was anything but. The Royals lost, 52-30, at undefeated Newport on Saturday after trailing the NHIAA Division IV game by 30 points at halftime. The visitors contributed to their demise at Maryn Field with a variety of miscues.

Mascoma’s Damian Nestle (2) is confronted by Newport’s Bryce Ashley (35). Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

“Our mistakes killed us,” said Mascoma coach Kyle Colburn, whose squad dropped to 3-4 and concludes the regular season next week by hosting Fall Mountain (4-3). “They have a hell of a team and they just creamed us up front.”

Mascoma committed five penalties for 55 yards, three of the flags being tossed for personal fouls. The Royals surrendered four touchdowns to Newport junior Karter Pollari, who ran three times for 44 yards and two touchdowns and caught two passes, both touchdowns, for a combined 96 yards.

Mascoma, which finished Saturday with 14 available players, lost a fumble on the game’s first snap and Newport’s Tyler Gobin ran 39 yards for a touchdown two plays later. The visitors’ next possession ended after four plays and a partially-blocked punt. Seven snaps later, Pollari ran 13 yards for a 12-0 lead.

The Royals managed a seven-play, 43-yard drive upon regaining the ball, but turned it over on downs at Newport’s 32-yard line. Four plays later, Kyle Ashley threw to Pollari for a 77-yard touchdown that put the hosts ahead, 18-0, with 42 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Mascoma’s Connor Hobbs (60) reaches for a fumble. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

Mascoma had the ball back for all of two plays before Jayden Conroy intercepted a Tyler-Jay Mardin pass. Three snaps later, Gobin ran 18 yards for a touchdown and a 24-0 lead two minutes into the second quarter.

The Royals broke through on their next possession, Roman Farnsworth rumbling 39 yards on the first play and Mardin plowing up the middle on the second during a 5-yard touchdown run. Farnsworth ran for the 2-point conversion and a 24-8 score.

Any serious thoughts of a comeback soon evaporated. The Tigers (5-0) needed only two plays to score again, this time on a 19-yard Ashley-to-Pollari connection for a 30-8 advantage. Newport’s first five touchdowns were followed by failed conversion attempts.

The Tigers closed out the first half’s scoring with another blink-and-miss-it drive, Pollari running 23 yards for a touchdown on the march’s second play. Devyn Heino ran for the conversion and a 38-8 lead. Mascoma drove 42 yards and faced third down at the hosts’ 21-yard line, but Conroy again intercepted a Mardin pass, this time 9 seconds before intermission.

Newport’s Devyn Heino crashes into Mascoma’s Brody Goulette. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

The game moved to a running clock after Ashley bootlegged his way 11 yards for a touchdown midway through the third quarter. Heino accounted for his team’s last points with a 32-yard fumble return for a touchdown. The Tigers began substituting in earnest and Mascoma produced touchdowns on four of its last five possessions.

Seven Royals carried the ball as Colburn tried to spread the load amongst his players, most of whom play both ways out of necessity. Sophomore Damian Nestle, also a standout wrestler, rushed eight times for 46 yards and a touchdown, all during the second half. 

Mardin ran four times for 12 yards and a touchdown, Tyler Mekus carried four times for 87 yards, Josh Williams rushed six times for 49 yards and Farnsworth ran five times for 44 yards. Mardin completed 3 of 13 pass attempts for 35 yards and a touchdown and had two throws intercepted.

“We try to rotate people because they’re on the field for 48 minutes,” said Colburn, who began the season with 22 players, but whose current roster features 18, three of whom were out sick Saturday. “It’s a chess match just trying to get our guys some rest.

“At the end, Newport was getting its young guys in and we would have liked to have done the same. But who do we take out?”

The Tigers received 168 yards in eight carries from Heino, 121 yards and two touchdowns in seven carries from Gobin and 18 yards and a touchdown in three rushes from Ashley. The latter completed all four of his pass attempts for 108 yards and two touchdowns. 

Newport’s Connor Johnson (32) leads Mascoma’s Trevor Sawyer (50) through the hole. Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.

Newport, the defending Division IV state champion, concludes the regular season at Newfound, a 42-0 loser to Mascoma during the season’s first week.

Colburn, who said NHIAA coaches have been left unadvised about how Covid-19 cancelations will factor into the playoff races, figures his team is fighting Fall Mountain and perhaps Raymond for their nine-team division’s fourth and final playoff berth. 

Newport, Somersworth and Epping-Newmarket are in, the coach thinks, while Bishop Brady, Newfound and Franklin are out.

“We’ve been fortunate enough the last two years to have avoided a Covid shutdown and we’re proud of that,” said Colburn, noting that his team has at times practiced with 10 or 11 players because of family conflicts or lesser illnesses. 

“It’s huge credit to our guys for taking control of their personal lives, not going out and hanging around too many people, doing the best they can to keep us healthy.”

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Mascoma’s Tyler Mekus splits Newport defenders Tyler Gobin (22) and Jaydin Conroy (12). Copyright Octopus Athletics. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to ctwykes@aol.com.