CASTLETON, Vt. — Cameron Davio predicted a great performance for New Hampshire’s defensive line earlier this week during Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl media day.
The Lebanon High defensive end helped bring that prediction to fruition on Saturday, as Granite State took a last-minute defensive stance in a 7-0 victory for its second straight Shrine Bowl shutout and third straight win overall.
“(Vermont) kept trying to test me,” Davio said. “I worked my hands and just tried to get lean and flip my hips and go around the edge, and most of the time they were running into me. It worked out pretty well and I couldn’t be happier right now.
Davio had a record 2.5 tackles for the loss, but the biggest impact may have belonged to Raiders teammate linebacker Justin Decarlo. Decarlo led New Hampshire with seven tackles, recovered a first-quarter fumble and stripped Vermont Gatorade Player of the Year Slade Postemski on a fourth down in the red zone with less than 30 seconds left.
The victory sent Lebanon head coach Chris Childs and his team on a high in their final game together. Childs, a Lebanese graduate who played in the Shrine Bowl in 1995 and also coached New Hampshire in 2011, announced in February that he would step down after 15 years in charge of the Raiders.
“When you put your heart and soul into something that means so much to you, it’s hard not to get emotional,” Childs said.
The teams traded punts and fumbles in the first quarter, and after Vermont flipped the ball over New Hampshire’s 20-yard line early in the second, the Granite Staters got into the game-breaking drive – a game of 12, 80-yard march that was 6 minutes and 47 seconds behind.
Lebanon’s CJ Childs – Chris’s son – completed a 14-yard reception on third down to get New Hampshire through midfield and move the chains, and Hanover’s Seamus Murphy carried the drive three times. Londonderry quarterback Aidan Washington’s 26-yard pass in play action to Sanborn’s Kevin Kolodziej gave the Granite State team the lead.
Childs used Kolodziej, who is listed as a quarterback, mostly as a runner on direct snaps – he didn’t attempt a pass but carried for 58 yards nine times, and the game’s only touchdown was his only reception .
“He’s just a beast,” Childs said. “You don’t have a lot of 6-foot-5, 225-pound kids who can run around.”
Vermont’s last chance to score before halftime was derailed by an offensive pass interference call, but New Hampshire missed the second-half opening kickoff return, giving Green Mountain State the ball over New Hampshire 32. Vermont turned it over on the downs again, later recovering the ball deep in their own territory after the Granite Staters kicked the other side of the middle ground.
Windsor running back Ben Gilbert put Vermont in prime position to score on the ensuing possession, breaking through the New Hampshire defense for a 69-yard run in what was by far the longest play of the game. Gilbert led all rushers with 94 yards on just six carries after helping lead the Yellowjackets to the VPA Division III title last fall.
“I cut it down the middle, made a tackle and passed another guy,” Gilbert said. “My legs were shaking a bit so I didn’t know how far I was going to go, but I knew it was a good race.”
But the Green Mountain State team went the wrong way from there, their conduct derailed by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. New Hampshire then occupied the final two minutes of the third quarter and more than half of the fourth, driving inside the red zone before a missed field goal kept them in a one-possession game.
Vermont drove deep into New Hampshire territory again, aided by a big fourth down conversion and an unnecessary roughness penalty. But the Granite State defense rose again, led by Decarlo, to complete the shutout.
“All I can say is that’s how Lebanese players act here,” Davio said. “He made a great save at the end to seal the win. I will really miss them, as well as the coaches.
Benjamin Rosenberg can be reached at [email protected] or 603-727-3302.