DURHAM — Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough (9-2) was forced out of its powerful ground game in Sunday's Division III championship game at Cowell Stadium at the University of New Hampshire Sunday, falling behind 13-0 in the first quarter en route to a 48-14 loss to the Newport Tigers (11-0).
With their running game stymied, the Lakers changed to a shotgun-style offense and battled back gamely to narrow the deficit to 27-14 late in the first half on touchdown passes by quarterback Ryan Kelly to Andrew Brothers and Zach Swanson.
But Newport struck right back to take a 34-14 lead at the half and used their own strong running game to control the clock in the second half.
Kelly completed 14 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns while Newport's defense held the Lakers to only 92 rushing yards.
Running back Noah Wade scored five touchdowns for the Tigers and for 274 yards on the ground and had touchdown runs of 53 and 28 yards and a 57-yard punt return.
Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough coach Jon Francis said it was the punt return and other special teams plays that helped Newport widen the gap and put the game out of reach for the Lakers.
'I'm very proud of these guys. They played their hearts out and it just wasn't in the cards. But it's great for a small school like ours just to make it to the championship game.
It was the third time that the Lakers have advanced to the championship game and their first since 2011.
Francis noted that Newport, which lost in last year's Division III championship game, had something to prove after last year's loss and that the same thing might apply to the Lakers next year.
He noted that quarterback Ryan Kelly willl be returning, along with his entire receiving corps, and that the Lakers hope to make another strong run at a state title.
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