GILFORD — The Inter-Lakes-Moultonborough Lakers have advanced to the semi-final round of the NHIAA's Division III football tournament after beating Gilford 27-14 on the road on Saturday. The Lakers forced six turnovers to win the North Conference title and advance to the final four. Four of the six Eagle turnovers resulted in Lakers touchdowns. Two of Gilford's drives ended fumbles inside the Lakers five yard line. "Those two turnovers on the goal line getting ready to go in to score, They are killers," said Gilford head coach Chris Marden.
The Inter-Lakes-Moultonborough offense did not squander the opportunities their defense awarded them in the first half. Gilford's first two drives resulted in turnovers and Lakers scores. "We worked hard all week. Defensively we had these kids under the lights from four to seven at Prescott Park just grinding it out in the dark and working on defensive schemes and it paid off," stated Jon Francis, Lakers head coach.
The Golden Eagles first drive ended abruptly on an interception by Laker defensive back Malik Carter, who returned to Gilford's 26 yard line. The Lakers offense ran three plays before fullback Nick Hurd bulldozed his way up the middle for a nine yard scoring run. The next Gilford drive moved down the field with ease and looked as though they had brushed off the previous turnover. Until a Gilford running back tried to punch it in from the two yard line and was stripped by Inter-Lakes-Moultonborough linebacker Derek Rossetti. The Lakers recovered the fumble and quickly increased the lead to 13 on an 81 yard run down the Inter-Lakes-Moultonborough sideline by Devante Carter. Carter lead the Lakers attack with 125 yards on 19 carries. Gilford cut the lead to six with three minutes remaining in the half on a Max Troiano 17 yard touchdown. Troiano had 144 yards on 24 touches.
The Golden Eagles began the second half benefiting on the only mishap by the Lakers when quarterback Joshua Blundo tossed an interception to Kyle Gaudet, who sprinted 45 yards for a 14-13 Gilford lead. Both teams traded punts before Gilford's Jack Athanas tried to thread the needle, but paid the price when a Lakers defensive back jumped the route and went 89 yards for the final lead change of the game. Inter-Lakes punched in a one yard Nick Brothers run for some insurance late in the fourth to secure the victory.
Gilford coach Marden commented on the season: "I told the guys after the game that I couldn't be more proud of them from where they came from last year. Coming from 1-8 last year to regular season champions. Those kids gave everything they had this year and it showed. To make such a turn around like that, it reflects upon their character. They are a great group of guys and I could not be more proud of them."