DURHAM, N.H. -– Very little separated the teams in Saturday's CHaD New Hampshire East-West All-Star Football Game at the University of New Hampshire's Cowell Stadium.
The West prevailed 13-7 when Goffstown tailback Connor Benjamin scored on an 8-yard run in overtime.
“I wanted to get in and score more than anything,” Benjamin said. “I ran my hardest and it paid off. We worked hard all week for this.”
The West had an opportunity to win the game in regulation, but Portsmouth's Rick Holt blocked Zach Ziemba's 41-yard field goal attempt as time expired. The East fumbled on the 1-yard line on its overtime possession.
“I feel bad for the kid who fumbled, but what are you going to do –- that's part of the game,” West coach Jim Schubert said. “I thought our kids played real hard, and that's all I cared about.”
The game raises money for Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. The West won the inaugural game 44-12 last summer.
“Real good football game,” East coach Bob Camirand said. “Obviously we were disappointed losing, but I can live with this. It was a great effort on both sides. Two quality teams and I thought two well-coached teams.”
The East trailed by seven until St. Thomas Aquinas running back Ryan Monette scored on a 1-yard run with 10:48 to play. Monette rushed for a game-high 102 yards on 25 carries. He also caught a 15-yard pass and gained 22 yards on two punt returns.
The only scoring in the first half came on a 1-yard pass from quarterback James Caparell to former Bedford teammate Brian Collins with 3:42 left in the first quarter. The scoring drive covered 60 yards in six plays. The big play was a 47-yard pass from Caparell to Collins, who had three catches for 53 yards in the victory.
Benjamin, who was a quarterback during his junior and senior seasons at Goffstown, led the West's running game with 57 yards on 14 carries.
Holt, a defensive tackle who will play at the University of New Hampshire, was named the game's Most Valuable Player. In addition to blocking what could have been a game-winning field goal, Holt had 8-1/2 tackles, including a sack.
“I knew (UNH coach) Sean McDonnell was here and I wanted to leave it out on the field to the best of my ability, and I think I did that,” Holt said. “Thankfully he let me play in this.”
The West averaged 3.6 yards per play. The East averaged 3.5.
Nashua North linebacker/defensive end Deric Wagner recorded a game-high 10 tackles. The West received 9-1/2 tackles from Bedford linebacker David Cannone and 7-1/2 from Stevens linebacker C.J. Gosselin.
“We were a little undersized, but the kids really stuck in there on defense,” Schubert said. “No. 71 (Holt) was by far the best player on the field. We couldn't handle him. He disrupted our three-step drop and our five-step drop so we had to start sprinting out in the third quarter.
“When you only have 10 days (to prepare) defense is always going to dominate. If you can look at film of a defense then that's different.”
According to CHaD officials, the game raised $301,500, which included $48,000 in in-kind donations (uniforms, food, etc.)....Souhegan's Tyler Ford had a 74-yard punt....Caparell, who is New Hampshire's leader in career passing yardage (5,389), completed 8 of 12 pass attempts for 97 yards. He will play for the University of Rhode Island....Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly, a former assistant coach at UNH, was among those in attendance.