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Tigers Turn Back Raiders 19-9

Tuesday September 18, 2007

By Mike Cameron

  They have been called two of the best High School Football Programs in the state.

  Year in and year out Middlebury and Rutland have produced some excellent championship caliber squads.  

    Recently the two have played each other in Division 1 title games with Rutland having the advantage in wins in the big dance.

    Coaches Mike Norman and Peter Brakeley understand the dynamics of winning important ball games.  Yes they are all important  but some are more so than others at certain times of the year.

    Both teams came into the game with impresive wins in their last outings.  The Raiders used a last minute burst of offense to defuse So. Burlington for a come from behind win in week 1 and then stopped Essex in week two using a second half surge. They were 2-0.

    Middlebury won what can only be called a thriller at home 2-weeks  ago when they too came from behind and held off an over time charge by Hartford to preserve their 2-0 Record.

    Middlebury defeated Rutland at Rutland last year giving the Raders their only league loss during the regular season.  They eventually would meet the Raiders again in the D-1 Championship Game and lost in a contest that was close for three quarters.  Now a new year has arrived and the Raiders were back in town for a re-match.

    Rutland always travels with a big contingent of fans and this past Friday night was no exception.  The stage was set.  The Tigers were ready.

    Middlebury quarterback Sam Jones played his best game of the year running the Tiger attack.  “We like the way he is starting to tuck it and run if the pass isn’t there,”coach Pete Brakeley said after the game.  Jones was sharp on the sprint-option and ended the game 4 for 4 with the pass including 3-first downs and some dandy runs around the corner in key situations.

    Lance Robinson quickly showed why he is causing migraines for opposing defensive co-ordinators by ripping off a 72-yard run to set up a Tiger touch by Sean Foley.  The Tigers were up 6-0 as RHS blocked the point attempt.   

    Rutland moved the ball inside the Tiger 20 powered by a big offensive line and hard running by Connor Beerworth.

    The Tiger defensive unit would have none of it and forced the Raiders quarterback Mark Comstock into a 4th and 8 pass attempt that was thrown under pressure and fell incomplete just outside the goal line  near the right corner at the pylon...his intended target Brendan Lafaso could not get open in the swarming Tiger secondary.

    MUHS took over on downs and launched Robinson off tackle, through the stunned Raider secondary and one cut to his right as he outran everyone to the Raider 6-yardline a 77-yard jaunt that was covered very quickly.  The Tigers moved to the 4 and Jones took it in for the score on a keeper behind excellent  blocking.  Robinson nailed the extra point... Tigers were up 13-0 at the half, on a night that saw a strong southerly breeze, the Tigers had the  wind at their back for the second and 4th quarters a factor that would prove to be even more important in the second half.

    Rutland got it going in the 3rd quarter when they marched to the Tiger 11 inspite of some monster Tiger hits on defense.  Beerworth went over from the 11 on an extra effort carry after it looked like he might be stopped at the line of scrimmage.  Dorion kicked the point.  That made it 13-7 with the momentum swinging to Rutland and the visitors itching for a comeback win.

    A high snap that got by Sean Harrison was scooped up by the Tiger punter in the end zone and he ran it out the back of the end zone for a safety that gave Rutland another 2-points.  That would prove to be the end of the Rutland scoring.

    The Tiger free kick gave Rutland the ball right back and they started to grind it out once again moving into Tiger territory against a nasty swirling wind and a Tiger defensive unit that was in late season form.

   With 6:32 left in the 4th quarter, Rutland had it 4th and 2 just inside the Tiger 20.  Beerworth took a hand off from Comstock and was meet by Eric Fifield who was under a full burst of speed from his defensive tackle position.  Fifield stopped the Raider in his tracks and ended the Raider threat.   Middlebury then launched Chad Foley out of the wishbone and he raced 58-yards to the Raider 27.

    The Tigers plowed to the 9-yard line with Robinson going over for the touch putting the game out of reach for Rutland 19-9 after the Raiders blocked their second p.a.t. of the night.  

    The Tigers had gained some measure of pay-back for their loss to Rutland last November in the Division 1 Title Game, a contest that saw then junior Ben Almquist score a touchdown and play some smart defense in the secondary.  Asked after Friday night’s big win how he felt about that, Almquist was philosophical.  “It was great, we made some big hits and some big plays.  It was nice to get back at them and win here at home.”  

    After the game a cautious Peter Brakeley was quick to credit his assistant coaches Dennis Smith for co-ordinating the offense and John Nuceder the Tigers “eye in the sky” for his work up in the tower analyzing Rutlands various offensive and defensive packages.

    “It was a real cat and mouse game out there tonight.”  He said.

    This week it’s on the road to St. Johnsbury, a team that can spring an upset on any given Saturday afternoon.  Rutland had it 4th and 2 just inside the Tiger 20.  Beerworth took a hand off from Comstock and was meet by Eric Fifield who was under a full burst of speed from his defensive tackle position.  Fifield stopped the Raider in his tracks and ended the Raider threat.

    Middlebury then launched Chad Foley out of the wishbone and he raced 58-yards to the Raider 27.

    The Tigers plowed to the 9-yard line with Robinson going over for the touch putting the game out of reach for Rutland 19-9 after the Raiders blocked their second p.a.t. of the night.  

    The Tigers had gained some measure of pay-back for their loss to Rutland last November in the Division 1 Title Game, a contest that saw then junior Ben Almquist score a touchdown and play some smart defense in the secondary.  Asked after Friday night’s big win how he felt about that, Almquist was philosophical.  “It was great, we made some big hits and some big plays.  It was nice to get back at them and win here at home.”  

    This week it’s on the road to St. Johnsbury, a team that can spring an upset on any given Saturday afternoon.     

 


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