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Tigers Overcome Mt. Anthony’s Upset Bid 21-13

photo by Photo Provided

photo by Photo Provided

photo by Photo Provided

photo by Photo Provided

Tuesday September 1, 2015

By Mike Cameron

The 2015 MUHS Tiger Varsity Football Team continues to be a work in progress.
On Friday Night, August 28th, 2015, Middlebury opened defense of its Division 1 VPA State Championship by hosting the Patriots of Mount Anthony Union High who traveled to Doc Collins Memorial Field from Bennington.
    Tiger fans were chomping at the bit to see the 2015 edition of their Team this past Friday night. Could the Patriots spring an upset shocker in “TheTiger's Den?”    
MAU won the toss and went on defense.  The first series for Middlebury was stopped cold and Oakley Gordon was forced to punt.  A good return gave MAU the ball at the Patriot 41-yard line.  Quarterback Noah Normyle pushed it to the 43 and on the second play of the series, he launched a pass down the right sideline to Will Fisher that arched about 25yards in the air and Fisher raced away from the Tiger secondary for a touchdown. The kick was good and the visitors were up 7-0.  Mount Anthony had come to play and play hard.  Tiger fans were in shock.The Tigers showed plenty of their old form, in spurts, in the first half, with Ali Abdul-Stater flashing his speed and quickness.  Cort Fischer went to work up between the tackles and on slants but Mt. Anthony did their homework and Coach John Martin's 3-3 defensive front with plenty of people off the ball worked well early on.  Open field tackling by MAU was on target with Pat Powers and Jason Bump leading the charge.
Middlebury countered with Chris Grier, Nick Beauchamp, Wyatt Laberge, and Bruce Wright who recovered a Pat fumble early.  If you like defensive football, this one was a dandy early on.  Both teams pounded on each other, mistakes were made, fumbles lost, balls tipped, penalties prevailed and coaches got gray hair.  Tiger Touchdowns were called back,  No one scored officially the rest of the half which ended 7-0 Patriots.  It could have been much higher in the Tigers favor. Mistakes hurt plenty.
   The Tigers came out mauling in  the second half
They stopped Mt. Anthony stiff on their first possession and started to move the ball on offense with Oakley Gordon at the controls.  Gordon got the option clicking, the offensive line started to execute and the Tigers were gaining momentum.  Patriot coaches extorted their players from the sidelines to hang tough and dig in.
  Middlebury fashioned a 55-yard drive in the 3rd Quarter as only the Tigers can and the Pats could not stop them on two big third down plays.  Fisher bulled into the end zone at the 6:27 mark of the 3rd Quarter and Gordon booted the point after.  The Tigers were back. It was now tied 7-7.
   Middlebury went back to work on offense again after the Tigers defense began to make plays against the run.  The Tigers held MAU to a mere 31-yards on the ground for the entire game.  At the 4:59 mark in the 3rd Quarter, Gordon and Sawyer Ryan hooked up on a smooth-as-silk pass and run to the Patriot 1-line.  Abdul-Stater slashed in for the touchdown on the next play and Gordon kicked the point.  Middlebury was now up 14-7, taking the lead for the first time in the ballgame.
   It was far from over however.  The 4th Quarter reverted back to the first quarter struggle with the Patriots and Tigers going at it at the line of scrimmage, Normyle continued to fill the air full of footballs many being caught for good yardage and the Pats threatening to regain the momentum.  They seem to have gotten their second wind.  The Tigers Jerry Niemo would have none of it.  Niemo intercepted the Pat QB and raced 35-yards into the end zone for a touchdown as anxious Tiger fans were looking for another referee call back on the play.  Three other Tiger TDs were not allowed because of penalties.
Niemo's score was solid and the Tigers led 21-7.   But the wild first game of the season was not over yet, not by a long shot.
    Normyle who ended up 15 of 24 for 227 yards passing, launched a 31-yard rainbow to Damon Burgess on a desperation 4th and 10 play and Burgess made an amazing leaping,twisting, catch after tipping the ball to himself and landing in-bounds in the right corner of the north end-zone.  Tiger fans felt he was out; but the referee signaled TD.  That made it 21-13 with the Pats missing the point after but still roaring back with momentum.  Time was their enemy.  Only 1:15 remained in the 4th Quarter and the Tigers were up and ready for the on-side-kick.  They covered it like a blanket and sealed their first win of the 2015 campaign.  Mt. Anthony Football will be a hand-full the rest of the way, this year. They play to win.  Next up for Middlebury will be BFA Saint Albans here at Doc Collins and a 7p.m. Kickoff Friday night September 4th.   The Tigers are the real deal once again, with plenty of work still needing to be done.  They have the horses and their fans are ready to race in 2015.  

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