The Otter Valley Otters and Middlebury Tigers faced each other last Friday night in Middlebury for the final game of the regular season. But it was more than another high school football game for both squads. With both teams needing a win for any hopes of securing a Division II playoff made the game virtually a playoff contest, and that is how exciting the game was.
The Tigers led 6-0 after one period on a Brendan Burrell 8-yard touchdown pass to Devin Bradford. But the visiting Otters answered just seconds before intermission when junior running back Peter Bautista scurried into the end zone from one yard out. A successful extra point gave the visiting Otters a 7-6 halftime lead, but they wouldn't hold it. Middlebury reclaimed the lead in the third quarter when Kaden O'Dell intercepted a Williams pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown. Burrel followed by hooking up with Bryan Ashley-Selleck for a successful two-point conversion and a 14-7 Tiger lead with 9:25 left in the third.
The Tigers held that lead until the final minutes of the game when the Otters put together a game tying drive. With just ninety seconds left OV quarterback Zakk Williams connected with fellow junior Nate Fitzgerald for a 25-yard touchdown, appropriately sending the game into overtime with the two squads knotted at 14-14.
The Tigers took care of business in OT when Ryan Foley ran it in from 5-yards out to put Middlebury on top 20-14. The win was secured when Marshall Hastings intercepted another Williams pass on OV's answering drive. The win secures a Division II playoff spot for Middlebury who finish the regular season at 7-2.
The Mill River Minutemen finished their regular season last Friday night too, falling in Manchester 49-12 to the hometown Bulldogs. Burr and Burton quarterback Patrick Jordan fired three touchdown passes while Jared Bove scored three for the Dogs who wrapped up their 2009 campaign at 3-6. Mill River finished winless at 0-9.
The Fair Haven Slaters ended their season at 3-6 after losing on the road to the Champlain Valley Union Redhawks 31-20 last Saturday. CVU running back J.P. Benoit ran the ball 15 times for 98 yards and a pair of touchdowns to set the pace for the victorious Redhawks. Konnor Fleming contributed a key interception and one yard TD run for CVU who enter the post season at 8-1.
Slaters quarterback Jessie Maynard completed 12 of his 23 pass attempts for 191 yards and a touchdown pass. Maynard added a rushing touchdown in the losing effort. Running back Evan Amery contributed 91 rushing yards and a TD for Fair Haven who wind up the year at 3-6.
The Poultney Blue Devils have struggled this year, but they ended their season on a positive note when they thumped the Mount Abraham Eagles 52-12 last Saturday at home. Skyler Stapes scored three touchdowns to pace the Blue Devils. Nick Prior, Nate Snook and John Fairbanks added rushing touchdowns, while Poultney quarterback Chris Shepardson did his part by throwing a TD pass to Tud Davenport. Even the Devils defense scored when Scott Williams returned an interception for a touchdown. Poultney winds the year up at 2-7.
Mount Abe, who end the year winless at 0-9, got an 11-yard touchdown run from Sam Lieberman. Their only other score came on 25-yard touchdown pass from Chris Shepardson to Ian Shaw.
Top Seeded Phantoms Reach Semifinals
Keagan McDonnell scored twice and Justin Ratti made eight saves to lead the top seeded Proctor Phantoms 2-0 quarterfinal win over the Arlington Eagles in Proctor last Friday. Ryan Boyd made a dozen saves for Arlington, who finish the year at 10-6. The 15-0-1 Phantoms had a Division IV semifinal date this past Tuesday with Black River. If they pull that oone out they will play for the Division IV State Championship this Saturday.
Things didn't fare so well for the Rutland teams last Saturday. The boys fell in the quarterfinals to the second seeded Burr and Burton Bulldogs.
Meanwhile in South Burlington Brittany Pfaff scored four goals and Alayna Hauke made six saves to lead the third seeded Rice Green Knights to a 4-0 win over the sixth seeded Raiders in girls Division I quarterfinal action. Ellen Boucher contributed an assist to the win. Rice enters the semifinals at 14-2. Claire Maass stopped 10 shots for Rutland who finish the year at 9-6-1.