It was 24 hours that the Bellows Falls Terriers football team will remember for a long, long time.
Last Thursday night, the Terriers stood on the turf of Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., as guests of the New England Patriots. Before the Patriots played the New York Giants in the final exhibition game of the season, the BF football program was honored during the pre-game ceremonies.
Earlier this year, the Patriots sent out letters to all New England high schools asking them to submit a documentary on football in their community. Bellows Falls was the winner and the football team — along with the rest of the school’s fall athletes and coaches — got the once-in-a-lifetime chance to see what pro football looks like at field level.
The players got back to Bellows Falls early Friday morning. That evening, the Terriers played their home opener at Hadley Field against the Mt. Abraham Eagles, and won going away, 31-6.
Mt. Abraham, a team new to Division II, is coached by BFUHS alum Lee Hodsden.
This is the first year at the helm for Hodsden, who was a star player at Bellows Falls and a member of the 1981 undefeated Terriers squad coached by Bis Bisbee. After a year at Worcester Academy, Hodsden was a scholarship player during his four-year career at American International College in Springfield, Mass.
Hodsden retired last summer after 25 years with the Vermont State Police. His younger brother, Chris, also played on the 1981 team and, after a career as a Navy pilot, returned to Bellows Falls to teach and coach. He is currently the BFUHS principal. Bisbee and the Hodsden brothers traded pleasantries at midfield before the game.
As for the game, it was decided in 13 seconds flat. That’s how long it took for Chris McKeen to field the opening kickoff, cut to his left, pick up his blocks, and run 85 yards to the end zone for a touchdown. Chris Doucet kicked the extra point, and later kicked a 37-yard field goal that skipped over the crossbar as BF took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter.
Quarterback Zac Streeter scored on a 5-yard run at the end of the second quarter to give BF a 17-0 lead at the half. But head coach Bob Lockerby was concerned.
“As excited as I was about Chris’s kickoff return, I thought our team was taking Mt. Abe too lightly. Lee is a BF guy, so he knew what we were going to do, and I knew what he was going to do. We wanted to make sure that if they were going to beat us, they’d have to throw the ball.”
Even though BF was without their top running back, Jahyde Bullard, due a knee injury, everyone else picked up the slack nicely. Streeter again scored, this time from two yards away, and McKeen had a three-yard TD run in the fourth quarter to make it 31-0 with three minutes left in the game.
Mt. Abe was a mirror image of the Terriers in that they emphasized the run on offense. Ryan Paquin led the Eagles with 163 rushing yards on 22 touches, but the only touchdown he scored came on a 23-yard run against BF’s second-string defense with just 20 seconds left in the game.
The BF defense bent — but didn’t break — against the Eagles, and forced three turnovers. Defensive back Jacob Streeter recovered a fumble in the first quarter that set up Doucette’s field goal; Brady Illingworth pounced on a muffed punt return in the third quarter that led to a touchdown; and inside linebacker Liam Hackett intercepted a halfback pass in the fourth quarter to snuff out a Mt. Abe drive.
Zac Streeter finished with 78 yards on 16 carries and completed two of his three passes for 35 yards, including a 27-yard strike to his brother Jacob late in the game. Jake Lober gained 52 yards on nine carries, and Shane Clark picked up 34 yards on four carries. Doucet was 4-for-4 on his extra point attempts to go with his field goal, one of the longest ever for a Terrier kicker.
Now 2-0, the Terriers travel to Newport to face North Country this Friday at 7 p.m.
Colonels win in OT
• The Brattleboro Colonels bounced back from a bruising loss to Hartford in their opening game to beat the St. Johnsbury Hilltoppers, 41-40, in a dramatic double-overtime win on the road last Saturday.
Running back Cheick Diakite led the way with five touchdowns, including the game-winner in the second overtime. He scored on runs of 3, 23, 10, and 78 yards in the first half as Brattleboro built a 34-27 lead at the half.
The Hilltoppers defense shut out the Colonels in the second half. Collin Urie countered Diakete’s big day with five touchdowns of his own. He ran for four TDs (11, 31, 6, and 10 yards) and threw a 5-yard TD pass to Brodie Talbot. Matt Roy also scored, on a 53-yard run.
Now 1-1, the Colonels host Middlebury on Friday night at 7 at Natowich Field.
• It’s a lot to expect of a team to score a goal in the first two minutes and then make that one goal stand up for another 78 minutes.
The Leland & Gray Rebels almost accomplished that task, but fell 76 seconds short. Twin Valley’s Kirra Courchesne scored the goal that sent the game into overtime, and Tayler Courchesne, Kirra’s sister, headed in the game winner in the second overtime period to give the Wildcats a 2-1 win at Hayford Field on Sept. 2.
Leland & Gray took a 1-0 lead just 1:46 into the match. A through-ball deflected by Wildcats goalkeeper Brianna Rafus was corralled by Ashley Bates, who guided it into the back of an open goal.
However, the match ultimately turned on a simple strategic change after an injury timeout in the 70th minute. “We huddled up and I told them that there had to be a sense of urgency to score. With four minutes left, I put in an extra attacker. It worked,” said Twin Valley coach Chris Walling.
Twin Valley had trouble finishing its chances, thanks to strong defense by the Rebels and good goalkeeping by Jordan Gouger. But the Wildcats were ready to pounce on a defensive lapse. Caitlin Hunt’s free kick from 30 yards out sailed over Leland & Gray’s defensive wall and over Gouger’s head and struck the crossbar. The Rebels failed to clear the ball out, and Kirra Courchesne knocked in the equalizer with 1:16 left in regulation.
Gouger and Rafus both played outstanding games, but after the first 10-minute overtime were scoreless. Twin Valley struck early in the second OT. Like their first goal, it came off a set play — this time a corner kick from Karlee Walkowiak. Tayler Courchesne was waiting in the goal crease and headed it in with 8:44 left.
“We practice corners all the time. We talk about getting to the ball first,” said Walling. “Karlee was just serving it to an area and Tayler was able to finish.”
Both teams entered the Sept. 2 match having lost their season openers. Against Mount St. Joseph on Aug. 29, the Rebels lost, 4-1. Haley Buffum got the only goal for Leland & Gray, and Gouger made 13 saves in goal.
• Brattleboro made it to the finals of the Mount Anthony Tournament in Bennington, where they lost to Burr & Burton, 3-0, last Saturday.
The Colonels held the Bulldogs scoreless for the first 30 minutes but then gave up goals to Shayla Heekin and Georgia Lord for a 2-0 halftime lead. Ali Lieter then scored in the first minute of the second half to put the game out of reach.
Colonels goalkeeper Megan Ayotte made 12 saves, while Bulldogs goalkeeper Anna Garay stopped all four shots that she faced.
Brattleboro advanced to the tourney final with a 2-1 win over Springfield on Sept. 3 in their first game of the season. Morgan Derosia had two goals for the Colonels, with her game-winner coming in the 65th minute. Ayotte made three saves for the win.
• Bellows Falls played even with Long Trail for the first 20 minutes, but after a water breakm it was all Long Trail in an 8-1 rout in Westminster on Sept. 1. Mikaela Martiros scored five goals as the Terriers’ dropped their season opener. Freshman Lily McAllister scored for Bellows Falls.
• Leland & Gray fell behind early as Proctor held on for a 3-2 win on Sept. 1 in Townshend. Braeden Fox had two goals for the Phantoms; Gannon Mckearin also scored. Pat Meyer and Bryce Karg each scored for the Rebels, who trailed 2-0 at the half.
Proctor goalkeeper Logan Landon stopped seven Leland & Gray shots, while Nick Morrow made three saves for the Rebels.
• Twin Valley was to have played Bellows Falls on Aug. 31 but the game was postponed because BF did not have enough players to field a team. Both schools hope to make up the game later in the season.
The Wildcats then ran their winning streak to 36 games with a 6-0 thrashing of Otter Valley in Brandon on Sept. 3. Justin Hicks scored three goals: two in the first half. Logan Park scored in the first half as TV took a 3-0 lead after 40 minutes. Second-half goals came from Nick Nilsen and Chad Robinson; both also picked up an assist.
• The Brattleboro boys’ and girls’ cross-country teams each placed third during their first meet of the season on Sept. 1 in Thetford.
Isaac Freitis-Eagan finished fourth in 19 minutes, 22 seconds, while Colin Costa-Walsh wound up seventh in 20:34 to lead the Brattleboro boys. Josh Meachen (12th in 21:16), Tyler Clement (17th in 22:04), and Phelan Muller (28th in 24:06) rounded out the top five.
Cody Tallent came in sixth for the BF boys in 20:21, followed by Nic Potter (14th, 21:44), Jackson Purdy (21st, 22:48), Cam Joy (23rd, 23:02), and Ethan Lauricella (41st, 27:25).
Thetford won the boys’ meet with 49 points, followed by Woodstock (54), Brattleboro (62), Hanover (82), and Bellows Falls (90).
Brattleboro freshmen Emilia Dick-Fiora (24:21), Sarah Gallagher (24:24) and Liz Morse (24:31) finished eighth, ninth, and 10th, respectively, to begin their varsity running careers. Team captain Catey Yost was 21st in 29:01; Emily Gale came in 38th in 34:22.
Bellows Falls’ one-woman team of Lia Clark finished second overall in 23:50.
Hanover won the girls’ meet with 20 points, followed by Woodstock (65), Brattleboro (68), and Thetford (74).