The Elwell Trophy returned to Brattleboro on Sept. 15 after the Bears pulled out a 14-9 victory over the Mount Anthony Patriots in a football game that had more emotional twists and turns than perhaps any other meeting in this long rivalry.
This game violated most of the conventions of football. The Brattleboro offense scored only one touchdown and played a thoroughly sloppy and undisciplined first half that saw 10 penalties and a turnover that led to a Patriots touchdown. While Brattleboro cut down on the penalties in the second half, the Bears gave up a safety and had two more turnovers.
So how did the Bears win this game? With great defense that held the Patriots' offense scoreless, and an electrifying 80-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Trevor Gray to start the third quarter. It also helped that MAU was nearly as sloppy as the Bears. They committed numerous penalties, including two that occurred near the end of the first half that led to the ejection of their best player, running back/defensive back Carter Thompson.
Bears running back Noah Perusse gave his team a 6-0 lead when he scored on a 1-yard run with 6:57 left in the first quarter. Carson Elliot's point-after kick was no good.
As the Patriots' offense was stymied by the Bears' defense, it looked like Perusse's touchdown might be enough. But disaster struck late in the second quarter when the Bears were stuck deep in their end of the field. Gray was hit hard as he was carrying the ball, and Thompson recovered the ensuing fumble in the end zone to give MAU a 7-6 lead with 3:58 in the half.
Mount Anthony had a chance to add another score before halftime, but Thompson was ejected for a pair of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties with a minute left in the second quarter and the Patriots' last drive of the half ended without any points.
Then came the play of the game as Gray atoned, and then some, for his fumble with his first varsity touchdown of his career with his 80-yard kickoff return to start the third quarter. Alex Papadimitriou caught a two-point conversion pass from quarterback Sean Cozza, and the Bears had a 14-7 lead just 13 seconds into the second half.
Being a rivalry game, tempers were hot on both sides and on MAU's first play of scrimmage right after Gray's big play, the game officials stopped the game and spoke with the coaches, who then spoke to their respective players to tell them to cool it or else the game would be suspended. The players obliged, and behaved themselves, more or less, the rest of the way. According to news reports, a racist remark made to an official by an unidentified player prompted the stoppage.
The Patriots later scored a safety when, after another great punt pinned the Bears on their 1-yard line, Perusse was tackled in the end zone by MAU linebacker Preston Baker with 8:19 left in the third quarter.
Brattleboro still had a 14-9 lead and looked like they would get some breathing room as the Bears put together a good drive paced by some hard running by Perusse. But the drive ended on the MAU 20 when Perusse lost the ball and the Patriots recovered in the first play of the fourth quarter.
At this point, both teams struggled to get something going on offense, but somehow, the Patriots had a chance to win the game on another fumble by Perusse that was recovered by defensive back Colin Brady on the MAU 31 with 2:14 left.
The Patriots got close, but linebacker Jackson Emery got his third sack of the game at time was ticking down. Emery managed to knock the ball from quarterback John Garland's hands and another Bear defender fell onto the loose ball to end MAU's scoring bid and clinch an improbable, but satisfying, win.
Now 1–1-1, the Bears will be in Keene this Friday night, while the 0-3 Patriots will play in Rutland.
Terriers tame Cougars
• After getting battered by Division I powerhouse Hartford in Week 2 in a 27-7 loss cut short due to bad weather, Bellows Falls was happy to start its Division II football schedule on Sept. 17, even though it was a Sunday game that involved a long bus ride to Jericho. The Terriers weren't fazed, and ground out a 32-22 win over the Mount Mansfield Cougars.
Mount Mansfield picked up a tie with Brattleboro in another weather-shortened contest in Week 2, but the Terriers were far tougher as they took a 19-8 lead at the half, then opened the second half with a 99-yard kickoff return by Walker James for a touchdown. BF built their lead up to 32-8, but the Cougars got a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter to make the Terriers squirm a little.
Bellows Falls, now 2-1, host U-32 this Friday night at 7 at Hadley Field.
• Bellows Falls started its week with a rain-soaked 5-0 win over Windsor in Westminster on Sept. 11. The Terriers led 2-0 after one quarter on goals from Hannah Terry and Emma Bazin. Ava LaRoss added another goal in the second quarter and Bazin and Moore added goals in the third quarter. Goalie Livie Clough made four saves to earn the shut out win. BF had an 8-2 advantage in penalty corners.
• On Sept. 12, Brattleboro picked up its first win of the season with a 1-0 victory over Otter Valley. The Bears got a goal from forward Emma Gragen early in the second quarter; midfielder Mallory Newton picked up the assist. The defense and goalie Ericka Fletcher did the rest as Brattleboro turned back chance after chance by the Otters, especially late in the game.
• Bellows Falls and Brattleboro then faced each other on Sept. 14 at Sawyer Field, and the Terriers won 9-1 in a game that started out close until the Terriers cracked the Bears' defense and started scoring goals.
Bazin had two goals in the first half and two more in the second half to lead the Terriers. LaRoss had a pair of goals in the second half, and Hannah Terry, Gracie McGinnis, and Olivia Hallock also scored. Brattleboro's only goal came early in the fourth quarter, when Newton scored with Gragen getting the assist.
BF had a 14-0 advantage in penalty corners and controlled the flow of play for most of the game. But it took some time for the goals to come, as the Bears held the Terriers to just one goal in the first quarter before BF scored three times in the second quarter.
"Brattleboro did a great job and had us on our heels at the start of the game," said BF coach Bethany Coursen. "We're still working on a lot of things, but this is a great group of players and the team chemistry is awesome."
Bazin agreed with her coach's sentiments. "We practiced all summer and encouraged each other to get better," she said. "It really helped to bring us together."
Bellows Falls, now 2-1, faces a tough stretch of games with a pair of home-and-home series with Hartford and Rutland over the next two weeks. "We'd much rather play the harder games," said Bazin. "That's what makes you a better team."
• Brattleboro lost, 6-1, to the Burr & Burton Bulldogs on Sept. 14 in the opening round of the John James Tournament in Bennington. Taylor Harrington scored three goals in the first 27 minutes of the game to put the Bulldogs in front.
By the time Jackson Pels scored for the Bears with a minute left in the first half, the Bulldogs led 4-1 and would stay in control the rest of the game. Burr & Burton outshot Brattleboro, 16-7, as Bears goalkeeper Sam Bogart made eight saves. In the tournament's consolation game on Sept. 16 against Mount Anthony, the Bears came away with a 3-1 victory.
• Leland & Gray needed overtime to defeat Otter Valley, 3-2, to win the Josh Cole Tournament on Sept. 16 at Dorsey Park in Ludlow.
• Mount St. Joseph crushed Bellows Falls, 8-0, on Sept. 11 at St. Peter's Field in Rutland. Brayden Schutt scored three goals, Kyle Costales scored twice, and Malcolm Whitman, Smith Remy, and Mason Greene all scored once. MSJ goalkeeper Dom Phillips earned the shut out victory.
Bellows Falls fared no better against Twin Valley on Sept. 14, as the visiting Wildcats rolled to a 10-1 victory. Hunter Roth scored five goals of the first 11 minutes of the game for Twin Valley, while Brayden Brown added two tallies. Corey Magnant, Steven Oyer and Niko Gerding also scored for the Wildcats. Malik Gordon had the Terriers' lone goal. BF ended the week with a 4-1 loss to West Rutland on Sept. 16.
• Leland & Gray opened the week with a 2-1 win over Arlington on Sept. 12 in Townshend. Arlington's Avrie Aldrich opened the scoring in the 22nd minute, but Sam Morse got the equalizer for the Rebels off a Maggie Parker corner kick with 19.8 seconds left in the first half.
Avery Hiner then scored the winning goal just a minute into the second half, with Parker once again setting it with a corner kick. Rebels goalkeeper Annabelle Brooks needed to make just three saves to earn the victory.
After a 5-0 win over Springfield on Sept 15, the Rebels won the champion of the Green Mountain Tournament at Dorsey Park in Ludlow with a 5-0 win over Proctor. The Rebels ended the week at 4-1.
• Brattleboro had a breakout game against Green Mountain on Sept. 14 with a 10-1 win in Chester. Reese Croutworst had a goal and four assists for the Bears and Sophia Albright added three goals and an assist. Grace Wright had Green Mountain's only goal.
• Twin Valley is still looking for a win, but the Wildcats keep getting closer. On Sept 12, the Wildcats lost, 2-0, to visiting Bellows Falls. Aubrey Maxfield and Dylan Stewart both scored in the first half for the Terriers. Against a much tougher Proctor team on Sept. 15, the visiting Wildcats lost, 5-0.
Senior bowling roundup
• Week 2 of the fall/winter season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League at Brattleboro Bowl on Sept. 14 saw No Splits and Stepping Stones (both 9-1) hang on to a share of first place, followed by Four Pins (8-2), Hairiers (6-4), Skippers and Four Seasons (both 5-5), Dumblebor and High Rollers (both 2-8), and PEWJ (1-9).
Roberta Parsons had the women's high handicap game (249) and series (658). Fred Ashworth had the men's high handicap game (235), while Warren Corriveau Sr. had the high handicap series (664). Hairiers had the high team handicap game (879) and series (2,522).
Robert Rigby had the men's high scratch series (605) with games of 226 and 195. Corriveau had a 598 series that featured games of 211 and 199. John Walker had a 564 series with games of 198 and 192. Chuck Adams had a 556 series with a 190 game, while Milt Sherman had a 536 series and Gary Montgomery had a 507 series.
Shirley Aiken had the women's high scratch series (459). Aiken and Nancy Dalzell each rolled a 164 as the high scratch games, while Carol Gloski rolled a a 163 game and Parsons had a 161 game.
Randolph T. Holhut, deputy editor of this newspaper, has written this column since 2010 and has covered sports in Windham County since the 1980s. Readers can send him sports information at [email protected].
This Sports column by Randolph T. Holhut was written for The Commons.