Reeling after two big losses to Hartford and Keene, the Brattleboro Bears varsity football team have dusted themselves off and are now starting to play their best at the right time of the season.
After outlasting Bellows Falls for a win on Oct. 6, the Bears put together another solid effort in defeating Rutland, 21-7, in the Senior Night game at Natowich Field on Oct. 13.
Against Rutland, it was Bears running back Noah Perusse's time to shine. He ran the ball for nearly 150 yards and a pair of touchdowns, thanks to excellent blocking by the Bears' offensive line. Quarterback Karson Elliott also played well, throwing one touchdown pass to tight end Jackson Emery and leading a balanced offensive attack.
The defense, led by linemen Sam Maddow and Colby Bristol, held Rutland to one touchdown and forced an important turnover in the third quarter that ended a potential scoring drive. Aside from a few ill-timed penalties, the Bears performed well in all phases of the game and, as a result, beat Rutland for the first time in 18 years.
Both teams struggled to score in the first half, but Brattleboro struck first with a 50-yard touchdown pass from Elliott to Emery for a 7-0 lead with 6:59 to go in the first quarter. Rutland tied the game with 2:09 left in the second quarter. Aided by couple of penalties on the Bears, Rutland quarterback Noah Brutomesso finished a 47-yard scoring drive with a 1-yard sneak.
The Bears took control right away in the third quarter. After stopping Rutland cold on its first series, Elliott connected with Emery and Cam Cruz for a pair of first downs and Perusse finished the job with a 20-yard touchdown run for a 14-7 lead with 7:17 left in the third.
Rutland then was driving for a touchdown when the Bears made the defensive play of the game when Brutomesso was stripped of the ball on a quarterback keeper and defensive back James Davies came up with the ball with 5:12 left in the third.
Brattleboro turned that Rutland mistake into points when Perusse finished a 75-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 21-7. The Bears' defense took over from there to secure Brattleboro's most important win of the season.
Brattleboro (3-3-1) and Rutland (2-5) entered this game in ninth and 10th place, respectively, in the Division I standings. Since only the top eight teams advance to the playoffs, winning this game was crucial for keeping the Bears' postseason hopes alive. The Bears now have the No. 6 spot in Division I and face No. 2 Burr & Burton in Manchester in the regular season finale this Friday night.
Terriers edge Vikings
• Despite a rare two-game losing streak, Bellows Falls entered their Oct. 14 game with the Lyndon Vikings with a firm grip on the No. 3 spot in Division II. However, to hang on to that spot and a chance to host a first-round playoff game, the Terriers were faced with the task of beating the Vikings in Lyndonville without their best playmaker. BF barely did so in a dramatic 21-20 win.
Running back, kick returner, and defensive back Walker James was well on his way to a career game. James had 111 yards on six carries and would have been credited with a 85-yard interception return for a touchdown had it not been negated by a BF penalty. But James was hurt late in the second quarter after a 20-yard run and never returned to action.
At that point, BF was trailing 20-14. But sophomore running back Blake Bertrand and seldom-used senior receiver Curtis Green saved the day for the Terriers. Bertrand and teammates Jesse Darrell and Remy Lacroix picked up the slack for James on offense and Green finished a 10-play, 61-yard scoring drive to start the third quarter with a 34-yard catch from quarterback Cole Moore for what ultimately was the winning touchdown with 5:20 left in the third.
This game was not an easy one for BF. Lyndon started the game with a touchdown catch by Wyatt Mason for a 7-0 lead with 9:43 left in the first quarter. The Terriers responded with four long runs by James and an 11-yard touchdown run by Darrell to tie the game with 7:45 left in the first.
James intercepted Lyndon quarterback Ethan Lussier on the Vikings' next series, but after the apparent pick-6 was wiped off the scoreboard, the Terriers still would get a touchdown out of the turnover as BF drove from its own 18-yard line with runs from James and Darrell to set up a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Moore and a 14-7 BF lead with 2:09 left in the first quarter.
Lyndon tied the game with a 2-yard run by Lussier with 10:48 left in the second quarter, then shocked BF with a successful onside kick play to give the Vikings a chance to take the lead. Chase Sanville scored on a 4-yard run, but Lussier missed the extra point for a 20-14 Lyndon lead with 7:17 left in the second.
After James got hurt during the next BF series, a Moore pass was intercepted in the end zone by Lyndon's Beckett Bailey. But Lyndon could not make anything of it, and Lussier was intercepted near the goal line by Lacroix to end the first half.
Moore's touchdown throw to Green in the third quarter was the only pass he completed in the game. But that ended up being enough, that and kicker Tristan Boylan being perfect on all three of his point-after attempts. The remainder of the game belonged to the BF defense, which kept the pressure on Lussier, and to Bertrand, who did a lot of hard running in the fourth quarter to eat up the clock.
Lyndon had one last chance to win the game as they got the ball on their own 3-yard line after a successful goal line stand on defense with 3:31 to play. Lussier had two good chances in the final seconds with a pair of pass plays, but both were defended by BF and the Terriers walked off the field with a 4-3 record and still possessing a chance to host a home playoff game.
Now 4-3, BF will make another trip to the the Northeast Kingdom this Saturday at 1 p.m. to play No. 2 North Country in Newport to close out the regular season.
• Twin Valley stayed undefeated last week, starting with a 2-0 win over Leland & Gray at Hayford Field on Oct. 9. Steven Oyer scored on a free kick from 23 yards out in the eighth minute, and Hunter Roth got the insurance goal in the 45th minute, assisted by Cody Magnant.
The Wildcats had a 20-2 advantage in shots on goal, as Rebels goalkeeper Theo Kelloway made 18 saves to keep his team in the game. Twin Valley keeper Kaelyn Lackey had two saves in the victory.
Twin Valley kept rolling with a 6-0 win over White River Valley on Oct. 11 in South Royalton. Roth scored four goals, while Magnant had a goal and two assists and Brayden Brown had a goal and an assist. Garret Cunningham also had two assists, and Lackey needed just two saves to earn another shutout win. The Wildcats finished the week with an 11-0 record.
• Bratleboro got shut out by Wahconah Regional, 3-0, on Oct. 9 in Dalton, Massachusetts, but rebounded with a 3-0 win over Leland & Gray on Oct. 11 at Natowich Field. Ozzie VanHendrick scored off a corner kick from Charlie Kinnersley to give the Bears a 1-0 lead at the half. In the second half, Brattleboro got goals from Emmett Hoyer and Gordie Kalill to seal the victory. With a 2-1 loss to Burr & Burton on Oct. 13, the Bears head into the final week of the season with a 8-3-1 record.
• Rivendell rolled over Bellows Falls, 8-1, in Westminster on Oct. 9. The Terriers then had to forfeit a game to Green Mountain on Oct. 11 due to a lack of players.
• Brattleboro lost in overtime to the Woodstock Wasps, 3-2, in the Senior Night game at Natowich Field on Oct. 9. The winning goal came in the first minute of overtime during a scramble in the Bears' goal area.
Sadie Cheslawski got the Bears' first goal in the 21st minute, but Woodstock's Leah Kuhnert scored in the 24th minute to tie the game, and the Wasps took the lead with a goal from Skye Culley in the 42nd minute. Brattleboro's Montana Frehsee broke the tie in the 72nd minute, with Kaitlyn Pattison assisting, to force overtime. Bears goalkeeper Abigail Henry made 11 saves.
Against Burr & Burton on Oct. 12 at Natowich Field, the Bears were shut out, 4-0. Addie Redden scored two second-half goals for the Bulldogs, Megan Carson and Josie Powers also added goals.
• Mary Sanderson scored four goals and Maggie Parker had a goal and three assists as Leland & Gray defeated White River Valley, 5-2, on Oct. 10 in South Royalton.
Two of Sanderson's goals came in the first half, with Ava Lecours assisting on one of them. Parker got her goal, assisted by Jacy Stillwagon to give the Rebels a 3-1 lead at halftime. Parker set up Sanderson's third and fourth goals in the second half as the Rebels put 20 shots on the White River goal. Rebels goalkeeper Annabelle Brookes made 10 saves.
• West Rutland scored three goals in the second half to beat Twin Valley, 3-0, on Oct. 10. Camryn Williams, Hayley Raiche, and Ashley Beaulieu were the goal scorers for the hosts.
• Bellows Falls lost to Rivendell, 3-0, on Oct. 10 in Orford, New Hampshire, and lost a road game to Randolph, 6-0, on Oct. 13 to fall to 1-9.
• Otter Valley scored three goals in the second half to shut out Brattleboro, 4-0, at Sawyer Field on Oct. 9. Sophie Parker led the Otters with two goals.
The Bears then bounced back with a 1-0 win over Springfield in their Senior Day game on Oct. 11 at Sawyer Field. Erika Favreau scored the lone goal of the game in the final minute of the first half off a penalty corner. Brattleboro put 20 shots on the Springfield net and controlled the ball for most of the game. Bears goalie Erika Fletcher did not face a shot on goal as Brattleboro finished the week at 4-8.
• Woodstock made a pair of first quarter goals by Marley Olmstead and Hannah Gubbins stand up in a 2-0 win over Bellows Falls in Westminster on Oct. 10. BF goalie Livie Clough kept her team in the game with five saves, while Wasps goalie Paige Stone made eight saves to earn the shutout.
The Terriers then had their toughest game of the season against the Essex Hornets on Oct. 12 in Westminster, as the teams played to a scoreless tie. While BF had a 13-3 edge in shots, Essex had a 9-7 advantage in penalty corners in this battle of Division I heavyweights. BF finished last week at 5-4-1 and have four games on top for this week, the final week of the regular season in Vermont.
• Brattleboro built upon some strong performances at the Woods Trail Run at Thetford Academy on Oct. 7 with a record-setting run by Nico Conathan-Leach at its only home meet of the season on Oct. 10 at Fort Dummer State Park.
Conathan-Leach set a course record in winning the boys' race with a time of 18 minutes, 8 seconds. The Bears finished second to the Burr & Burton boys, with Mount Anthony finishing third. Rounding out the Brattleboro finishers were Jonas Ackerman-Hovis (12th, 21:05), Miles Ackerman-Hovis (14th, 21:19), Galen Fogarty (16th, 22:11) and Jude Anders (17th, 22:12).
The girls' event was won by Stratton Mountain School, followed by Burr & Burton, Mount Anthony, and Brattleboro. Stratton's Leigh Niedeck won the race in 23:05, Tillie Farwell was Brattleboro's top finisher, finishing 14th in 27:32. Brattleboro's Elliana Galdamez finished 19th with a personal best time of 28:34, followed by teammates Evie Kiehle (21st, 30:06), Priya Kitzmiller (26th) and Addison DeVault (27th).
• Brattleboro was runner-up to Rutland in the state Unified soccer tournament on Oct. 11 at Norwich University in Northfield.
Unified soccer is played 5-on-5 on a reduced-sized field and, as in Unified basketball, the partners facilitate play while the athletes do the scoring. While Brattleboro lost its first match to Woodstock, 4-3, and lost the second to Rutland, 3-2, both were competitive and all of the Brattleboro athletes scored a goal in the tournament.
Senior bowling roundup
• The standings got jumbled again after Week 6 of the fall/winter season of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League at Brattleboro Bowl on Oct. 12. Stepping Stones had a 1-4 week, while Hairiers had a 3-2 week to leave both teams tied for first at 23-7. Skippers and Four Seasons (both 18-12) are now tied for second, followed by Four Pins and High Rollers (both 16-14), Dumblebor (15-15), No Splits (13-17), and PEWJ (3-27).
Deb Kolpa and Nancy Dalzell both had the women's high handicap game (237) and Pam Greenblott had the high handicap series (672). Charlie Marchant had the men's high handicap game (247), while John Laamanen had the high handicap series (687). Four Seasons had the high team handicap game (916) and series (2,564).
Robert Rigby had the men's high scratch series (673) with games of 237, 225, and 211. John Walker had a 546 series with a 208 game, Warren Corriveau Sr. had a 524 series with a 190 game, Skip Shine had a 517 series, Jerry Dunham had a 508 series, Marchant had a 504 series with a 194 game, and Chuck Adams had a 195 game.
Carol Gloski had the women's high scratch series (498) with games of 185 and 176, while Kolpa had games of 178 and 161, and Dalzell rolled a 177.
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.