ST. ALBANS – Bellows Free Academy seniors, Owen Bonnette and Parker Gratton, combined for 165 total yards and two touchdowns as the Bobwhites powered past Champlain Valley Union 16-7 Friday night in St. Albans.
ST. ALBANS – Football fans in Franklin County will be able to nurse their post-Superbowl hangovers with live professional football this spring. The Vermont Bucks, an Arena Football team which began play in 2017 in Burlington, have announced a move to the Collins Perley Sports & Fitness Center in St. Albans for the upcoming season.
Enosburg notched its fifth win of the season with a key victory over Hazen on Wednesday. Both teams had entered the day with a 4-1 record and the home win will be a boost to Enosburg (5-1) in the rankings.
Levi Webb converted a Dylan Pattee pass to score for the Hornets in the first half before Hazen’s Isaiah Baker equalized in the second. Nearing the end of the first overtime period, Webb set up Shea Howrigan for the game-winner.
Ethan Jackson made six saves for Enosburg on Wednesday. The Hornets, who play again Friday night in their homecoming game against Winooski, forced nine saves from Wildcat (4-2) keeper Ethan Shopland.
SWANTON – The always heated rivalry between BFA-St. Albans and Missisquoi went a step too far on Wednesday, with a second-half fight between the two teams overshadowing an excellent 2-0 Bobwhite win.
Each team had a man ejected due to the skirmish midway through the second half in front of the BFA bench. The Bobwhite coaching staff and players from both teams put a quick stop to the melee and play resumed without further incident.
Outside of that distraction, the two schools picked up where they’d left off with a 1-1 draw earlier this month, knotted at 0-0 at halftime with BFA (4-1-1) pulling away in the second half.
“It always happens,” BFA Coach Luke Laroche said of the tight contests with Missisquoi. “We were in for it, zero-zero at half again. So to get one a little bit into the second half was nice and to get that one with five and some change left just takes a big relief off us.”
Matt Merrill knocked in the rebound of a Kam Dunsmore shot nine minutes into the second half and Dunsmore tapped in a cross from Derek Nadeau with just over five minutes left to push the visitors over MVU (1-5-1).
Dunsmore spent most of Wednesday’s 80 minutes causing trouble for the MVU back line, though with the Thunderbirds focused so much on him it was the rest of the Bobwhite attack that pushed BFA ahead.
“He’s tough to guard, he’s great one on one attacking guys,” Laroche said of Dunsmore. “I thought tonight we did a really nice job moving off of him. I thought Matt (Merrill) and Derek (Nadeau) and guys that came up through the middle, I thought we moved off of him well. That was the best I’ve seen us do that this year.”
Sunk in against a slightly superior Bobwhite squad, MVU looked well on its way to forcing another tie with BFA for much of Wednesday. Goalkeeper Kyle Gilbert’s seven saves and strong defensive play helped Missisquoi keep BFA off the board for nearly 50 minutes.
“Kyle’s keeping us in games,” said MVU Coach Jim Hubbard. “He’s a four-year starter, he stays calm and cool. He didn’t really have a chance on the two goals. He played well.”
“I’m pretty pleased with my defense and the overall team effort. We played hard. The best team won tonight, but if we had knocked the first one in then maybe we’d have had the adrenaline and gone the other way.”
Hubbard expressed displeasure with a lack of practice time thanks to MVU’s uneven schedule. The Thunderbirds faced a potent Milton team on Monday, BFA’s powerful Division I lineup on Wednesday, and finish the week with a Saturday trip to face a quality Middlebury (3-2) team.
“It’s unfortunate that the VPA has put us into eight games in the first three weeks,” Hubbard said. “We haven’t had time to work on things. It’s just not a fair season for us when you play day after day after day. We turn right around and play Middlebury then we play three games in three weeks.”
Overall, the MVU coach was pleased with how his team played and the direction it’s headed in. For Laroche and BFA, Wednesday was a good bounce-back following its first loss of the season to South Burlington on Friday.
“It’s good just to get ourselves back in the win column,” Laroche said. “Not a showing we want against a good team, but it’s good to come back and get a win every time we can.”
Caden Hart made two saves for BFA on Wednesday. His Bobwhites will look to stay on track with a night game at home against Mt. Mansfield on Tuesday.
For the entirety of her career as a Hornet, first at Enosburg Falls High School then at Lyndon State College, Michelle Wilcox’s contributions on the soccer field weren’t designed to be measured on stat sheets or with personal awards. A lifetime spent putting the needs of the team above self-service will be rewarded on Friday with just the kind of recognition the Sheldon native never sought when Wilcox is inducted into the Lyndon State College Athletic Hall Of Fame.
ESSEX – For the third game in a row Bellows Free Academy’s defense played well enough to win, but offensive turnovers proved too much to overcome as Essex slipped past the Bobwhites 21-15 in triple overtime Friday night.
“It really became a defensive battle back and forth,” Essex Coach Drew Gordon said. “We knew it was going to be a one-possession game at the end, and that was before overtime. Once we hit overtime, we knew guys had to make plays. This really was a defensive battle all game long, and it was our defense that won the game.”
The Bobwhites started with the ball to begin the third overtime. As Senior Dominic Liscinsky (23-113) took a pitch to the left he was hit by a swarm of Hornets at the 8-yard line and the ball came out giving Essex a chance to win the game.
“When you get in those overtime situations it is ten yards so anything can happen and it did,” BFA Coach Geoff Murray said. “The reality is I thought we did a nice job of tying it up again and then tough luck on the turnover. Give Essex credit, they capitalized on it.”
Essex’s quarterback Sam Bowen (7-35 TD Rushing, 13-27, 2 TD, 3 INT) took the first play of triple overtime down to the Bobwhite 1-yard line before plunging in from a yard out to steal the victory for the Hornets. “We had one yard to go, and I did not want to do anything too dangerous in terms of sprinting him out,” Essex Coach Drew Gordon said. “Bad things can happen if you try throwing the ball from there.
“Once we got to the one-yard line we wanted to see if our quarterback could get it in because we haven’t really done that before and it worked out for us.”
However, this game would have never gotten to overtime had it not been for the Bobwhite defense. They shut down the Hornets for most of the game, including creating three turnovers deep inside their own territory, in a scoreless first half.
“We were disappointed with the way the first half went. We were moving the ball reasonably well and anytime we got near the endzone we found a way to turn it over, so we have to be better at finishing drives,” Gordon said.
On Essex’s first possession of the night, driving the ball from their own 38-yard line to the Bobwhite 25-yard line on just seven plays before BFA’s Robert Gamache picked off Bowen at the Bobwhite 10-yard line with 4:42 left in the first quarter.
Then after a three and out gave Essex the ball at the Bobwhite 21-yard line the Hornets quickly drove to the Bobwhite 14-yard line before Liscinksy came up with a big interception at the BFA 14-yard line with twenty-six seconds left in the first quarter.
“We are not the type of team right now that can come back,” Murray said. “It has to be close, especially in this game, if we had been down two touchdowns it would have been tough to come back from. It is a credit to our defense for hanging in there because our offense didn’t give them a lot of field to work with.”
Essex appeared ready to take the lead late in the first half when Daniel Wicks (10-26) raced outside left tackle from the Bobwhite 3-yard line but as he was hit by a trio of Bobwhites at the goal line the ball came out and the BFA recovered in the endzone to keep the game scoreless.
The Hornets would finally sting the Bobwhites early in the second half as Essex took advantage of BFA’s first turnover of the game. Cory Giannelli stretched out to pick off Gamache’s pass across the middle setting Essex up once again inside the Bobwhites 36-yard line.
It would take the Hornets just two plays to capitalize as Bowen hit Peyton Stephenson (2-33, TD) down the right sideline for a 23-yard gain to start the quick drive. Then on Essex’s second play of the drive Bowen rolled to his right before throwing back across his body and finding Luke Meunier in the endzone, to make it 8-0 Essex, with 9:23 left in the third quarter.
“That really wasn’t the design,” Gordon said of the Touchdown. “He went to the receiver backside of the play call because the playset receiver was triple covered.
“He made a great adjustment while he was booting to his right, basically threw it back to his left and put the ball in a great spot. Number seven came and made a great play.”
Despite being down, the Bobwhites’ offense finally got something going late as BFA put together an 8-play, 74-yard drive to knot the score late in the second half.
Liscinsky was the catalyst for the BFA drive as he battled through on runs of 34 and 19 yards to help set up the Bobwhites at the Essex 1-yard line with 5:38 left in the game.
Gamache would then knot the score at 8-8 when he took a slipped in on a quarterback sneak before taking the two-point conversion outside the right end to set up overtime.
“We played really hard, nobody quit,” Murray said. “That was a tough first half where the field was kind of slanted, so to get out of the first half 0-0 we were very fortunate there. In the second half, we talked about how we need to keep grinding and trying to execute, and we will break one, which we finally did.
“I think he (Liscinsky) was feeling pretty good this week, I think he is finally feeling healthy, and it showed tonight. He ran hard and when he was able to get a hole he really hit the hole hard and was not going down easily. That paid off late in the game because he just kept moving his feet. He had a great night running the ball for us.”
After both teams missed field goal attempts in the first overtime Essex would take the lead in the second overtime, as Bowen again rolled to his right before finding Stephenson in the front corner of the endzone, to give Essex a 15-8 lead.
As the Bobwhites tried to counter, Liscinsky broke free on third-and-goal from the 11-yard line before being hauled down at the Essex 1-yard line to set up Gamache for his second goal-line plunge to pull BFA to 15-14 pending the extra point.
“We just said to the line, ‘you just have to get us a yard,’ and they were able to do that,” Murray said. “Robbie does a nice job of sneaking, so that seemed like the right call at that point because we did not need a lot.”
At that point, BFA called a timeout to discuss going for the win or kicking the extra point to extend overtime.
“We called a timeout because we wanted to discuss whether we wanted to take a shot,” Murray said. “But we decided we have a good kicker, so let’s kick it because the defense has been playing pretty well, so let’s extend it another overtime. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn’t.”
The Bobwhites (1-2) will look to rebound when they host Champlain Valley Union Friday night.
“We have to start with one game at a time,” Murray said. “We need to get the lead, do a better job of moving the chains on offense, and get our defense off the field. They have been playing really well, we have to flip that field position and control the time of possession to put some points on the board.”
The Bobwhites have scored just three touchdowns in regulation in the first three games. Moving forward, Murray stressed that finding offensive rhythm is what his team needs.
“I think it is coming, we have had a lot of personnel changes in and out. I think we are settling in,” Murray said. “Usually, over time, as the offensive line starts to gel a little more, now that Dom is back and healthy, we just need a week or two of practice to get the consistent offense going.”
“I thought against Colchester (last week) we were able to move the ball pretty well and get outside. Tonight, we had a little more difficulty outside, so we moved the ball inside. I think it will come, we just need to keep working at it.
“We have to mentally forget about this and move on to next week because CVU is a game that we really have to come out to be ready to go and play a good four quarters.”
ST. ALBANS – North Country knew just what to do once it took a second-half lead, playing a frustrating possession game and pouncing on a late opportunity to hold on for a 3-2 win over BFA-St. Albans on Wednesday.
The Comets (1-2) had rebounded quickly from an early Falcon (2-1) goal and went into halftime knotted at 1-1. The response to a somewhat fluky North Country goal midway through the second half was slower and a Falcon score with seven minutes left made Meghan Connor’s penalty kick with 17 seconds left a mere footnote.
“It just wasn’t our day today,” said BFA Coach Ben Marlow. “They did a good job of just continuously bringing everyone back. They’d lose the ball and then they did a really good job of recovering.”
Just over nine minutes into the first half Wednesday, North Country’s Riann Fortin hit a flawless header from the six-yard line on a Falcon corner kick, offering Comet goalie Maren McGinn no realistic chance at a stop and putting the visitors up 1-0.
Six minutes later, BFA’s Chelsea Raymond rolled a pass from one corner of the Falcon box to Lily Laughlin at the other. Laughlin wound up and hit a perfectly placed shot to the lower-left corner with enough pace to beat Falcon goalie Addison Cook and make it a 1-1 game.
Marlow praised the equalizing shot from Laughlin, and said more play like the setup to that goal is all his team is missing.
“The consistent piece is what we’re talking about there,” he said. “Just moving the ball to feet and playing the ball to a touch and finishing. That’s what we need to see more of, just that consistent play instead of settling for some of the further shots we took.”
The final 24 minutes of the first half was fairly even, with BFA getting a handful of chances from Meghan Connor, May Gratton and the rest of its attacking core and North Country forcing a pair of spectacular saves from McGinn (14 total saves) in the final minutes before halftime.
“I thought we had some good effort today, I thought our forwards played very well, they really pressured their backs,” said Marlow, who also acknowledged a strong game from McGinn.
“Maren made a lot of great saves, she made the saves she needed to make.”
The comment about McGinn making the saves she needed to make hinted at some unfortunate luck in BFA’s defensive end. Just before the midway mark of the second half, North Country’s McKenna Marsh lofted a ball from nearly 40 yards away toward the Comet goal. A combination of fortunate placement and the sun glare McGinn faced with BFA aimed west allowed the Falcons to take a 2-1 lead when the ball snuck under the crossbar.
“Those are the types of shots that go in the net sometimes and sometimes they go off the crossbar,” said Marlow, whose team would go down another goal when North Country’s Alexis Lefaivre knocked in a loose ball from a few feet in front of the BFA net with 7:33 left.
Now down 3-1, BFA pushed valiantly but ran out of time. The Comets’ earned a penalty kick with 17 seconds left and Connor’s strike froze Cook to make it 3-2, but North Country blasted the ensuing kickoff far enough down the field to allow the clock to run out.
Marlow was able to pick a few tweaks he’d like to see his team make, but is overall pleased with where his team is at this early point in the season.
“I thought at times we got exposed on the wings a little bit, it’s just something we need to work on,” he said. “The effort is there, our effort is there all around. I think we just need to play more consistently. It’s in spurts; we play really well then we let off the gas.”
“It’s got to be more consistent and I think that starts from the basic technical stuff. Some of our first touches are getting out of the way on us.”
Cook stopped four shots for North Country on Wednesday.
BFA’s next chance to put 80 minutes together comes on Tuesday when the Comets host Burlington in a night game at Collins Perley.