Eagle football 9 19 13
FAIRFAX — The Mount Abraham-Vergennes high school football team on Saturday saw tailback Tommy Lee Hodsden ramble for 300 yards on 23 carries, including touchdown sprints of 82 and 90 yards, as the Eagles defeated host BFA-Fairfax, 28-20, in a Division III clash.
Hodsden’s second long touchdown run — in the final moments of the first half — was the key play for the 2-1 Eagles, who later took their only lead of the day on a short Hodsden run at 6:49 of the fourth quarter.
Almost as helpful for the Eagles was the play of lineman Ty Combs. The junior’s backfield tackle forced a punt that led to Hodsden’s first score, pulling Mount Abe within a point at 9:28 of a high-scoring second quarter.
Combs also paved the way for the winning touchdown, driving his defender back and allowing Hodsden to run to the 3-yard line. Two plays later Hodsden rolled in for his third TD to finish a 12-play, 51-yard drive. Combs also prevented a second-quarter turnover by recovering a bobbled squib kickoff by BFA.
Coach Ernie Senecal said that the Eagles were able to capitalize on their line play.
“We had some guys coming off saying ‘I’m winning my battle coach, go to my side.’ So we started doing that more and more and it paid off,” he said.
Senecal said all his offensive linemen are playing well.
“Next week it might be (Erik) Eisenhower or (Paul) Sabourin. You get the right matchups, sometimes one guy’s quicker than the other guy, or stronger. We try to find that,” he said. “The coaches look for that up above, and we listen to the kids.”
After Hodsden’s final score, Fairfax had two more chances. After the kickoff, two runs picked up 21 yards. But two short runs and two incompletions — the last of which senior Kyle Mailloux wisely allowed to drop rather than pick off — turned the ball back to Mount Abe.
The Eagles went three and out and punted to the BFA 20. BFA QB Cam Place (seven-for-11 passing for 85 yards) had enjoyed some success throwing, and Fairfax went to the air again. Place completed three passes as the Bullets reached their 49. But the drive stalled on the Eagle 44, although many observers believe the officials lost track of downs and failed to allow BFA to run a fourth-and-three play.
Regardless, Hodsden picked up a first down with a 15-yard run, and Mount Abe kneeled down twice to run out the clock.
Early on, the Bullets, who reached the D-III title game last fall, made it 7-0 at 9:00 of the first quarter, covering 45 yards on four plays, the last an 18-yard run by Luke Langelier (114 yards on 16 carries).
At 9:28 of the second, Hodsden broke an 82-yard run behind big blocks by Combs and Sabourin, going off left tackle and up the sideline to close the deficit to 7-6.
The teams then scored four more touchdowns in about nine minutes. Fairfax needed just five plays to move 59 yards, a drive capped by a one-yard Place run at 8:09 to make it 13-6.
Then Combs recovered the short kickoff to put the Eagles back in business. They moved to the 21, but fumbled. But the Eagles then held, and a bad snap on the punt allowed Travis Bachand to drop the punter for a 12-yard loss and set Mount Abe up on the BFA 6. Three runs by fullback Austin Lafayette (42 yards on 14 carries) made it 13-12 at 2:36.
The Bullets quickly made it 20-12, moving from their own 43 and scoring on a Langelier run from the Eagle 1 on fourth down at 0:26.
Mount Abe’s kick returner slipped at the 10-yard line, but on the next play, Hodsden cut through a massive hole off right tackle and ran untouched to pay dirt. He got the call again on the conversion, running it in from the three to tie the game at 20-20 at the break.
“I’m sure (BFA) is going to look back at that and say it’s where the game turned,” Senecal said. “We were really fortunate to bust that one. But Tommy Lee, he’s that kind of runner. He’ll get three, three, four, and all of a sudden 60.”
In the second half, the Eagles then held firm on defense — with help from BFA miscues and penalties — and mustered the only score. Eagle QB Joey Payea followed the TD by completing his only pass of the game, hitting Mike White in the right flat for the conversion and a 28-20 lead.
Senecal said his Eagles deserved credit for avoiding the kinds of misplays and penalties that bogged down Fairfax in the second half.
“They made more mistakes than we did. It was a tough game, and I think we wore them down a little bit,” he said. “We have a pretty good ground attack.”
Overall, Senecal said the Eagles are making progress.
“We’re pretty happy with where we’re at right now,” he said. “We’ve got a ways to go, but we’re happy with the effort today.”