Otter Valley football loses tough game to Bulldogs

BRANDON — A few keys plays could have made all the difference, but Otter Valley football ended up being outplayed by Burr & Burton on Saturday with the Bull Dogs rolling to a 60-25 victory in Brandon.
The Otters, helmed by talented sophomore OV quarterback John Winslow, repeatedly tried to get successful drives going, but often were unable to convert on fourth down and were forced to punt.
Talented quarterback Jake Stalcup and backs Eric Cerra and Chris Redding carried the Bulldogs.
Burr & Burton struck first with 1:55 left in the first quarter with a running play by Cerra. OV went three and out on the next series, and the Bulldogs combined first with a long pass play then another run up the middle by Cerra for a second score with just 8 second left in the first to make it 14-0.
OV went three and out again, complicated by a late hit personal foul on fourth down. The Bulldogs used a combination of passing and run plays to march down to the OV seven-yard line and another score on a throwback pass to make it 21-0.
But the Otters kept at it and put together another drive, only to have it thwarted by a fumble recovered by the Bulldogs at the OV 16-yard line. But the OV defense made Burr & Burton go three and out, and the Otter got the ball back at their own 30-yard line. After an incomplete pass in and out of the hands of Justin Owen, OV’s Mike and Jim Winslow combined their receiving talents and on fourth-and-five, OV QB John Winslow threw a 15-yard pass to his brother Jim for the Otters’ first score of the game.
But, in the next series, Burr& Burton marched down the field again and despite the efforts of the OV defensive line, Stalcup threw a short pass at the four-yard line for a touchdown with five seconds to go in the half. The players went into the locker room with the score 28-7.
In the second half, penalties plagued both teams, with Burr & Burton penalties helping to convert at least one of OV’s fourth-down plays, which led to at least one touchdown for OV.
OV kept their hopes alive in the third. After a failed Burr & Burton drive, the Otters marched downfield and Winslow connected with Chad Lonergan for a score. Lonergan is also the kicker, and the extra point was blocked, making the score 28-13.
OV also recovered a Bulldog fumble, but went three and out. Then Burr & Burton failed to convert on downs, as well, after missing a first down conversion by inches. OV took over on it’s own four-yard line, but failed to produce and was forced to punt.
OV could not contain the Bulldogs’ running game and Cerra scored again up the middle with 34 seconds left in the third quarter, making the score 35-13.
The Otters put together another drive using the receiving talents of the Winslow brothers, Lonergan and Owen. A facemask penalty in the fourth quarter gave OV a first down on the four-yard line and up-and-coming freshman back Carson Leary drove up the middle for his first varsity touchdown. The score was then 35-19 after the two-point conversion failed.
The Bulldogs answered quickly with a long pass and then another touchdown run for Cerra, and the score was 42-19.
That inspired the Otters’ next drive with a beautiful John Winslow-to-Jim Winslow 55-yard pass for a touchdown, making in a 42-25 game. But that was the last score OV would get. An interception in the middle of OV’s drive was converted for a Bulldog touchdown with 6:08 remaining in the game. The extra point was wide and the score was 54-25.
The Otters drove downfield again, only to have another interception run back to the OV 35-yard line and then in for a score with 3:26 remaining, with the final score 60-25.
“We just didn’t make enough plays,” OV Coach Jim Hill said after the game. “We dropped two touchdown passes in the first half. The game could have easily been 28-28 at the half. Burr & Burton made the plays and we didn’t.”
The score also belies the strong showing of OV quarterback Winslow, who Hill said played one of his best games despite throwing two interceptions in the fourth quarter. Both picks resulted in Bulldog touchdowns
“I don’t blame John for those (interceptions),” Hill said. “He was just trying to make a play. I think John played outstanding today. Talk about a kid with a future. As far as I’m concerned, he’s the second-best quarterback in Division II. Today, we played the number-one quarterback in the division. John had an outstanding game.”
The Otters are 2-5 with two games left in the season. They host Bellows Falls at home on Oct. 20, which is Senior Day, kick-off at 1 p.m. 

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