Hartford mauls injury-plagued Tiger football team

HARTFORD – Top-seeded host Hartford knocked an injury-plagued No. 5 Middlebury Union High School football team out of the Division I playoffs, 34-0, in a Friday night semifinal.
The 10-0 Hurricanes will be seeking their 26th straight win and their third straight title and fifth in six years when they face No. 2 BFA-St. Albans on Saturday at South Burlington.
The Tigers finished at 6-4, with their losses only to Hartford; BFA; by one point at Essex, Friday’s other losing semifinalist; and to Rutland. MUHS avenged that loss to the Raiders with a 42-14 quarterfinal win. The Tigers had earned the No. 5 seed with big wins over Colchester, on the road, and Champlain Valley, at home, in their final regular season games.
But that victory the week before Friday’s semifinal was costly. Players hurt that night or early in this past Friday’s game included fullback/nose tackle Jakob Trautwein, safety/kick returner/receiver Austin Robinson, linebacker/running back Mitchell Clarke, and running back/cornerback Nick Felkl.
Still, the Tigers held the Hurricanes to fewer than 300 yards, well below their average. Of those yards, 96 came on a meaningless fourth-quarter march.
But first-half Tiger turnovers and one failed fourth-down play gave Hartford good field position, and the Hurricanes cashed in with four short touchdown drives, of 46, 26, 6 and 35 yards. Halfback Josh Claflin scored all four on runs of 6 yards or shorter; he finished with 98 yards on 19 carries.
Hartford marched 46 yards after a long kickoff return to take a 7-0 lead, and then cashed in again when the Tigers fumbled on their first series and it was returned to the Tiger 26. Claflin soon after ran in from 3 yards out to make it 14-0 at 4:02 of the first.
The Hurricanes’ next score came after a long interception return that set up Claflin’s 6-yard run at 8:16 of the second quarter. The Tigers then went for it at fourth-and-1 from their own 35, but came up short. Soon afterward Claflin scored again, and it was 28-0 at the half.
The Hurricanes’ final score of the half started at the Middlebury 35 after the Tigers, who managed just 71 yards of offense, failed to convert a fourth-and-1. Eight plays later, Claflin punched it in from the 4, and Hartford had a virtually insurmountable 28-0 lead at the half.

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