Football: Tigers, Otters continue dominance but Eagles fall short

ADDISON COUNTY — In Saturday football action, Middlebury and Otter Valley each won handily, but the Mount Abraham/Vergennes squad came up just short in a game with postseason implications.
The defending Division I champion Tigers moved to within one game of their second straight undefeated regular season by blanking host South Burlington, 50-0. MUHS, 7-0, and the winner of 18 straight games, can clinch home field for the quarter- and semifinal playoff rounds by defeating 1-5 Burlington at home on Friday night.
Unlike in most recent games, MUHS did have to play its starters in the second half after leading by 22-0 at the break. The Tigers then broke the game open when QB Austin Robinson scored on 18-yard runs on consecutive possessions.
In the first half, Cullen Hathaway ran 66 yards for one score and tossed a halfback option pass to Connor Quinn for another TD, and Justin Stone punched in a short run.
Bobby Ritter picked up 95 yards on nine carries for the Tigers.
The Otters spotted visiting Winooski two early touchdowns, but bounced back to score a season-high point total in a 55-28 win. Junior back Carson Leary reached the 1,000-yard plateau and ran for touchdowns of 14, 3, 6, 9 and 65 yards to spark the Otters, who moved to 4-0 in D-III, 5-1 overall. They remain D-III’s only undefeated team. Winooski dropped to 2-5.
Quarterback John Winslow threw two 39-yard TD passes to Joey Scarborough, and Brent Nickerson tacked on a 33-yard scoring run for OV. The Otters will close out the regular season with a date at Oxbow this coming Saturday, and a win over the 2-5 Olympians will earn them a top playoff seed.
Visiting Mill River edged the Eagles, 32-30, in a game important for both teams in the D-III standings. Mount Abe dropped to 4-3, 3-3 in the league, while MRU moved to 5-2, 5-1 in D-III.
The Minutemen bolted to a 32-12 halftime lead as QB Mike Morgan threw for three scores, all to Chris Patch, and 165 yards. The Eagles fought back as Ryan Paquin rushed 16 times for 167 yards and three scores, but their inability to convert points-after proved costly as their rally fell two points short.
Regardless, the Eagles look to have clinched one of the eight D-III playoff berths, with their result at Poultney this Saturday probably determining whether they are the No. 7 or 8 seed.
Mount Abe played this past Saturday with a new-look coaching staff following the resignation late last week of Coach Ernie Senecal; see story.

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