Eagle football throttles Vikings for second straight win

BRISTOL — The Mount Abraham-Vergennes cooperative football team did a lot of things right on Saturday, and the result was the Eagles’ second straight Division II victory, 36-16 over visiting Lyndon.
The 2-3 Eagles amassed 179 yards rushing and 156 passing; forced two fumbles, scoring after both; converted key third- and fourth-down plays; and took command with a 99-yard, 15-play second-quarter drive that made it 16-0 at 2:11 of the period.
They also scored again in the quarter to lead 24-0 at the half and added two third-quarter scores to lead by 36-0 after three. Lyndon (0-5, but only a six-point loser at 4-1 Burlington the week before) scored twice in the fourth. After three periods, the Eagles had outgained the Vikings by 342 yards to 154.
Senior quarterback Coleman Russell, who completed 10 of 17 passes for 152 yards a week after throwing for 220 yards in a win at North Country, said offensive versatility has sparked the Eagles.
“Coach always says we’re a running team. We run to open up the pass, so when we can do that it always works out well,” Russell said. “It’s good to have a balanced offense. If we just run the ball every time, they’re just going to load the box up.”
The Eagles ran well on Saturday. Russell, senior backs Devin Kimball, Wyatt Gendreau and Wyatt Gracie, and junior fullback Casey Kimball combined for 36 attempts and 187 yards, led by Gracie’s eight rushes for 43 yards.  
Russell credited an offensive line led by senior captains Kyle Pearsall and Josh Roscoe.
“They’ve stepped it up the past few weeks,” he said.
Coach Lee Hodsden said the improvement is team-wide.
“The boys are getting better every single week. We’re getting better on offense, staying on our blocks, cutting down on our penalties. We’ve got some good hard athletes who are giving everything they have in the practices and games,” Hodsden said. “And it really showed today.”
The Eagles scored on three of four first-half possessions, failing on only their first when they came up just short on fourth down. The Vikings moved on their second possession, but a penalty helped kill their drive on the Eagle 28.
From there the Eagles marched 72 yards in 10 plays, including a 20-yard pass to Dylan Bradford, and scored on the first play of the second quarter, a 7-yard Gracie run. Russell tossed the two-point conversion to Devin Kimball.
After a Casey Kimball sack helped stop Lyndon, the Vikings downed a punt on the Eagle 1. On third and 10, Russell threw long to Bradford down the left sideline, and Bradford adjusted and came back for the ball for a 29-yard gain to start the 99-yard march.
In the drive, Russell hit Casey Kimball for a 19-yard screen pass on third-and-11 from the Viking 40, and ran 21 yards on fourth-and-four from the Viking 25. Casey Kimball plowed four yards up the middle for the score. Gendreau ran in the extra points at 2:11.
The Vikings fumbled on their first play after the kickoff. Gracie pounced on it, and the Eagles got the ball on the Viking 23. A pass to Aaron Fanning helped make it first and goal from the 9, but a rare Eagle penalty moved them back to the 17. On fourth down, Russell lofted the ball to the back left corner of the end zone, and Bradford went high for the TD at 0:35. Gendreau converted again, and it was 24-0 heading into halftime.
Lyndon managed only two first downs in the third quarter, and the Eagles scored twice. Casey Kimball bulled in from the one at 5:15, a play set up by a 40-yard pass to Gracie. The Vikings again fumbled on their first play after a kickoff, and Kyle Beatty recovered at the Viking 38. Six running plays later, the final one a 2-yard burst from Russell, and it was 36-0 at 1:45 of the third.
In the fourth, talented Lyndon quarterback Marcus Reeb made some hay against a defense that included some substitutes, leading the Vikings to 100 yards and two scores. He ran for a 1-yarder at 7:55 and tossed the conversion to Cameron Murray, and as time expired tossed a 6-yard TD pass to Murray, adding a conversion toss to Olawale Junaid.
Reeb went seven-for-15 for 143 yards, but was sacked three times for 25 yards, with Eli Paquin and a combination of Cole Putnam and Fanning recording sacks. Reeb rushed seven times for 68 yards, and Junaid added 44 yards on nine carries.
Hodsden noted the Eagles, while still leaving room for improvement, made few mistakes on Saturday.
“We stressed from week one to cut out the mental mistakes and the turnovers, and things will be in our favor, or at least we’ll be in the game,” Hodsden said. “And the last two weeks we’ve gotten better.”
Hodsden said the Eagles have potential for more wins down the road, and praised their attitudes for rising to the challenge of playing in D-II.
“The kids never gave up. We get better every week, and I’m so proud of them,” Hodsden said. “It’s just so fun to be around them.” 

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