Tiger football thumps CVU; faces Rice in D-I playoffs

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Union High School football team took care of business against visiting 1-7 Champlain Valley on Friday with a 27-7 win. Despite the victory and an upset-filled weekend in Division I, the Tigers did not earn a home playoff game.
The 5-3 Tigers received the No. 5 seed and will play their D-I quarterfinal at 1 p.m. this Saturday at No. 4 Rice, also 5-3 after being upset by Colchester on Friday.
Upsets of Rutland (6-2) and Hartford (5-3) jumbled the playoff seeds. Those teams each dropped a spot to Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, while Mount Mansfield (6-2) leapfrogged them into the top spot.
The Cougars will play No. 8 Colchester and are the probable semifinal foe of either MUHS or Rice. The Tigers did not face either Rice or MMU during the regular season.
Coach Dennis Smith said the Tigers’ first mission has been accomplished with their three-game winning streak to close the regular season, a streak that started after a tough home loss to Rutland.
Defense has sparked the team as it bounced back from that one-sided setback, Smith said, and the offense has made critical plays.
“Get in the playoffs, that’s job one, and we’ve done that,” he said. “We’ve made bigger plays at the end in the last three weeks and executed, in terms of getting us where we are right now against teams that have been playing us pretty tough. Our defense has really stepped up, making great plays, not giving up the big plays.”
The Tigers — and for that matter the struggling CVU Redhawks — set the tone early in Friday’s game. CVU botched receiving the opening kickoff and started on its own five-yard line, and then fumbled its first snap and soon had to punt.
Tyler Buxton returned that punt 24 yards to the 15, and on the next play Simon Fischer swept wide right to make it 6-0.
CVU managed two first downs on its next possession, but CJ Bryant sacked CVU quarterback Ryan Anderson and forced a fumble that Bode Rubright recovered to end the best Redhawk drive of the half.
The Tigers’ third possession started at the CVU 33, in part because Wyatt Cameron punted out of bounds at the Redhawk 7, and CVU failed to move and punted short. Thatcher Trudeau then burst up the middle for a 33-yard TD on the next play. The first of three Rubright points-after made it 13-0 as the first quarter ended.
In the second quarter the Tigers scored twice to take a 27-0 halftime lead. The first drive went 67 yards and included runs of 33 yards by Bryant and 27 yards by QB Tim Goettelmann. Goettelmann capped it with a 1-yard run.
Buxton later capped a 52-yard drive with a 14-yard TD run. Goettelmann completed passes of 19 and 13 yards to Trudeau on that march.
The Tiger offense struggled a bit in the second half, and in the fourth quarter quick CVU freshman Angelos Carroll (seven carries, 74 yards) broke a 51-yard run for the Redhawk score.
The Tigers outgained CVU, 256-158 yards, with 94 Redhawk yards coming in the fourth quarter. Anderson failed to complete a pass in four attempts for CVU.
The Tigers rushed for 240 yards. Trudeau (10 carries, 88 yards), Bryant (eight for 52), Fischer (seven for 43) and Goettelmann (five for 40) led the way.
JUNIOR QB TIM Goettelmann readies to take the snap from center Josh Kerr in the second quarter of Friday’s home game vs. CVU. Goettelmann completed two of seven passes and ran for a touchdown in the 27-7 Tiger victory.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
Goettelmann completed two of seven attempts for 32 yards, but was also sacked twice for 16 yards. The Tigers made 13 tackles for no gain or losses.
Continued good defense and maybe a little better offensive execution will be vital moving forward, Smith said. 
“The regular season I felt we did pretty well, 5-3, but it’s a new season, week to week now. We’ve got to be ready to play next Friday or the season could be done in a hurry,” Smith said. “Offensively it’s making the plays when the plays are there. We had a couple big pass plays where we just overthrew the guys or we didn’t throw to the right guy. We’ve got to clean up the blocking on the line a little bit just to give him a little more time just to see those guys. So it’s all things that are fixable, which is good. And we’ll work on those and get ready.”

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