Tiger football stops Rice, Cougars up next

SOUTH BURLINGTON — The No. 5 Middlebury Union High School football team overcame cold, steady rain and host No. 4 Rice on Saturday, 33-18, in a Division I quarterfinal.
The Tigers will visit No. 1 Mount Mansfield (7-2) this coming Saturday. The winner of that game will advance to a final to be played at Rutland High School on Nov. 10 at a time to be determined.
The Tigers and Cougars did not meet during the regular season. However, MUHS lost to both its potential championship game opponents: No. 2 Rutland will host No. 6 St. Johnsbury, both 7-2, in this coming weekend’s other D-I semifinal.
On this past Saturday Tyler Buxton sparked the offense for the Tigers in what was their fourth straight win, and the MUHS defense for the fourth straight game did not allow an opponent to crack 20 points.
Rice took a 6-0 lead on its opening possession when quarterback Ryan Byrnes tossed a 55-yard touchdown pass to John Rousseau.
MUHS responded with a 43-yard TD pass from QB Tim Goettelmann to Buxton. Buxton, who ran nine times for about 150 yards, kept that drive alive with a 26-yard run on third down. 
Rejos Neopaney returned a Tiger fumble inside their own 20 for a score to restore the Rice lead, but a C.J. Bryant four-yard run capped a 63-yard drive and made it 13-12, Tigers at halftime. 
In the third quarter Zach Dun returned an interception to the Rice 17, and soon afterward a nine-yard Simon Fischer run made it 20-12.
Buxton struck again as time expired in the third quarter with a 68-yard punt return to make it 26-12. Rice took advantage of another Tigers fumble, this one at their own five-yard-line, to make it 26-18 at 8:10 of the fourth on a short TD pass from Byrnes to Rousseau.
But the Tigers marched for the clinching score, a 16-yard Buxton run with 2:10 to go, and the Tigers could soon afterward set their sights on the Cougars.

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