RUTLAND, Vt. – The top-seeded Bellows Falls football team challenged No. 2 Mount Anthony to stop the Terriers’ run game in Saturday’s Division II state championship game at Rutland’s Alumni Field and the Patriots just couldn’t do it.
Bellows Falls rode its dominant rushing attack to a D-II state title, beating MAU 57-35 for the Terriers’ first title in five years. Bellows Falls finished the season with a spotless 11-0 record.
“We knew that we had a really nice looking backfield coming back. We just didn’t know what was going to happen up front,” said Bellows Falls coach Bob Lockerby. “Up front was our greatest surprise and happiness throughout the season. They just kept getting better and better.
“Our line is pretty darn good. It feels great because it’s the last day you’re allowed to play football and that’s the day you want to be playing.”
Bellows Falls’ Jeb Monier and Jeb Lober rushed for 141 yards and 127 yards respectively and both carried in three touchdowns.
“It’s amazing. Every practice we come out and work,” Lober said. “We came out and showed everyone. The key to our run game working was our line. They blew everyone away.”
All season long, the Terriers have jumped on teams quick and forced them to climb out of deep holes.
Saturday’s effort was no different. Bellows Falls took the ball down the field in 11 plays, scoring on a 7-yard run by Monier.
MAU moved the ball close to midfield, but stalled out after a false start penalty. The Patriots went for a fake punt play, but their pass fell incomplete.
On the next play from scrimmage, Terriers quarterback Jon Terry took a keeper down the right side of the field for a 41-yard score.
Bellows Falls tacked on another touchdown to start the second quarter on a 37-yard TD run down the left sideline by Monier, and after an interception by junior Jamison Nystrom, Lober found paydirt on the fifth play of the Terriers’ next drive.
The Patriots found some offense in the second half. They started the opening third-quarter drive from their own 35, but quickly moved the ball into the red zone. They finished it off with a 6-yard Tanner Bushee–Ayman Naser connection.
MAU called an onside kick play on the ensuing kickoff and recovered it, before scoring two plays later on another Bushee pass to Naser.
“We knew they weren’t going to be the same MAU team we played the second week of the season,” Lockerby said. “I also know in my mind that they weren’t seeing the same team either. We got better as the season went on too.”
The Patriots showed a ton of fire cutting the lead to two scores, but if you can’t stop the other team from scoring, you’re not going to be in a good position.
That onside kick was the only thing that was going to slow Bellows Falls down on this day.
Lober scored on the next drive for the Terriers after MAU tried another onside kick that failed.
Bushee threw his third touchdown pass of the day on the Patriots’ next drive, this one an 8-yard strike to Austin Grogan.
Bushee finished the day with 333 yards passing to go with his three touchdowns. Naser and Grogan both went over 100 yards receiving.
Monier rushed for a 63-yard score for Bellows Falls, following the MAU score and the Terriers scored again on a Lober run early in the fourth quarter.
After Hayden Gaudette ran in his first of two fourth-quarter TDs for the Patriots, Bellows Falls broke out its lone pass of the day, a trick play that saw Nystrom connect with Max Hooke for a 39-yard TD.
Gaudette’s second touchdown completed the scoring.
It was an amazing way for Bellows Falls’ 10 seniors to cap off their high school careers.
“I told my seniors that I have a little surprise for you,” Lockerby said. “Unless it gets really ugly don’t be expecting to be coming out any time soon. MAU made sure it didn’t get really ugly. This group bought in. They understood.”
Buying into the system made the Terriers champions on Saturday.
Written by Adam Aucoin, Eagle Times