Raiders spoil Tiger football homecoming

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury Union High School football team came into Friday night’s homecoming game against Rutland averaging almost eight yards a carry on 128 attempts, according to stats provided by WVTK-FM radio announcer Bjarki Sears.

Those numbers took a hit on Friday: The Raiders (4-1) allowed the Tigers just 82 yards in 32 carries, or about 2.6 yards per attempt. 

And that might be the single most telling stat in Rutland’s 42-7 victory: MUHS simply didn’t generate any push up front, nor would the Raiders allow the Tigers’ speedy backs to run wide. And with the running game slowed, the Raider line harassed Tiger quarterback Tim Goettelmann (two-for-nine for 112 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions) when he tried to throw. 

TIGER SENIOR SIMON Fischer steps over a fallen Rutland defender and continues up the field Friday night.

Independent photo/Trent Campbell

“It just wasn’t happening for us,” said MUHS Coach Dennis Smith, whose team dropped to 2-3 and into eighth place in Division I. “Offensive line-wise we were just allowing too much seepage periodically, and we were not giving enough time for the quarterback. And, yeah, we were trying to hit the edge with what speed we had, but I take my hat off to Rutland. They came ready in all facets, and we got a lesson tonight.”

When the Tigers did get something going, mistakes proved costly. An illegal motion penalty helped stall one drive early on, the Tigers allowed Raider QB Ryan Moore to toss a 78-yard TD pass to Lucas Hubbard on second-and-15 to make it 14-0, the first Tiger interception came in Rutland territory with the score at 14-0 in the second period, and after a 30-yard reception Zachary Dunn tried to fight for extra yards, but fumbled when he was swarmed by defenders.

That turnover set up the Raiders at the 50 with 3:19 left in the half, and six plays later QB Ryan Moore hit Malik Henderson from 17 yards out to make it 21-0 at intermission.

The Tigers had a chance to get back into the game at 9:23 of the third, when Bode Rubright recovered a Rutland fumble at the Raider 46. But Rutland gang-tackled Goettelmann for a three-yard loss on third-and-two from the 38, and on fourth down a Tyler Buxton halfback- option pass fell incomplete when the Raiders put him under heavy pressure. 

The Raiders then marched down the field to make it 28-0 at 4:02 of the third. The score came on a 1-yard Dakota Peters run that was set up by 34-yard strike from Moore to Eric Coughlin on third-and-two, a play that caught the Tiger safeties cheating to stop the rush. 

“We just made too many physical and mental mistakes tonight,” Smith said. “And they came with an attitude, and they played well.”

The Tigers finally scored during running time in the fourth quarter, when Goettelmann rolled right and found Wyatt Cameron behind the defense down the sideline for an 80-yard TD pass.

Buxton (eight carries, 27 yards), Simon Fischer (seven carries, 20 yards) and Goettelmann (nine carries, 19 yards) let the Tiger rushers. 

Moore threw for 175 yards and three touchdowns; Tiger safety Mason Kaufmann picked him off once. Moore (94 yards) and Peters (19 carries, 101 yards) consistently found running room as the Raiders outgained the Tigers, 395-194.

Smith said the Tigers have to do better defensively.

MIDDLEBURY UNION HIGH School senior quarterback Timothy Goettelmann scrambles to avoid a sack by Rutland’s Griffin Plante during Friday night’s game in Middlebury.

Independent photo/Trent Campbell

“We were missing open-field tackles. And the secondary was too jumpy in trying to come up and help with the run, and all of a sudden there goes the ball over the top,” Smith said. “It’s having faith in everybody on your team and working together. We’ve got seven guys committed to stop the run. We’ve got four guys committed to stop the pass,” he said. “You’ve got to do your job.”

Smith noted the Tigers’ schedule remains tough: They visit undefeated Burr & Burton, in first place in D-II, this weekend, and host Burlington/South Burlington (4-1) the following weekend. 

He said is confident in what he called “a great group of kids” can regroup, but said they will have to dig deep. 

“My message is, ‘How are you going to react. What are you going to do to hopefully fix the things that happened tonight and be ready on Monday to practice again?” he said. “That comes from you. It can’t come from me. I can rah-rah. I can holler at you. I can do this and that. But it’s got to come from you.”

Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at andyk@addisonindependent.com.


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