BRATTLEBORO -- With three minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the Colonels' Tyler Higley hurled a 45-yard bomb to connect with Andy Harris deep in the endzone and give Brattleboro a 12-7 lead and eventual victory against visiting St. Johnsbury, in a thriller Friday night at Natowich Field.
"We knew they were going to play it close so we ran the short rout," said Harris. "But it turned into a much bigger play."
The Natowich bleachers were filled to the brim as it was Homecoming Night, as graduates, alumni, and fans past and present were in attendance.
"It has been a long time coming," said Colonel coach Mike Hatt. "We hung in there, but it wasn't pretty."
Hatt was right as things didn't look good for the Colonels until Higley's prayer in the fourth quarter.
The Hilltopper's James Dagasse got the short toss from Chris Connelly and went in for St. Johnsbury's first TD. They went for an offside kick on the return, but the Colonels were ready and Noah Simeon ran it back for 15 yards. Running back Elliot Gragen wore down St. Johnsbury's defensive line with a few plows up the middle.
After a turnover on downs, the Hilltopper's Colton Hudson carried the skin back for 25 yards and was face-masked. Running back Dylan Shattuck contributed to the march with a 15-yard carry, but the Colonels stopped two St. Johnsbury drives before halftime.
Struggling to hit anything on the outside with the short game, the
"I told the guys before the game that we'd have to win the next four rounds to get to the playoffs," said Colonel coach Mike Hatt. "So we took care of the first game."
The Colonels racked up a handful of first and second-down penalties in the opening half, including a dirty hit by Simeon for a personal foul.
Brattleboro was unsuccessful on most of their third-down conversions, and failed on both of their two-point conversions.
Running back Elliot Gragen rushed for 100 yards converting five first downs.
The Hilltoppers tried for one last push late as the clock wore down, but the Colonels held tough of fourth downs and prevented St. Johnsbury's final drive with a cover-four defense.
Brattleboro moves to 1-4 on the season and play at Burlington on Friday night at 7.
David Aquino can be reach at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 164.