BRATTLEBORO -- As his team got ready to receive the opening kickoff of Saturday night's varsity football game at Natowich Field, a South Burlington player on the sidelines exclaimed, "let's be perfect."
As it turned out, the visitors nearly were.
The Rebels forced five turnovers and remained undefeated with a 42-6 victory over host Brattleboro.
Speedy tailback Tanner Contois finished with 210 yards of offense and four touchdowns. Quarterback Hunter Riehle was 13-of-24 for 172 yards and three scoring strikes. And the South Burlington defense held the Colonels to just 1.8 yards per carry, recovered four fumbles and also got an interception from Rick Gouveia.
But the game didn't begin exactly how the Rebels had planned it to. Starting at their own 34, Riehle went in shotgun formation with Contois at his side, four receivers out wide, and the offensive coordinator sending in the play at the last second. Contois was stuffed on first down and later on a fake punt attempt, giving a pumped up Brattleboro team the ball at its own 39.
The Colonels' first six possessions ended like this: punt, fumble, fumble, fumble, punt, interception, and they were in a 35-0 hole with 2:05 remaining in the second quarter. Kyle Patno would then hook up with senior end Max Bostwick for a 35-yard TD pass to make it 35-6 at the break.
South Burlington's defensive line of Eddie Hockenbury, Jonathan Murray, Wyatt Shepard and Connor Chase controlled the trenches. And middle linebacker Sasha Kapriyelov -- an emotional Ray Lewis type -- was often left unblocked to punish ball carriers.
The Rebels built their lead via TD runs of three, five and 91 yards by Contois, and Riehle's scoring strikes to Contois and Jeremy Clements while getting plenty of time in the pocket. And Jack Barron was 5-for-5 on extra point tries in the first half.
On its first series of the third quarter, the visitors went 58 yards in just two plays to go ahead 42-6. Max Smith, a versatile end, started it with an 18-yard run. Riehle then hooked up with Cam Nolting for a 40-yard pass play. Barron added the PAT.
The BUHS band began playing music in their side of the bleachers, but the rest of the place was silent.
The Colonels would open the fourth frame with their best series, which ended with yet another cough-up. Patno had three short option keepers during the drive and also connected with split end Tanner Freeman for a 33-yarder. All this, after a 50-yard run up the right sideline by Michael Rooney was wiped out by a penalty.
Patno went 4-for-11 passing for 98 yards with one TD and one interception, and Freeman finished with two grabs for 51 yards, to lead the purple and white offensively.
The 1-2 Colonels will play at 1-2 Hartford on Friday night at 7.
South Burlington is atop the Division 1 standings at 3-0 along with Middlebury and CVU. Middlebury just defeated Colchester 28-6 and CVU beat Burlington 25-8. In other Week 3 contests, Essex upset BFA-St. Albans 10-6, Catholic Memorial (MA) defeated Hartford 28-12, Rutland edged MAU 13-7, and Mount Mansfield took care of St. Johnsbury 32-9.
Shane Covey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 163.