BENNINGTON -- The schedule makers weren’t kind to the Mount Anthony Union High School football team to start the season -- bringing in the three-time defending Division I champion Hartford Hurricanes to Spinelli Field.
First-game jitters seemed to haunt the young Patriots, as touchdowns on three straight possessions to start the game by Hartford cost them in a 42-19 loss on Friday night.
"We should have come out firing right off the bat," said senior offensive lineman Dakota White. "We have a lot of first-time varsity players, but we’ve got to get that out of our system."
Hartford, on a 26-game win streak, took the opening kickoff and marched down the field, finishing off a 9-play, 57-yard drive with a 1-yard plunge to paydirt for a 7-0 advantage. On Mount Anthony’s first drive of the year, an option pitch was fumbled, giving the Hurricanes great field position in Patriots territory.
Eight plays later, it was more of the same for Hartford, as Patrick Libuda punched it in from 10 yards out to double the lead.
"We’re still a young team out there," said Mount Anthony coach Bill Hay. "A lot have experience, but they’re sophomores and juniors out there. It’s not an excuse, but we just had some early game jitters, maybe a little bit of intimidation. I was pleased with the way they fought the entire time."
Mount Anthony scored its first touchdown of the season with 2:09 left in the first half. Starting from its own 27, Damon Young completed two passes for first downs to get the Patriots to the Hartford 19. After a Tyler Mattison run, Pat Powers got to the outside and outran the defense for a 16-yard score.
"We had a lot of good plays, power worked good," White said. "When we run to the weak side, it was getting them off-kilter. We need to build on that."
Powers ran 10 times for 32 yards and the touchdown.
Mount Anthony kept the momentum into the second half. After the teams traded punts, the Patriots got the ball at their own 32. On the third play, Young found Powers out of the backfield, and the junior made the rest happen, going 68 yards to the house.
"Pat will be one of our workhorses, he’s an excellent athlete, great in space, we need to find a way to get him the ball there," Hay said.
Young was 4-for-13 for 106 yards and the score.
But using its experience, Hartford came right back down the field, with a seven-play drive, all runs. Libuda scored from a yard out to make the lead 35-12.
"That was a big swing on the negative side for us," Hay said. "That gave them a short field to work with."
In the fourth, the Patriots added their final score, a 58-yard run on a designed quarterback keeper by Young.
"A [final of] 42-19 isn’t terrific, but we had a lot of good things out of it. kids built a little bit of confidence, being able to move the ball the way we did," Hay said. "We just need to make those plays in the game at key positions to keep points off the board or forcing punts."
MAU travels to Mount Mansfield next Saturday at 1 p.m.