Hail Mary: Storm win title on final play

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BENNINGTON — Move over, Doug Flutie. There's a new Hail Mary for history now.

Down 12-3 with three minutes left, Will Cole found Marcus Anderson on the final play of the game for a 50-yard touchdown catch to propel the Southern Vermont Storm to a improbable 15-12 win in the Maritime Division championship game over the Vermont Ravens at the Mount Anthony Union Middle School on Saturday.

"We were going to do a long field goal try, we knew Will could kick it that far," said defensive coordinator Christopher Cipperley. "We were playing with house money, because we had 37 seconds left [to get him a chance]. [On the last play], everyone got in the end zone, Will let the ball go and when Marcus caught it, I wasn't sure he was in the end zone at first. The whole thing was amazing, Will should have been sacked twice on the play, He didn't see [the catch] either, he ended up on his back."

The Vermont Ravens took the 12-3 lead with 7:50 left in the third quarter when Ravens quarterback Clayton Torres hit Roy Rose on a catch and run.

The teams went back and forth throughout the next few minutes until there was 2:08 left. Mike Waters caught a pass from Cole and got into the end zone for a 30-yard score that cut the lead to 12-9. The PAT was blocked, keeping the Ravens' lead at three.

"Without Mike Waters, there's no Marcus catch. He was wide open in the end zone," Cipperley said. "Michael Hom had a big play on 3rd down [on the last drive] to keep it alive."

The onside kick was recovered by the Ravens but they weren't able to run out the clock, giving the Storm a final chance at a championship.

On the final drive, Cole maneuvered the Storm down the field, eventually getting near midfield with five seconds left. On the final play, Cole rolled right and lofted the ball into the end zone, where Anderson rose up to catch the ball and set off a celebration for the Storm's first championship.

Cole gave the Storm a 3-0 lead in the first quarter with a long field goal, but on the next drive, Anthony LaRosa scored from a yard out to give the Ravens a lead.

Torres finished the game 10-of-13 for 142 yards and a touchdown pass, while LaRosa carried the ball 20 times for 79 yards and a score.

The Storm finished the season at 10-1, while the Ravens were 8-3 overall.

"There's a sense of community and accomplishment," Cipperley said. "We've been through so much this year, we had to learn each other as players and new coaches, we went through personal loss, losing players due to injury and being down nine points with three minutes left. It showed the grit of the team, I'm very proud to deliver a championship to the town."


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