Storm strike early, stay perfect
SCHUYLERVILLE, N.Y. -- Moments before their football game ended on Saturday night, the Southern Vermont Storm saw and heard fireworks that went off in Fort Hardy Park.
Someone must have seen what the Storm had just done.
Behind a four touchdown performance by quarterback Will Cole, who connected with four different receivers for the scores, The Storm lit up Schuylerville Central School to post a 27-7 win over the Monadnock Marauders to move to 3-0 in the New England Football League season.
"The offensive line did a great job, Will stayed in the pocket and [he can] run and pass there. [Assistant coach] Tom [Kelley] did a good job calling the defense," said Storm head coach Pat Seaver. "The team is strong, the defense is strong. Guys have stepped up in different spots; I'm happy with it."
The Storm scored immediately in the first quarter, set up by a nice kickoff return by Marcus Anderson. Cole found Anderson on the first play of the game for 29 yards, then two plays later hit Nick Bennett at the goal line for a 9-yard strike and a 7-0 lead.
The first Marauders drive gained one first down, but two straight incompletions from Teddy Knutsen forced a punt. That punt traveled about 10 yards, giving the Storm excellent field position again. This time, it took two plays for the Storm to earn six - a 17-yard run by Greg Wescott and a 25-yard strike to Anderson from Cole and a 13-0 advantage halfway through the first quarter.
Overall, Cole was 10-for-18 for 235 yards and the four touchdowns with zero interceptions.
"He did a great job [running the offense]," Seaver said. "He can scramble, can make plays. He's a great athlete, he can make first downs [on the ground] and can run the hurry up if we do it."
The Storm were driving as the second quarter began, but fell back with a false start and a facemask penalty. Cole and the rest of the offense were undaunted, though, because on second-and-17, Sean Willette got behind the defense and Cole found him in stride for a 50-yard score and a 20-0 advantage.
"I'm going out there doing what I can to help the team win," said Cole, a Mount Anthony Union graduate. "I try to find open guys and give them a chance to make catches. They run the routes perfectly and if I scramble they break [the routes] off for me."
The best chance for the Marauders in the first half came in the final seconds. Knutsen heaved a long one toward the end zone that Storm defender Bud Hurley intercepted, leaving the score 20-0 at halftime.
Knutsen struggled as the Marauder offensive line had trouble controlling the Storm's front four. That group combined to sack Knutsen four times and force him from the pocket another six or seven times.
Sacks came from Will Telford, Vince Thompson and Matt Briggs. Carlton Harley also ended up with a half-sack. John Mooney, coming back to the team after missing the first two weeks, pressured Knutsen and his stable of running backs all night long.
"Our defense is all about pressure, which makes it difficult to run the ball," said lineman Kevin Coon. "It makes it easy when seven cover four [receivers]. We have a constant rotation on the D-line."
The Marauders combined for 152 yards of total offense.
"We made the quarterback scramble a few times and he paid for it. We were burned a couple times but most of the time we made the plays," Seaver said. "They had a couple long passes in the end, but our defense was too strong for them tonight."
The defense led directly to the Storm's only score of the second half. On the third drive, Telford's sack on third-and-8 gave Southern Vermont the ball back and on the next play, Cole and Mike Dunham hooked up for a 65-yard bomb for a 27-0 lead.
Monadnock scored its first points of the season late in the fourth quarter.
Knutsen was sacked on the first play by Thompson and after an incomplete pass, Knutsen found Josh Stagner on third-and-21 for 22 to keep the drive alive. Three passes later, Stagner caught a 20-yard TD pass for the final margin.
"We're taking the games as a really good practice," Seaver said. "We are strong during the week, but we're working toward a straight win season. We take each game like [our opponent] is the best in the league. Guys are in and out each week and others have stepped in. When the tough games come, we'll be ready for it."
The Storm have a bye next week and travel to play the Northern Berkshire Kings on August 16 before returning to Bennington for the annual game at Spinelli Field at Mount Anthony against the Southern New Hampshire Beavers.
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