Storm struggle against burly Beavers

BENNINGTON - Southern New Hampshire Beavers quarterback Kiel Canada was last year's New England Football League Most Valuable Player in the AA Division.

Right away, Canada showed the Storm and the Bennington fans why he might repeat, this time in the single-A ranks.

Canada combined to run and throw for more than 400 yards as the Beavers knocked the Storm from the ranks of the unbeaten in a 39-19 win.

"They made adjustments. They have two skilled players and they kicked our [butts]," said Storm (4-1) coach Pat Seaver. "The quarterback is very good and his receivers have [good] hands. He's a playmaker, the MVP of their team and he showed it tonight."

Canada ran for 152 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, but also completed 12-of-14 for 260 yards and three scores through the air.

"He's a great athlete and he picked us apart," Seaver said. "We had our best guys out there and he did very well against us."

The Beavers (3-1) started the game with a trick, recovering an onside kick on the opening kickoff. The Storm defense held, and after a punt, the Beavers drove down to open the scoring.

Canada found Adam Gill on a 40-yard catch and run on third-and-14 to keep the drive alive, then the Beavers scored on a two-yard run for a 6-0 lead.

Gill was Canada's main target on the night, catching 9 passes for 219 yards and two scores.

The Storm fired back on the next possession to take the lead. After quarterback Will Cole hit Marcus Anderson for 12 yards on second down, Cole found Mike Dunham for a 36-yard touchdown. Dunham's PAT made it 7-6 on the first play of the second quarter.

Cole had a decent day under center, completing 16-of-28 for 215 yards and two scores, both to Dunham - who caught 8 passes for 131 yards.

"It's a big morale boost when we hook up on the good pass plays," said Cole, who has 16 touchdowns on the year. "Their [defense] is fast, they did a nice job to contain, staying on the outside and rushing the middle."

The Storm lead was short-lived when the Beavers scored two plays later. After a run on first down, Canada scrambled out of the pocket and outraced the Storm defense for a 62-yard jaunt and a 14-7 advantage.

"That killed us. We had good momentum going and they came right back down and scored," Seaver said. "We need to wake up and practice [stopping] those [long runs]."

The Storm were forced to punt on the next drive, foiled when Cole was sacked on second down. Canada and the Beavers took quick advantage. On 2nd down, Canada ran for 17 yards and a first, then finished the drive by finding Gill behind the defense for a 45-yard strike and a 20-7 lead.

"I think we started to fall apart a little bit, mentally falling apart," said tailback Mike Woodson, who ran for 93 yards and a touchdown on the night.

Southern Vermont pulled within a touchdown on their first drive of the second half. Cole and Dunham hooked up for passes of 8, 13 and 21 yards to get into the red zone, then on 2nd-and-goal, Woodson scooted up the middle for a 7-yard touchdown.

But the momentum was short-lived as Canada drove the Beavers 82 yards in five plays, topped off by a 52-yard TD strike to Gill to up the lead to 26-13.

After another Beaver score, the Storm made it 33-19 as Cole threw his second touchdown to Dunham, a 10-yard strike with 7:50 left in the game. But a 34-yard scramble from Canada set up the Beavers for another short TD run.

"Our offense got a wake-up call and we needed it," Seaver said. "We play to every team's level, but the [Beavers] didn't outplay us. We were better, but they showed they wanted it more."

The Storm have back-to-back off weeks before heading to the road to face the Monadnock Marauders on Sept. 13, then they travel to face the Beavers on Sept. 20.

"We need to improve and we're going to do that. It's not going to happen again," Seaver said.


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