Storm rolls past Gamblers at MAU

BENNINGTON — The Connecticut Gamblers, winless coming into Saturday night's matchup with the Southern Vermont Storm, tried a bit of trickery on the opening kickoff with an onsides.

It didn't work.

The Storm recovered and scored on the opening drive, and they continued to score throughout, taking a 34-0 lead at the half en route to a 48-14 rout in front of a capacity crowd at Mount Anthony Union High School's Spinelli Field.

"It was fun and we did our job," co-captain John Cross said. "It just sets up momentum for later in the game when you jump out to an early lead. We were able to get a lot of the players in the roster in."

After recovering the kick, it only took two plays to find the end zone as David Lawrence bounced off three defenders on his way to a 32-yard touchdown run.

On the Gamblers' second possession, they passed seven straight times. The seventh pass from Gambler quarterback John Sanders found a receiver but Storm safety Perry Snyder forced a fumble that was returned to midfield. Two offensive plays later, the Storm were back in the end zone, a 50-yard jaunt from leading rusher Mike Woodson to make it 14-0 only a few minutes in.

Finding themselves in an early hole, the Gamblers continued to stay aggressive through the air. On their first play they tried attacking Nate Sweet in the secondary. The risk didn't pay off as Sweet secured his first of two interceptions, giving the Storm the ball at their own 43-yard line.

Before practice on Thursday, head coach Guy Changa mentioned that the offense would have some new wrinkles to help keep defenses guessing. With some breathing room, the offense decided to introduce one.

On an option to the right, quarterback Mike Stephens faked out a defender, giving him room to break a 50-yard run to the Gamblers' nine-yard line. Two plays later Michael Hom busted through the defense on his way to a two-yard touchdown run and a 21-0 lead with four minutes left in the opening quarter.

With the early advantage, the Storm rotated in players throughout.

"It is nice to see our second stringers come in and do their job," Cross said. "It is really exciting to see them execute. Hopefully we stay healthy, but it is nice to see that we have other guys that can come in and fulfill their role."

The second quarter was more of the same for the Storm.

After the Gamblers turned the ball over on downs to start the second quarter, quarterback Will Cole hit Mike Waters on the outside. Waters flew toward the endzone and with one guy to beat, Marcus Anderson made a key block as Waters finished off a 40-yard touchdown for a 27-0 lead.

"I knew [Marcus] would get him for me," said Waters. "I've been playing football with him since pee-wee football. When I saw him I was pretty confident that I was going to break it. It's a good time and everyone is happy [when the offense is breaking big plays]."

With three minutes left in the first half, Nick Bennett jumped an out-route and returned a Gambler pass 15 yards for a pick-six. Cole added the extra point, giving the Storm a 34-0 lead at the half.

The Gamblers got on the board early in the second half, but the Storm answered immediately as Mike Stephens hooked up with Anderson for a touchdown of his own and the teams traded touchdowns in the fourth, ending the game at 48-14.

"I think our guys played with a chip on their shoulder," Guy Change said. "These guys wanted to make a statement tonight, especially playing in front of our home crowd. It was important to us to come out and play well. Our guys were a little over-aggressive at times [as they had a handful of penalties], but to be honest I think that carried over from a strong week at practice. These guys wanted to come out and prove a point after struggling at times last week."

The Storm are 6-1 overall and right now the top seed in the Maritime Conference. They are off for the next two weeks before finishing the regular season in New Haven, Conn., on Sept. 16 against the Venom.


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