FARMINGTON — Somewhere toward the end of the second quarter, Mt. Blue’s offense found ways of converting on third-down situations.
And then came those sustained drives that opened the door to the end zone and allowed the Cougars (1-1) to run away with a convincing 34-0 victory over Hampden Academy (0-2) in a football game Friday night at Caldwell Field.
The victory was a confidence booster for the Cougars, whose defense made the necessary adjustments to put the kibosh on the Broncos’ passing game.
“We were able to keep drives alive, and when we kept those drives alive, we became more confident,” Mt. Blue coach Nate Quirion said. “Sustaining drives was a big difference tonight from previous games.
“They ran it a little more than perhaps we thought. We really played hard, communicated and we really took a step forward and played great defense like we did today.”
Senior running back Abram Meader delivered three touchdowns in a row in the second half.
“First, I like to say how hard he has practiced,” Quirion said. “First and foremost, (Meader) has been our hardest worker and you saw this tonight.
“Certainly Matt Hyde, (quarterback) Noah Bell played great games. Colton Nason had his best game at guard. Russell Prescott was immense on the D-line. We tackled well on the secondary. Caleb Young, our outside linebacker, like Colton Nason, improved as the game went on, and those guys played great.”
The Broncos went right to the air in the first quarter and made their way to the 29-yard line, but Mt. Blue’s defense stopped Hampden there.
The game featured turnovers and a slew of penalties before the Cougars put seven points on the board with 27 seconds left in the first half. Bell threw a 56-yard pass to Young and Reed Wells split the uprights with a perfect extra-point kick.
The Cougars picked up where they left off in the first half and scored three touchdowns in the span of five minutes in the third quarter.
Junior Randy Barker bolted from the 27-yard line after Meader’s 18-yard rush and scored the Cougars’ second touchdown. The kick failed, but the Cougars were holding a 13-0 lead.
That’s when Meader started parading into the end zone in the third quarter. His first touchdown came on a 24-yard run followed by 25-yard delivery for his second. Meader even scored the two-point conversion. But he wasn’t through. He scored his third touchdown on a 60-yard dash, with Wells splitting the uprights again.
For the evening, the Cougars rushed the ball 37 times for 319 yards.
But first-year Hampden Academy coach Shane Rogers, who doesn’t make excuses, is also trying to bring along a green team to fruition.
“We are such a young football team,” Rogers said. “We have got to go through some bumps and bruises. I’ve got 11 guys who didn’t play football last year.
“So we are not making any excuses, but we just have to get better. We can see the potential, but that is why the coaching staff is so disappointed … We have to learn how to close and make things happen.”
This is a close-up of a football.