Nov. 4, 2010By Mal Boright Observer correspondent
“We are looking at it as just another game on our schedule,” Champlain Valley Union High head football coach Jim Provost said Tuesday of Saturday’s Division 2 semifinal contest against Rice Memorial High.
The starting time of the game — set to be played at the CVU gridiron foundry — has been moved back to 2 p.m. because of student testing at Rice.
The third-seeded Green Knights will hit town with an 8-1 season mark and a 6-1 record in the division. Second-seeded CVU is 7-2 overall and 7-1 in the division.
No doubt very much on the minds of the Knights is the fact that their lone loss was handed to them by the ’Hawks on Oct. 2 at Rice, a come-from-behind, 30-22 affair.
Led by rifle-armed quarterback Christian McCormick, the Green people have pretty much rolled through division foes. The wins include a 49-8 home triumph last Saturday over North Country Union that knocked the Falcons out of the playoffs.
In that session, McCormick fired four touchdown passes and ran 49 yards for another score.
“This game is going to be crowded, it is going to be muddy and it is going to be close,” Provost predicted.
If Rice was cooking last weekend, so too were the Redhawks with a solid 33-0 home win over U-32.
Launching the CVU victory ship was one of the defensive interior pachyderm people, 255-pound tackle Cameron Fitzgerald. He blocked a U-32 punt deep in Raider territory and then fell on the ball in the end zone for a 6-0 Redhawks lead with less than three minutes off the clock.
It was Fitzgerald’s third touchdown of the campaign, not bad at all for a defensive stalwart and punter.
After that, the CVU ground game took charge and controlled the clock, racking up 248 yards behind the solid work by the line, which opened sizeable holes in the U-32 defense.
“Our offensive line had a very good day,” Provost said.
Spearheading the upfront forces were Fitzgerald, Quinn Kropf, Mike Cribari, Crawford Morris and Dylan Raymond. Peter Wernhoff got in on some of the action and end Ryan Beaudry made his presence felt.
Taking advantage of the holes produced by the trench men were running back Tyler Barnes (101 yards, nine carries), quarterback Konnor Fleming (90 yards, seven keeps) and scatback J.P. Benoit (41 yards, seven lugs).
The CVU ground pounding started in earnest midway through the first period after the CVU defense, led by linebacker Eric Palmer, held on a U-32 fourth down smash into the line at the Redhawks’ 31.
On first down, Barnes bolted 46 yards to the Raiders’ 24. On the next play, Fleming ran one of his patented keepers for 17 yards to the U-32 7-yard line. Two plays later, Derek Goodwin slammed into the end zone. Tucker Kohlasch kicked the point-after and CVU led 13-0 and was on its way to a decisive victory.
A Goodwin 1-yard plunge at the end of the quarter and Benoit 25-yard dance through arms of tacklers and over bodies early in the second period, with another Kohlasch kick, gave the Redhawks a 26-0 lead at the half.
The touchdown came after another blocked U-32 punt, with Beaudry on the recovery.
Barnes got the final score on a 12-yard run in the fourth quarter and Kohlasch added the extra point.
The aerial game was used sparingly. Fleming hit 5 of 12 throws, three of the completions to Taylor “Hands” Gingras for 42 yards. Benoit grabbed a pass for 21 yards and Beaudry had a 6-yarder.
CVU – U-32, Stats
U-32 0 0 0 0 – 0
CVU 19 7 0 7 – 33
First downs 9 14
Rushing yards 118 248
Passing yards 33 66
Return yards 102 59
Comp-Att-Int 3-13-1 5-12-1
Sacked-Yards lost 1-12 2-14
Punts-Avg 6-18 2-34
Fumbles-lost 2-2 3-0
Penalties-yards 2-10 2-15