Hurricanes Tame the Cougars
Canes hold on to defeat Mount Mansfield
By John Seaver
The Hurricanes opened up an 18-0 lead through three quarters and held off a furious Mount Mansfield comeback to beat the Cougars 18-14 in front of a large crowd on senior night. Hartford scored quickly after Alex Bushway recovered a fumble on MMU's opening snap at the Cougar 18. 4 plays later, Zach Burek rumbled in from 5 yards out to make it 6-0. Both defenses played very well as the teams traded punts and turn overs on downs. Hartford's Reece Thompson had an interception to go along with several tackles while the defensive line plugged up the middle.
The Canes struck again late in the half after a long run by Burek set the Canes up at the MMU 23 with :22 ticks on the clock. Two plays later and with just :01 on the clock, QB Cole Jasmin hit Burek on a 5 yard TD to give Hartford a 12-0 lead at the half.
Next man up is a term football coaches use often to motivate their team when a key player gets hurt. On this night, Hartford's Dylan Tucker was forced into action with senior captain Nick Porter on the sidelines in street clothes nursing an injury. And man did Tucker ever step up.
Tucker, a back up RB and starting DB this season, got the call to replace Porter on offense and ran the ball hard all game. He also played his best defensive game of the year knocking down several passes and almost intercepting back to back Carlson passes in the 3rd quarter.
Coach Matt Trombly after the game "It was a game he (Tucker) knew he had to step up, on both sides of the ball. He did everything that was asked of him. He ran hard and made some key plays on defense. I couldn't be more proud of him."
Hartford looked to be in control after Burek scored his 3rd TD of the game late in the 3rd quarter to give the Canes an 18-0 lead. The Canes, playing without kicker Kobe Peach were forced to go for two after each score and failed on all 3 attempts. But as the game wore on, it didn't appear that it was going to matter as MMU was having a hard time sustaining any drive against the stout Hartford defense.
That all changed five minutes into the 4th quarter when a hike on 4th down sailed over punter Nick Cameron's head and was recovered in the end zone for a Cougar TD. MMU then recovered an onside kick and Asa Carlson hit Harrison Leombruno-Nicholson for a touchdown to cut the Hartford lead to 18-14 with just over 4 minutes to play.
The Canes were unable to get a first down and were forced to punt it back to the Cougars with just over 3 minutes to play. That's when Dylan Tucker made the play of the game. After coming so close several times earlier in the game, Tucker finally got his pick stepping in front of a Cougar receiver and intercepting Carlson to all but ice the game.
Hartford's defense played exceptionally well versus one of the better offenses in the state. "I would put our front 7 against any in the state." Defensive Coordinator Marc Bucklin said. "Our secondary is getting better every week."
The win improves Hartford's record to 5-2 and puts them in good position to snag a top 4 seed and a first round home playoff game two weeks from tonight. MMU is also 5-2 after the loss, their first since dropping the opener to Rice. Hartford travels to Essex to finish their regular season next week.
Category 5 Hurricane Player of the game: RB/DB Dylan Tucker. The senior stepped into the role as one of the three featured backs next to Burek and Thompson with Porter sidelined and played his best game of the year. Running well and defending the pass, he had the play of the game with the late INT to seal the win.
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