Wasps Hang On
North Clarendon, Vt. — The Mill River Union High football team still had a pulse midway through the fourth quarter, and Woodstock’s Zach Cole took it away them.
Cole’s tackle that denied the Minutemen a first down was the end any comeback chance for Mill River as Woodstock (5-0) won Saturday’s battle of unbeaten Vermont Division III teams, 42-28.
Mill River had driven to the Woodstock 33 and was trying get in the end zone for the score that would pull it within one touchdown of the Wasps.
The Minutemen (4-1) were facing a fourth down with 9 yards to go. Quarterback Mark Goyette dumped the pass off to 280-pound tight end Tyler Pitts.
Cole wrapped Pitts up before he was able to get the first down, turning the ball, and the game, over to the Wasps.
“I definitely knew the game was on the line,” Cole said. “My technique is to hit low and hit hard.
“Mill River is one heck of a team. We had to fight for everything we got and so did they.”
Woodstock got an early break and took advantage of it. The Minutemen had a fourth-and-long at the 50 on the game’s first series, gambled and lost. The Wasps drove the 50 yards in six plays, capping the march with a 16-yard scoring strike from quarterback Nehemiah Wood to Sam Zonay. Nikolai Davis kicked the point and Woodstock had the lead 5:34 into the game.
The Minutemen answered on the next series. The big play in the drive was a 46-yard run by Dan Blanchard. Goyette tossed a 5-yard touchdown pass to Pitts and Ethan Burkett’s PAT tied the score.
But the rest of the half belonged to the Wasps, allowing them to take a 35-14 lead into the locker room.
Their scores came on a 39-yard run by Tom Baumann, a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Oliver Kaija, a 45-yard TD dash by Kaija and a 25-yard touchdown throw from Wood to Tyler Anstruther. It was a highlight-reel grab by Anstruther, who leaped high and took the ball away from a defender in the end zone.
Mill River’s other first-half touchdown was a 30-yard run by Goyette.
When the teams came back onto the field, Blanchard got the Minutemen back in the game single-handedly. He intercepted Wood’s pass to give Mill River possession on its own 42. Four plays later, Blanchard ran 12 yards to a score. Burkett kicked the point and its was a two-score game again, 35-21.
Any momentum the Minutemen were feeling evaporated when Baumann’s 55-yard touchdown sprint put the Wasps ahead 42-21.
The Wasps give lessons on playing at a championship level. They are gunning for their third straight state crown and have won 24 consecutive games.
Goyette was a warrior, ripping off chunks of yardage all day. He ran one in from 12 yards out and Burkett’s extra point closed the margin to 42-28 with 9:39 still to play.
All of the Woodstock ball carriers were effective. They were led by Kaija with 132 yards on 16 totes and Baummann with 117 yards on eight carries.