Sunny
58°
Sunny
Hi 57° | Lo 36°

Hurricanes Rule Route 4

Hartford Uses Ground Game to Run Over Division I Rival

  • Nolan Viens of Hartford reins in Wyatt Socinski of Rutland during Hartford's 49 - 14 win in White River Junction Friday, October 18, 2013.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Nolan Viens of Hartford reins in Wyatt Socinski of Rutland during Hartford's 49 - 14 win in White River Junction Friday, October 18, 2013.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dylan Rice of Hartford dives to recover a fumbled hand-off with David Kirby close on behind during Hartford's 49 - 14 win in White River Junction Friday, October 18, 2013.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Dylan Rice of Hartford dives to recover a fumbled hand-off with David Kirby close on behind during Hartford's 49 - 14 win in White River Junction Friday, October 18, 2013.
    (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Nolan Viens of Hartford reins in Wyatt Socinski of Rutland during Hartford's 49 - 14 win in White River Junction Friday, October 18, 2013.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)
  • Dylan Rice of Hartford dives to recover a fumbled hand-off with David Kirby close on behind during Hartford's 49 - 14 win in White River Junction Friday, October 18, 2013.<br/>(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

White River Junction — Perhaps a difficult loss was just what the Hartford High football team needed.

Route 4 rival Rutland was the latest victim of a revitalized Hurricanes’ team as Hartford won 49-14 on senior night in the regular season finale Friday.

It was a season-high in points for the Canes (5-3; 5-2 league), who had three running backs eclipse the 100-yard mark and outscored the Raiders (4-3) 28-0 in the second half.

Hartford hoped it clinched a first-round home game in the upcoming Vermont Division I playoffs. According to a Canes assistant coach, they secured the No. 4 seed and a home game with Friday night’s win. They entered the game ranked sixth and Rutland fifth.

Wether it plays home or away next week, Hartford appears to be playing its best football at the right time.

After a mistake-ridden 19-18 loss at St. Johnsbury two weeks ago, the Hurricanes have responded with their two highest-scoring games of the season by outscoring Mount Mansfield and Rutland a combined 93-28.

“That was the worst game we’ve had in a long time, mentally and fundamentally,” Hartford coach said Mike Stone of the setback in St. J. “We’re a different team now than we were two weeks ago. We’re playing some pretty good football.”

Patrick Libuda ran for 158 yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries; fellow senior Nolan Viens broke for a 53-yard gain as part of a 103-yard night and sophomore fullback John Bielecki had his first 100-yard game, rumbling for 106 on 16 runs.

Rutland quarterback Nick Boles completed 12-of-27 passes for 224 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Nick Terino had the play of the game, returning a kickoff 87 yards for a score immediately after Rutland took advantage of a roughing-the-passer penalty and scored to make it 14-7.

Terino caught the ball on the right side of the field and picked up a great block while cutting to the left and scampering down the sideline for the score to make it 21-7 with 1 minute, 59 seconds left in the second quarter.

“I knew he was going to break that one. As soon as he got down the sideline, he was gone,” Viens said. “That was huge because (Rutland) just scored and we were kind of down about that. Then (Terino) goes flying down the field and we get back on track.”

Hartford dominated the middle of the field on both sides of the ball, with most of its lengthy running plays coming right up the gut. The Canes also pressured Boles in the second half, with end Stephen Burnham sacking him on consecutive plays to start the third quarter as Hartford forced a pair of three-and-outs and an interception on the first three Rutland drives after halftime.

“The pass rush was big,” Stone said. “Guys were getting to the quarterback and that’s what we needed to do.”

Libuda ran for 73 yards and a pair of scored on his first seven carries, with scoring runs of 13 and 12 yards to stake the Canes to a 14-0 advantage.

Boles found Wyatt Socinski for 17 yards to set up a 22-yard scoring throw to Stephen Anderson, making it 14-7, but Terino’s runback made it a two-score game again at halftime.

The Canes dominated in the second half, with touchdowns on all four possessions. Libuda ran for scores of 5 and 3 yards up the middle before Viens’ 53-yarder set up his own 5-yard rush. Hartford quarterback Greg Shinn — whose defensive interception while playing safety set up the drive — hit Bielecki for a sliding two-point conversion to make it 42-14.

The Canes capped the onslaught with an 11-play, 85-yard drive in the fourth quarter, with sophomore Walker Judd running for 2 yards before Viens ran for 14 and seven, the latter for his second score.

Terino’s fifth PAT made it 49-14.

Extra points: The Canes ran for a first down on their first eight plays from scrimmage and had 26 in the game to 10 for Rutland ... It was Hartford’s fourth straight win over Rutland, dating back to a 21-20 Raider win in 2009. ... Teighan Meeker had a pass breakup on a fourth-and-goal play for Rutland in the second quarter. ... Rutland had five fumbles, including a muffed kickoff return, but didn’t lose any of them ... Bielecki ran for a career high for the second straight week. He had 93 in Hartford’s 44-14 win over Mount Mansfield on Oct. 11.

Jared Pendak can be reached at jpendak@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.