Perfection extended: Windsor football claims second straight undefeated crown

  • Windsor football Coach Greg Balch congratulates his team after their 35-21 win over BFA-Fairfax in the VPA Div. III football championship in Rutland, Vt., on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Valley News photographs — James M. Patterson

  • Travis McAllister, of Windsor, continues to move the ball downfield under the weight of Joseph Brock, of BFA-Fairfax, during the Yellowjackets' 35-21 VPA Div. III football championship win in Rutland, Vt., on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to James M. Patterson

  • Steve Hurlburt cheers on the Windsor football team during their VPA Div. III football championship with BFA-Fairfax in Rutland, Vt., on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. Hurlburt's nephew, Morgan Johnson, plays on the team. Windsor won 35-21. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to valley news — James M. Patterson

  • Windsor football teammates Logan Worrall, left, and Travis McAllister, right, celebrate their 35-21 VPA Div. III football championship win over BFA-Fairfax in Rutland, Vt., on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to James M. Patterson

Valley News Correspondent
Published: 11/12/2022 9:40:59 PM
Modified: 11/12/2022 11:06:39 PM

RUTLAND — In a rematch of last year’s VPA Division III title game, the Windsor Yellowjackets, propelled by two forced fumbles in the fourth quarter, defeated BFA-Fairfax/Lamoille, 35-21, on Saturday afternoon at Rutland High’s Alumni Field to claim back-to-back state titles.

The game was a battle of the trenches between two teams dedicated to running the football. The Jacks totaled 281 yards on the ground, and the Bullets finished with 186 yards rushing.

Jacks quarterback Maison Fortin attempted just four passes; BFA-Fairfax didn’t throw at all.

Despite the double-digit margin of victory, the game was much closer throughout, tied 13-13 at the 6:26 mark of the third quarter. But two fourth-quarter BFA fumbles turned a tight championship game into a rout and secured a second straight title for the Jacks.

The Bullets grabbed the game’s first lead halfway through the first quarter after a nine-play, 41-yard drive that was all power runs up the gut of the Jacks defense. Bullets quarterback Cooper Harvey capped off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run on a keeper up the middle.

The subsequent Jacks possession started strong as running back Logan Worrall gashed through the Bullets’ defensive front for 11 yards and a first down. But a subsequent false start penalty and a huge fourth down stop on a Worrall carry through the middle gave the ball, and seemingly the momentum, to BFA-Fairfax with 10 minutes left in the second quarter.

But the Jacks’ defense defense tightened up, forcing a BFA punt after stuffing three straight runs. Worrall, fellow senior running back Travis McAllister and Fortin then pushed the Jacks 50 yards downfield and into the Bullets’ red zone on a series of power, off-tackle and QB keeper rushes before Worrall capped the drive off with a crunching 2-yard TD run.

BFA-Fairfax’s response? More power running into the teeth of the Windsor defense, as Harvey ran three straight times on keepers and somehow worked his way to back-to-back first downs before a 15-yard facemask penalty against Windsor pushed the Bullets deep into their opponent’s side of the field.

A holding penalty would make the drive come screeching to a halt, and on a fourth-and-9 run, Harvey fumbled for the game’s first turnover.

After playing an almostpenalty-free game in their semifinal victory over Mount Abraham last week, the Jacks were plagued with five flags over the first three quarters Saturday afternoon. That included a holding call on Windsor’s next drive that erased a highlight 40-yard, multiple-tackle-breaking TD run by McAllister.

Though the Jacks would score on the drive anyway, thanks to an 18-yard outside QB keeper TD from Fortin that saw the senior QB stutter-step his way past a Bullets cornerback and into the end zone, Windsor coach Greg Balch said the penalties his team incurred “really slowed” them down in the first half.

“(Those penalties) were tough ones,” Balch said. “Even on our first drive, we had a nice play get called back for a hold. It (created) a tough situation.”

Holding a 13-7 lead, Windsor received the ball to start the third quarter and looked to continue pounding the rock.

A 14-play drive, highlighted by a double-reverse handoff to wide receiver Brody Osgood that netted the Jacks 18 yards, produced a second-and-goal at the BFA-Fairfax 8. A TD would haveput them up two scores halfway through the third.

But then, disaster: Fortin rolled out to his right, looking to find Rodger Petermann, who was running an in route across the end zone. Fortin spun out of one tackle but was swallowed whole by a gaggle of Bullets defenders. BFA-Fairfax outside linebacker Shaun Gibson stripped the ball from Fortin, recovered it and ran it back 90 yards for a touchdown that tied the game up and sent the BFA-Fairfax crowd into a giddy hysteria.

Balch wasn’t sure what caused Fortin to fumble.

“I think he was trying to throw it as he got hit,” Balch said. “I don’t know if he threw it or if the ball sort of just bounced out before he could, but I know it tied the game up.”

The Jacks responded to the potential game-changing play with a championship-winning TD drive. Starting at their own 21 with 6:18 left in the third, the Jacks capped off a 13-play march that featured two third-down conversions and one pivotal conversion on fourth down with an 11-yard rushing TD from Worrall, his second of the night for a 21-13 lead.

The Bullets fumbled on the second play of the next drive, forcing their defense back out onto the field shortly after having played almost the entire third quarter.

With only a short field at their backs, the BFA defense faltered on a third-and-4, allowing Jacks running back Gavin Martin to break through for a critical 15 yards. He’d punch in a four-yard rushing score on the next play for a 28-13 Windsor lead with 9 minutes left in the game.

Three plays into BFA-Fairfax’s next drive, Harvey lost another fumble, giving Windsor another short field to try to score on. An unnecessary roughness penalty against the Bullets helped push Windsor to the goal line, where Worrall punched in his third TD for the day which gave Windsor a 35-13 lead halfway through the fourth.

Worrall finished the game with 21 carries for 125 yards and three TDs and one reception for 10 yards, earning MVP honors.

Balch said his team expected and prepared for BFA-Fairfax to have a tough running game that would aim to “smack” his defense. The Jacks planned to run outside the edges and pass more than they did, he said, but stuck with running off-tackle because of the success they had doing it.

Having patience was a big reason the team won, but Balch also praised the leadership and toughness seniors like Fortin, McAllister, and Worrall brought to the game. He said “nobody panicked” after the Bullets’ scoop-and-score tied the game up in the second half.

“They’ve been in tough games since peewee football,” he said. “Not one of them was going to wilt, and I think all the other players on the team fed off that. And that was huge.”

Ray Couture can be reached at

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