Furious comeback falls short for Hurricanes in D-I title game 

As Burr & Burton’s players rush the field to celebrate their Division I state championship win with their fans and the head referee departs in Rutland, Vt., on Nov. 11, 2023, Hartford’s Adam Wheatley (43) and Andrew Keenan react to the loss that ended their undefeated season. The Hurricanes rallied from behind to score 22 fourth-quarter points, tying the game but fell short to the Bulldogs, 35-28. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

As Burr & Burton’s players rush the field to celebrate their Division I state championship win with their fans and the head referee departs in Rutland, Vt., on Nov. 11, 2023, Hartford’s Adam Wheatley (43) and Andrew Keenan react to the loss that ended their undefeated season. The Hurricanes rallied from behind to score 22 fourth-quarter points, tying the game but fell short to the Bulldogs, 35-28. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news photographs — Geoff Hansen

Hartford’s Brody Tyburski blows by a Burr & Burton defender to score with 8:14 remaining in their Division I state championship game in Rutland, Vt., on Nov. 11, 2023. The Hurricanes rallied to score 22 fourth-quarter points, tying the game but falling short to the Bulldogs, 35-28. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Hartford’s Brody Tyburski blows by a Burr & Burton defender to score with 8:14 remaining in their Division I state championship game in Rutland, Vt., on Nov. 11, 2023. The Hurricanes rallied to score 22 fourth-quarter points, tying the game but falling short to the Bulldogs, 35-28. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

About a third of the way into the fourth quarter, Hartford quarterback Brayden Trombly gets to work as the team climbs back from a 28-6 deficit to tie the game at 28-28 against Burr & Burton in the Division I state championship in Rutland, Vt., on Nov. 11, 2023. The Bulldogs scored a late touchdown to pull ahead and win, 35-28. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

About a third of the way into the fourth quarter, Hartford quarterback Brayden Trombly gets to work as the team climbs back from a 28-6 deficit to tie the game at 28-28 against Burr & Burton in the Division I state championship in Rutland, Vt., on Nov. 11, 2023. The Bulldogs scored a late touchdown to pull ahead and win, 35-28. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

Hartford’s Ezra Mock, left, breaks up an end zone reception by Burr & Burton’s Seb Dostal but is flagged for pass interference during the Division I championship in Rutland, Vt., on Nov. 11, 2023. The Hurricane’s undefeated season ended with a 35-28 loss to the Bulldogs. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Hartford’s Ezra Mock, left, breaks up an end zone reception by Burr & Burton’s Seb Dostal but is flagged for pass interference during the Division I championship in Rutland, Vt., on Nov. 11, 2023. The Hurricane’s undefeated season ended with a 35-28 loss to the Bulldogs. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

As Burr & Burton celebrates their Division I state championship victory across the field, Hartford quarterback Brayden Trombly holds the runner-up plaque and hugs his father and head coach Matt Trombly in Rutland, Vt., on Nov. 11, 2023. The senior co-captain is three-year starter on the team, who lost 35-28 in the final. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

As Burr & Burton celebrates their Division I state championship victory across the field, Hartford quarterback Brayden Trombly holds the runner-up plaque and hugs his father and head coach Matt Trombly in Rutland, Vt., on Nov. 11, 2023. The senior co-captain is three-year starter on the team, who lost 35-28 in the final. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Geoff Hansen

By TRIS WYKES

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 11-12-2023 6:44 PM

RUTLAND, Vt. — They embraced near the 40-yard line, father and son, coach and player.

Hartford High’s Brayden Trombly, a senior quarterback mature beyond his years, was poised while sobbing. Hurricanes boss Matt Trombly consoled him, holding his boy while they stood pressed together under glaring illumination at Rutland High’s Alumni Field.

Completed only minutes before was a wild, seesaw battle against Burr & Burton that saw the second-seeded Bulldogs upend the top-seeded Hurricanes, 35-28. BBA star quarterback Jack McCory faked a plunge into the line before stepping back and lofting a 6-yard jump pass to Carter Cave for the winning points with two minutes remaining.

“I knew it was going to be a high-scoring game and that we were going to have to answer their big plays,” said Matt Trombly, whose team beat the Bulldogs during the regular season and finished 10-1. “I think we did, but we just ran out of time.”

Neither time nor anything else seemed to be on Hartford’s side as its players trudged to the locker room at halftime. The Hurricanes trailed, 14-0, and had gained all 89 of their offensive yards on the ground. The air attack consisted of three Brayden Trombly incompletions.

“We were challenged in the locker room to come back out and show who we were as a team,” said Brayden Trombly, who’d been quietly nursing a broken finger on his throwing hand for the past two weeks.

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“It was put up or shut up time, so we had to go out and huck the ball around a little. I guess we should have been doing that from the beginning.”

Hartford’s two first-half drives had ended with turnovers on downs in the red zone, but it received the second-half kickoff and marched 74 yards in 10 plays. The last was Nick Daniels’ 11-yard touchdown run. Graham Thompson’s extra-point attempt was partially blocked and short, leaving the score 14-6.

McCoy ran for a 1-yard touchdown five minutes later. Hartford turned the ball over on downs during its next possession and the Bulldogs scored again, this time on a McCoy pass to Zak Chani and past limping cornerback Ezra Mock. The senior left the game in obvious pain and did not return.

“Ezra tore his calf two weeks ago and he’s been rehabbing and trying to get back out,” Brayden Trombly said of the two-way starter. “He gave us everything he could and I’m super proud of him.”

Down, 28-6, with 9 minutes and 35 seconds remaining, Hartford somehow came alive. Trombly threw six consecutive passes, the last a 48-yard touchdown to Evan Lynds on a post pattern. The quarterback ran for a two-point conversion and then executed a successful onsides kick.

On the next snap, Trombly found childhood friend Brody Tyburski with a pass in the right flat. McCoy charged, intent on a big hit, but missed and Tyburski sprinted 50 yards up the sideline to the end zone.

Thompson’s low extra-point try thudded into the line, but Hartford had scored 14 points in 12 seconds and now trailed, 28-20.

Trombly booted another onsides attempt, this one recovered by BBA. The Bulldogs (10-1) went three-and-out, but Cave unleashed an epic, 51-yard punt that pinned the Hurricanes at their 1-yard line with seven minutes to go.

Five plays later, the score was 28-28. Trombly hit Tyburski over the middle and the hulking senior raced for a 95-yard touchdown. Trombly threw to Daniels for the conversion and the tie.

“Brayden and Brody have a special connection with things you can’t teach or coach,” Matt Trombly said of two players likely to compete at the NCAA Division III level next fall. “There’s nothing left in their tank and that’s all we can ask.”

Burr & Burton received a conventional kickoff at its 34-yard line and drove for the winning points in five plays. Chani pulled the ball away from freshman cornerback Rex Banning for a 52-yard catch that led to McCoy’s deciding pass to Cave.

Hartford’s last two, desperate possessions ended with a lost fumble and an intercepted pass. The Hurricanes crumpled to the turf or stood in dejection as the Bulldogs celebrated their first title in four years and denied their opponents their first crown since 2016.

“They played a little bit better than we did up front and allowed McCoy to get yardage,” Matt Trombly said of a player who rushed 31 times for 125 yards and a touchdown. “When you’re gaining four and five yards a whack, that’s tough to stop.

“But I couldn’t be more proud of my guys and my message to them was that one game doesn’t define you as a team.”

Brayden Trombly ran 24 times for 97 yards and completed 6 of 17 passes for 215 yards and touchdowns on three consecutive, fourth-quarter throws. He also had a pass intercepted.

Daniels carried 10 times for 27 yards and a touchdown and Tyburski carried five times for 12 yards and caught three passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns. Burr & Burton was penalized six times for 70 yards, keeping several Hartford scoring drives alive.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.