NEWPORT-The North Country Falcons got down by ten points in the first half before rallying for a 28-26 decision over Fair Haven Friday night.
The Falcons senior power back Adam Pothier carried two Slater defenders on his back into the end zone with under five minutes remaining to clinch the win. The Falcons, now 3-0 on the season, showed great resilience and a never say die spirit to complete the comeback.
The contest started on a bad omen early as the Falcons promptly fumbled their first play from scrimmage on their own 35.
Three plays later the high powered spread offense of Fair Haven, using a four receiver set on most downs, quickly moved down to the two yard line. Quarterback Robert Colouttiâ€™s slant pass to Austin Amery for 23 yards was the big play.
With the Falcon Defense spread wide, Coloutti ran the quarterback option up the gut for a quick touchdown.
North Country answered in a big way driving the ball 65 yards in nine plays. Senior quarterback Tre Sanville did most of the damage, running out of the option. He added a 20 yard strike to Jason Hatin and then stayed exclusively on the ground. Sanville got great blocking up front as Bubba Collins and Jason Webster blasted big holes in the Slater interior line.
NC continued to ride the back of their QB and he banged in for the equalizer from a yard out. A quick pass from Sanville to Hatin converted the two for an 8-6 Falcon lead after one quarter.
The Slaters continued to attack. Their signal caller took the big hits from NCU and kept on ticking. He hit Dakota Euber for 15 and then Amery picked up twelve on the draw play. Coloutti came thru again as he fired a 14 yard strike to Derick Hernandez for a 12-8 FH margin. The 2 pt. run failed as Collins bulldogged Coloutti who tried to run it in but with 11:24 left in the first half the Slaters had the momentum once more.
North Country was stopped on downs after Nick LeClair and Sanville rolled up a pair of first downs. A holding penalty cost North Country as a third and one turned to a third and fifteen,
The Slaters went back to an aerial attack once more. Another penalty helped FH immensely as a late hit gave Fair Haven new life.
Robert Coloutti is not the type of thrower that you want to give too many extra chances to, as he cashed in again. He rolled out to his right and rifled a 35 yard bullet to Euber and suddenly it was 18-8. Coloutti added the conversion for two making it 20-8 visitors. The Fair Haven quarterback was having his way with the NCU defense at this point.
The Slaterâ€™s kept the pressure on, getting an onside kick to work to perfection fooling NCU.
The Falcon defense dug in. Jason Hatin and Jacob Wooten made big hits. That got the ball back to the offense. It led to a second and eight. Sanville went back, surveyed the field, and spotted Hatin creating separation from his man at the 30. Sanville hit Hatin in stride with the long ball and Hatin rumbled into the end zone with a great cutback at the twenty competing a 50 yard play and getting the Falcons back in it at 20-12. The conversion failed and the half was winding down.
After an exchange of punts FH was left with 8 seconds to go from their own 27. The ever dangerous Coloutti unloaded what everyone at Veterans Field expected, a bomb. He let it fly hitting Euber at the thirty and with the jets turned on, the speedy receiver sprinted into the right half of the end zone for a demoralizing 73 yd. touchdown on the halfâ€™s last play. The Falcons stopped the pass for two but after regaining the momentum it was lost as FH walked off with a 26-16 lead at intermission.
Fair Haven received the second half kick and drove to the Falcon 42, facing third and ten. Coloutti was flushed out of the pocket by Adam Fortin and fired the ball downfield where Nick LeClair picked it off. He went down the right sideline for 64 yards and almost broke it for the distance before he was bumped out of bounds.
North Country, sensing they might wear the Slaters down, used Hatin outside and Adam Pothier inside to keep Fair Haven off balance. Nick LeClair continued to make positive yardage and NCU drove on.
Finally Tre Sanville barreled over the goal line from the four with 38 seconds left in the frame. Sanville hunkered down behind Ben Bonneau and Collins and hit paydirt bringing the contest ever closer at 26-22 FH.
North Country needed a stop and a long drive and thatâ€™s exactly what they got. With Adam Pothier running like a man possessed, the Falcons chiseled out big chucks of yardage. The series reached itsâ€™ climax when Pothier carried two Fair Haven defenders on his back into the end zone putting North Country back on top for the first time since early in the contest at 28-26, much to the delight of a packed house and an emotional Falcon sideline. The run for two failed and with a lot of time on the clock the Slaters had time,and certainly the ability to strike again. The Falcon offense had done their job burning off over seven minutes on the game clock to get the lead back.
Fair Haven quickly racked up three first downs before the Falcons came up big with a stop on Colouttiâ€™s fourth down quarterback sneak. That left 2;25 on the game clock and the Falcons still clinging to a two point lead.
Fair Haven stood its ground forcing a punting situation. Falcon punter Lance Buffi, who had kicked the ball well all evening, made a great one handed catch of a high snap. He caught it and then crushed a 47 yard punt out of harmâ€™s way under the most severe pressure. FH fumbled the punt but recovered it themselves.
The Slaters gobbled up yardage again but were stopped by Connor Graham and then Logan Spates, as both defenders got a piece of the ball. They also had to deal with tall Adam Fortin who knocked down two passes on the last drive sequence.
It came down to one last play with Coloutti looking for Hernandez in the back of the end zone. The quarterback found him but just beyond the rectangle out of the end zone and the Falcons had won a big one 28-26.
Head Coach Bob Davis said, â€śAt halftime we talked about playing the football we are capable of. We had mental errors on the last touchdown and offside play. Iâ€™m proud of my team because we did what we needed to do in tough situations.â€ť
It was an emotional postgame for NCU as team leaders gathered and spoke their mind. Bubba Collins said, â€ťWe lost games like this last year but this year we won it and we will always remember this game.â€ť
Tre Sanville,â€ťWe had FH key on myself and Nick and in the second half we got Pothier going.â€ť Sanville scored twice and hit Hatin with a 50 yard bomb. He liked the long ball call. â€śCoach made the call and Hatin was open and I just threw it to him. It worked great. We really felt we were beating them down some and that we would have more stamina at the end. I made some mistakes, but my teammates picked me up. We owe everything to our line, they are great. Our team is a great team, I donâ€™t want to be cocky but you couldnâ€™t ask for a better team.â€ť
The Falcons got 274 yards rushing on 56 carries while adding 61 yards thru the air. They racked up 20 first downs to Fair havenâ€™s 17. The Slaterâ€™s hit 20 of 30 passes for 259 yards.
North Country, now 3-0 returns to action next Saturday traveling to South Burlington to take on defending state champion Rice with a 1 pm kickoff.