NEWPORT-The North Country Falcons scored on every possession series as they amassed eight touchdowns in an impressive display of offensive dominance producing 62 total points. Senior tailback Nick LeClair had the biggest night of all as he piled up 172 yards on the ground including hitting paydirt four times in the contest as NCU pile drived the visiting Lyndon Institute Vikings 62-22.
On a night that saw the season’s biggest crowd with over 1250 tickets sold among the 1400 plus that were in the house. With a gleaming new track surrounded by new fencing Falcon Field looked its best as the huge crowd entered thru three gate lines.
The Falcons looked their best as well as they shook off an early touchdown return of 84 yards by Li’s Zach Weisinger. The fans had barely taken a look at their program before the Vikings had broken on top.
North Country sent a firm message and was all business with their first drive going 67 yards in five plays highlighted by LeClair’s sweep right that he turned upfield for a 49 TD yard run in front of the Viking bench down the sideline. Falcon QB Tre Sanville promptly fired a bullet to LeClair for the two and NCU would never trail again leading 8-6.
The Falcon defense, one of the hardest hitting units around, got the ball back to the offense. Interior lineman Bubba Collins and 6’3 Adam Fortin combined to shut down LI’s high stepping fullback Craig St.Hilare. If it wasn’t a lineman like Jason Webster, Lance Buffi or Barry Shelton, it was a linebacker like Jacob Wooten, Riley Simoneau or Nate Morin plugging gaps to stop the run. From there opposing offenses have to deal with Logan Spates, a 150 pounder at defensive back that packs a wallop.
That defensive stand prompted another quick return for the NC offense. LeClair broke loose for a four yarder up the gut to cap off the drive and NCU led after an Adam Pothier conversion 16-6 after one quarter complete.
The beat carried on in the second stanza for the Falcons. LeClair made it a hat trick as he weaved his way thru the interior after crushing blocks by Ben Bonneau and that man, Bubba Collins again. LeClair turned it up to another gear and then shifted again as he flew for a 37 yard touchdown jaunt. Sanville unloaded a fast ball to Jason Hatin on the two point conversion for a 24-6 advantage.
The Vikings, who came into the contest 3-1 answered as they put together a nine play drive ending with sophomore quarterback Jason Shufelt picking his way in from six yards out. St. Hilare banged into the rectangle for two points and LI had drawn to within 24-14.
The prettiest play of the evening came on the next series. Sanville threw back to Jason Hatin who lofted a perfect spiral to a wide open Jacob Buckles who gathered in the pigskin via the option pass for a 34 yard touchdown. That trick play kept the Falcon faithful standing and cheering as Hatin caught another two pointer on the slate route from Sanville to make it 32-14 at the halftime horn.
All season long the Falcons have been a second half team. Call it mental toughness, call it superb conditioning, call it what you want but this team has answered the call after halftime coming out refreshed and recharged. North Country physically muscled the Vikings for a pair of scoring strikes in the third. An Adam Pothier run to cap a seven play drive from two yards out. Then Nick LeClair made it four scores on the evening with a nine yard sweep that saw him simply beat the Viking defense to the end zone pylon.
North Country continued to be very efficient on the conversion series. They got two on a speed move by LeClair and then two more on a Jacob Buckles reception from the deadly accurate Tre Sanville. After the dust had settled in the third it stood 48-14.
The Falcons played hard to the end even as Coach Bob Davis began to substitute freely. Sanville blasted in from eight yards out finishing his run as he usually does with straight ahead horsepower. And speaking of horsepower, Newport Center farmer 220 pound Adam Pothier added the two pointer and rammed in the final NCHS touchdown and his second of the night from six yards away.
The Vikings mounted one last drive as Kyle Cippolone pulled in a nice 32 yard touchdown pass from Shufelt. St. Hilare ran in the evenings final points leaving the scoreboard exhausted with a dizzying 62-22 finale.
The Vikings, now 3-2, were beaten but remained unbowed as they put up over 300 yards in the contest. St. Hilare in particular was strong as he had 119 yards of the Vikings 246 on the ground. NCUHS, now 5-0 ran for an astounding 381 yards on the ground, a statistic that speaks volumes.
North Country takes their football show on the road next week as they travel to old foe Bellows Falls for a Saturday 1 pm kickoff.