Top-seeded Hartford cruises past Middlebury

Top-seeded Hartford cruises past Middlebury

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Top-seeded Hartford cruises past Middlebury

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HARTFORD

A Middlebury team that was on a roll ran into what head coach Dennis Smith called “a steamroller” Friday night.

Of course, he was talking about the Hartford Hurricanes, who flattened Middlebury 34-0 in a Division I high school football semifinal to extend the program’s winning streak to 25 games.

The top-seeded Hurricanes (10-0) will vie for their third straight championship and fifth crown in six years when they face second-seeded BFA-St. Albans on Nov. 10 at South Burlington High School.

Hartford beat BFA 33-7 at home during the second game of the regular season in a rematch of the 2010 championship game.

There was little doubt Friday, not with the Hurricanes creating three Middlebury turnovers in the first half and senior running back Josh Claflin rushing for 93 yards and all four of his touchdowns before intermission to provide a 28-0 lead.

“Our offense helps us out, but our defense is the main thing. It showed today,” said Claflin, who had a first-half interception as a defensive back. “We got that fumble early, we got the interception. That’s how you get momentum in any game. We got the turnovers and we capitalized.”

Middlebury’s turnovers gave Hartford a short field much of the evening.

The Hurricanes gained 245 yards on the ground and another 31 in the air. The Tigers (6-4) were held to 71 yards.

Fifth-seeded Middlebury had been on fire with impressive wins over Colchester and Champlain Valley to cap the regular season, followed by a rout of Rutland last week in the quarterfinals.

Hartford served as an extinguisher against a Tigers team missing four guys with injuries, including productive fullback Jakob Trautwein.

“They keep pounding you and coming at you,” Smith said about Hartford, “and we didn’t have anything left in the tank.”

The first three series set the tone for the lopsided affair. After Taylor Potter returned the opening kick-off 32 yards, Hartford went 46 yards on eight plays for a 7-0 lead. On Middlebury’s third play from scrimmage, quarterback Tyler Provencher was stripped, with the Hurricanes quickly scoring for a 14-0 lead.

“We made some key mistakes,” Smith said. “You do that against these guys, you pay for it.”

Potter added a 12-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter for the Hurricanes, who were coming off a 54-20 quarterfinal win over South Burlington.

Friday’s game was a rematch of last year’s title game at Castleton State College, in which Hartford surged to a 42-6 win over Middlebury.

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