Three games into the season, three telling stats have emerged with the Champlain Valley Union High School football team:
* The Redhawks have scored 0 points in the first quarter.
* They have never led at halftime.
* And they have yet to lose.
On Saturday, it was CVU’s one-two punch of running back Jason Cora and game-breaking quarterback Steele DuBrul that teamed with a dominant defensive performance in a 25-8 victory over Burlington.
The teams combined for as many first downs as three-and-outs — eight — in the first half, but the Redhawks held Burlington (1-2) without a first down after the break and forced a pair of safeties to stay unbeaten and improve to 3-0.
“I just think it takes us a while to get on track offensively, get a feel for it,” CVU coach Jim Provost said. “The problem with that formula is against some teams you can fall behind by three touchdowns. If it’s 0-0, you can be OK, but if you fall behind you’re in trouble.”
Instead, it was DuBrul who scored first to give the Redhawks the jolt they needed.
Four plays into the second half, the 6-foot-3 senior called his own number on a read-option play to the left side, turned the corner and raced 39 yards to pay dirt for CVU to stake a 7-0 lead. He finished the game with 20 carries for 99 yards and 37 more yards in the air (1-for-4 passing).
“That’s kind of what he does,” Provost said. “Things kind of look blah, blah, blah, and then he runs for six (points).”
Three series later, the Seahorses were forced to punt from their own 6-yard line, but CVU blocked the kick out the back of the end zone for the first safety.
And the Redhawks doubled down with a touchdown on the ensuing 11-play drive.
After converting fourth-and-3 at the 22 with an 18-yard burst through the right side of the line, Cora plunged in from four yards out. The senior bowled over one defender and stretched to get the ball across the goal line. The extra point made it 16-0 with 11:33 left in the fourth quarter.
Three minutes later Pierce Farrington notched a sack in the end zone for the other CVU safety.
“It was a good, well-played football game and as they made more plays we made less and less,” said Burlington coach Brennan Carney. “That’s the issue we had.”
Cora was a workhorse for the second week in a row, finishing with 28 carries for 124 yards.
“I’d have to say right now he’s got to be our most valuable player because we can’t do without him on offense or defense,” Provost said.
Burlington defensive back Jack Breen gave his team new life, though, returning an interception 58 yards for a touchdown on the CVU drive following the second safety. His pick-6 made it an 18-8 contest.
“A great defensive play got us right back in the game but we needed to do more on offense,” Carney said.
DuBrul sealed the win with 1:55 left. From a bunched formation with fourth-and-inches to go at the Burlington 25, the signal-caller broke left, won the edge again and beat the defense to the corner of the end zone.
Max Moreau rushed for 46 yards on six carries to lead the Seahorses, while Montell Kirkland toted the ball 12 times for 32 yards.
Champlain Valley held the Seahorses to negative yardage after halftime, earning their third win without starting quarterback Bennett Cazayoux, the Redhawks’ passing specialist who rounds out their two-pronged attack with DuBrul.
“We’re still 3-0 but we feel we’re nowhere near our potential yet,” Provost said.