The end of Patrick Libuda’s night was much better than the start.
The Hartford running back fumbled the ball near the end of the first quarter, helping BFA-St. Albans forge a 10-0 lead, but he used the gaffe as fuel. Libuda ended up being a key contributor with 200 yards rushing and two scores as the Hurricanes blew past the Bobwhites 32-17 on Friday night, a rematch of last year’s Division I state championship game.
“Oh my goodness, that’s going to eat at me all season,” said Libuda of the fumble, forced by BFA’s Layne Rawls and turned into an 88-yard score by Joel Parady on a return down the sideline with 2:26 left in the first quarter.
“I was angry and I knew I had to pound the ball the rest of the game,” said Libuda, who was true to his word with a career-high rushing performance on 24 carries for the 3-2 Hurricanes.
“He’s a good player,” said Hartford coach Mike Stone of his senior tailback. “He’s waited his turn and sat behind some pretty good players. He usually takes pretty good care of the ball.”
BFA, now 2-3, got an early 47-yard field goal from Robert Kelly to go with its fumble return for a score, but there were signs that things might be different in the second half.
Hartford outgained BFA 202-66 in the first 24 minutes and ran 27 more offensive plays.
Things didn’t improve for the Bobwhites in the second half.
Libuda scored on runs of two yards (off-tackle right) and four yards (up the gut) in the third quarter and then Dylan Rice (11 carries, 80 yards) made the score 19-10 with a 12-yard counter run to the left side with 10:00 to play.
Following an interception by Hartford’s Cameron Gaudette, Nolan Viens (11-36) scored on a four-yard off-tackle run of his own before Nick Terino (4-32) capped the Hurricane’s huge second half with a 13-yard scamper on another counter play that he cut back to the left for an easy score.
BFA’s only offensive drive of more than three plays in the second half was its last, capped by a pretty 30-yard strike from Kelly (8-for-16, 82 yards) to Ryley Mangan with 42 seconds to play.
“I thought we were better than last week,” said BFA coach Geoff Murray. “The execution was better. The effort was there. We got some things going early with the long field goal and the big play by Parady. Our defense did a good job in the first half of bending, but not breaking.
“In the second half, Hartford just physically took over the game. They are a very good team and obviously moved the ball up and down the field.”
Hartford, which also got a nice contribution in the running game from John Bielecki (6-63) outgained the Bobwhites 416-109 and run 79 offensive plays to BFA’s 35.
Charlie Richardson led the BFA running attack with 27 yards on eight carries. Anthony Clark caught four passes for 24 yards for the Bobwhites.