By: Mark Mercer – THE VILLAGE REPORTER
DELTA – The Montpelier Locomotives traveled to Delta on Friday, November 1 in the season finale, and when the final gun sounded to close out the season, the Loco’s dropped another hard fought game to a tough Delta squad 47-7. The loss drops the Locomotives to 2-8 on the season and 1-7 in NWOAL action.
Delta opened up the scoring on the evening at 5:54 in the 1st quarter when the Panthers connected on a 42 yard scoring strike and following the extra point, Delta moved to a 7-0 lead. The Locomotive defense stood solid throughout the 1st, but Delta’s powerful ground attack took control and kept the Loco offense off the field. Delta added another score with 31 seconds remaining in the quarter on a 49 TD run to make the score 14-0 at the end of the 1st.
Each team traded possessions in the opening minutes of the second quarter, but once again, the powerful Panther ground attack took control and at 8:04 punched the ball into the end zone to move to a 21-0 lead following the extra point. Delta added another scoring run at the 4:51 mark with a 5 yard run, closing out the half at 28-0.
To open the 3rd quarter, the Locomotive ground game got a feisty Locomotive squad on the scoreboard when Quarterback Keegan Hitzeman plunged into the end zone from 1 yard out, and following the successful extra point, the Loco’s closed the gap to 28-7. But as the Locomotives found some success on the ground, the Panther defense stood tall and shut down any come back the Loco’s had in mind, while adding to their lead on a 8 yard power run at the 5:54 mark in the quarter, bringing the score to 34-7 and closing out the quarter.
Into the 4th quarter, the Panther defense continued to stymie the Locomotive attack with an athletic and fast group of defenders. Delta punched the ball into the end zone with another scoring strike from 24 yards out on a catch and determined run through the Loco defense, bringing the score to 40-7. The Panthers then rounded out the scoring for the evening when at the 4:05 mark, the Panther offensive line paved the way for a powerful 90 yard burst though the Montpelier defense, bringing the score to 47-7 and closing out a tough season for the young Locomotives.
On the night for the Locomotives, Hitzeman gained 67 yards through the air, going 4-20 with 1 interception. Receiving for the Locos, Alex Zuver hauled in 2 catches for 20 yards, while Cody Caudill snagged 2 catches for 47 yards.
On the ground, Jordan Birdsall led the Loco’s with 58 yards on 15 carries, Levi Croft added 9 yards on 5 carries. Wyatt Beck toughed out 5 yards on 9 carries and QB Hitzeman added 4 yards.
Defensively for the Locomotives, Birdsall led all defenders with 11.5 stops on the night while Nate McCord chipped in 4 tackles. Caudill added 3.5 hits along with Simon Wang, Jared Sargent, and Nathan Buehrer who contributed 2.5 take downs. Max Hulbert and Zuver had 2 stops with Hitzeman adding 1.5 tackles. Morrissey was credited with 1 stop and Ivan Moore along with Austin Cook rounded out the defensive effort with .5 tackles credited on the night.
Also for the Locomotives, Caudill chipped in an extra point on the evening and punter Hulbert kicked 8 times for 188 yards averaging 23.5 yards per punt.
In closing out what was a brutal schedule on the season, the Locomotives showed toughness and promise for next season, and with 20 letterman returning for the Locomotives next year, optimism abounds throughout the program. The experience gained against what is arguably the toughest schedule in the area this year will provide valuable game time knowledge next year as the Loco’s open a new campaign.
Mark Mercer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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