BARRE - The Spaulding football team held tight during Friday's overtime thriller, earning a 28-22 victory over Mount Abraham to snag its first win of the season.
The Crimson Tide defense stopped the Eagles on the first three plays of the overtime series, giving Spaulding's offense the ball at the opposite end. Grady Chase opened the drive with a 9-yard gain and Tide quarterback Jackson Pierson took advantage of solid blocking to score the game-winning touchdown.
"We got the ball at the 10 and we ran a simple dive play off to the right with Grady Chase," Spaulding coach Bob Lamb said. "He took it down to the 6-inch line, then we ran a quarterback sneak and Jackson Pierson went straight up the middle"
Pierson and Chase powered Spaulding's offense all game during the scrappy battle. The Eagles led 19-14 at halftime before the Crimson Tide built a 22-19 lead in the fourth quarter.
"At halftime we weren't over joyous, but it was positive," Lamb said. "We had done some good things in the first half and we needed to keep playing strong. Last week we were winning at halftime and came out flat. This time we were losing and we didn't have the letdown. We were waiting for the guys to find that extra gear and we played hard until the end."
Mount Abraham (1-3) made a 35-yard field goal to tie the game with 5:22 remaining. The Eagles defense neutralized Spaulding on the next possession, resulting in a fourth-down situation. The Eagles got the ball back in the final minute of regulation but didn't have enough time to make anything happen. Both teams headed to extra time and Spaulding's defensive players went straight to work.
"We won the toss and I elected to go on defense," Lamb said. "At that point our defense was playing really well, so I made the decision to put them out there first to see what we can do. And it was a good call. The defense came out with intensity and fire, and we had one or two sacks to move them back."
The Eagles started overtime 10 yards away from the end zone but were quickly pushed back by the Tide. Defensive tackles Colton Perkins and Matt Durgin and defensive ends Ethan Benoit and Mason Otis all made big plays for Spaulding. Mount Abraham attempted to kick a 45-yard field goal on fourth down, but the overtime bid fell short of the upright.
That put the Tide in control of their own destiny. And they didn't disappoint in front of their hometown fans.
"The atmosphere tonight was awesome and everyone was pumped up," Lamb said. "This was probably the loudest crowd I've heard since I've been here."
Spaulding (1-3) wound up on the opposite end of nail-biter during an early-season 15-14 loss to North Country. The Tide will travel to play Mount Mansfield at 3 p.m. Saturday.
"We've had some close games, but I don't think we've played that complete game," Lamb said. "It wasn't 100 percent a complete game, but it was as close as we've come. And you could tell. We didn't have the lapses and we didn't have the mental mistakes. We kept building and we finished strong."
Mt. Abraham 5, Spaulding 0
BRISTOL — Juliette Snell scored two second-half goals Friday as the Eagles rolled to their fourth straight victory. Spaulding’s defense kept things scoreless for the opening 20 minutes and their team entered halftime facing a 1-0 deficit. Goalie Lilly LaCroix made 10 saves for the Crimson Tide, who will host Middlebury at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.