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Middlebury brings Hartford's streak to end


1:00 AM, Sep. 07, 2013 EDT
MIDDLEBURY — 

For more than half a decade, Hartford has pummeled teams on its way to five Division I titles, back-to-back perfect seasons and a 27-game winning streak.

And on Friday night, Middlebury did something no other Vermont team could claim in nearly three years.

The Tigers topped Hartford at its own game.

Behind the flashy moves of Austin Robinson and a punishing defensive front, Middlebury controlled the line of scrimmage and ran past Hartford 23-0 in a high school football showdown.

"They beat us and they beat us up front and to their credit," Hartford coach Mike Stone said.

Robinson scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns -- the first on a nifty, sack-escaping 16-yard run -- and the Tigers pulled away to end the three-time defending state champions' winning streak that dated back to the 2010 season.

"They do a lot of same things we do. They run it hard and have a big line. We had to buckle up and play 100 percent," said Robinson, who finished with 71 rushing yards on 11 carries. "We couldn't really beat them the past couple of years. It feels great to finally get over that hump."

The Tigers, 2-0 after opening with a rout of Essex in Week 1, showed they can beat any team in the state, Robinson said.

"It just means we can do anything. We already knew that, but this game definitely reinforces that," Robinson said. "We can do whatever we put our minds to."

Middlebury limited Hartford to 118 yards of offense, including just six in the first quarter. The Tigers also scored all three of their touchdowns on third-down plays and converted on fourth down on the game's opening drive to set up Cullen Hathaway's TD run.

Jacob Trautwein headlined an unrelenting defensive showing for Middlebury, which was without the services of Sam Smith, a key player in the secondary.

"I thought my kids stepped up to the challenge. They did a great job, stayed low and tackled well," Middlebury coach Dennis Smith said. "They did a great job reading their offense and kept them in check."

Ahead 10-0 entering the fourth quarter, Robinson went to work. With two Hartford players zeroed in on a sack, Robinson slipped past them and broke outside, sprinting into the end zone for the sealing TD. Robinson added another score with 6:26 to go, a 3-yard run set up by Connor Quinn's interception.

"I thought he was done before he even started," said Smith of Robinson evading the sack. "He just has that part about him. When nothing is there, he can make something happen."

Dylan Rice's 31 yards on the ground was tops for Hartford, which dealt with injuries to its offensive line. The Hurricanes (1-1) only advanced into Middlebury territory once, on their second possession of the game.

"I thought somewhere along the line ... we were not going to play as well as we are capable of," Stone said. "We didn't know quite how to respond to that. Hopefully that's a lesson learned."

Middlebury, benefiting from Nicholas Felkl's long return on the opening kickoff, went 30 yards in 10 plays to score its first touchdown. Following Robinson's interception, Joshua Sterns added a 22-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead late in the final minute of the first quarter.

And Middlebury was off and running.

"The question mark was: Are we ready for a physical game? That's what you are going to get when you play a team like Hartford," Smith said.

"After beating Hartford, everybody is going to be saying the bull's eye is on you."

 

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