With the season on the line, the Burlington-South Burlington co-op football team needed a big play.
The SeaWolves came up with a stop on the two-yard line in overtime to beat Rutland 33-27 and secure a spot in the Division I playoffs.
“That’s the happiest sports moment I have ever had,” said running back Manny Dodson. “This was a playoff game for us. We just gave it all our all.”
The SeaWolves (5-3) earned the No. 7 seed in the postseason and will face off against No. 2 Rutland in a rematch of Friday’s OT classic on Friday at 7 p.m.
“First year for this combined team, we want to go to the ‘ship,” said junior Brett Bohlman. “I have never been in the playoffs with SB... it feels so good to finally be in there.”
Coming into the final week of the regular season, the SeaWolves needed a win to qualify. A loss and they would be on the outside, looking in.
”Our kids stepped up this week,” said SeaWolves coach Joe McDonald. “They knew there was a lot riding on this game.”
After opening up a 20-7 lead at halftime, the SeaWolves watched the Raiders outscore them 20-7 in the second half to force overtime.
In the extra period, each team starts on the 10-yard line and gets four downs to get into the end zone. The SeaWolves didn’t wait, with Kai Schmidt running it into the end zone from 10 yards out on first down to give the home team a 33-27 lead.
“The energy on that play was through the roof,” Bohlman said. “We all had faith in the offense to get in the end zone.”
But the missed extra point meant the defense needed to stop the high-powered Rutland offense. After three runs fell short, the Raiders had a 4th and 2 and the SeaWolves needed one more stand.
”The kids rose to the occasion,” McDonald said. “I am proud of all these guys.”
Dodson and Bohlman teamed up to get the stop, securing the win and the playoff spot for Burlington-South Burlington.
“We just had to take a risk,” Dodson said. “I missed so many tackles that game, I was determined that I was not going to miss that tackle. I grabbed his leg and I was not letting go.”
Dodson finished the game with 170 yards on the ground, two rushing touchdowns, and a TD pass. The pass came on a trick play in the second quarter, with QB Kevin Papariello pitching it back to Dodson, who found Duncan MacDonald with a 20-yarder for the score.
Bassiru Diawara also had a score for the SeaWolves, catching the ball and scampering in from 30 yards out.
Now, the SeaWolves will have to regroup and get ready to face the team that they just beat in the postseason.
“That’s a good team,” McDonald said of the Rutland group that is 6-2. “Obviously they have got a lot of wins, they have done well this year.”
SOURCE: Lauren Read, Sports Correspondent