Rutland cruises into regional final | Sports

Rutland senior Evan Pockette didn’t want his last game on Alumni Field to be Friday night against Mill River.

He made sure of it in the second quarter.

Pockette tossed for 166 yards and four touchdown passes in that quarter, putting the Minutemen in a deep hole they couldn’t come out of in a 49-20 Rutland win in the regional semifinals.

For Pockette and his four fellow seniors, it feels real good to have a chance at a championship.

“It means a lot, especially with everything we’ve been through, it has taken a lot to get here,” Pockette said. “As a senior, it will be good to be back here and playing my last game on Alumni (Field).”

The second quarter of Friday’s game belonged to Rutland. The Raiders started the quarter on the Mill River 21-yard line and they wasted little time putting the ball in the end zone.

Pockette connected with senior Cory Drinwater three straight plays to push Rutland’s lead to 14-6.

“Our game plan was to go fast,” Pockette said. “We did just that. They couldn’t stop us.”

The Minutemen couldn’t stop the Raiders, but Rutland certainly could stop Mill River.

After a pair of incompletions, Slade Postemski picked off Evan McPhee, and five plays later, Pockette and Drinwater linked up for another score.

On the fourth play of the Minutemen’s next drive, the same story. Junior Ben Parker picked off McPhee and a four-play drive netted Rutland another touchdown, this one from Pockette to Ian Courcelle.

Mill River threw its third interception of the second quarter a few drives later with Postemski doing the honors. Rutland capitalized yet again with Pockette and Jack Coughlin connecting.

Pockette threw a ball up to the right side and Coughlin jumped and came down with it, avoiding a touch and slithering into the end zone.

“It’s all about turnovers and unfortunately we had a lot early on and it’s tough to come back from that,” said Mill River coach Greg Lewis. “That’s been our Achilles heel this year. We don’t have a lot of experience at quarterback and it’s a lot of weight to put on those guys shoulders.”

“We were just able to make some plays in the second quarter,” said Rutland coach Mike Norman. “Our older kids did a nice job. We have a chance to play here one more time, particularly for the five seniors. I can’t say enough about what they’ve done.”

The hole was far too deep to climb out of, but the Minutemen looked much better in the second half.

Their first drive of the second half was 15 plays and was capped off by a touchdown pass from Chris Burnett to Allen Severance.

Rutland’s Eli Pockette threw two touchdowns in the second half, both to Jonah Bassett, while McPhee connected with Dallas Bryant for an 11-yard touchdown for Mill River.

After picking off Mill River quarterback Chris Burnett on the second play of the game, the Raiders drove from the 50-yard line into the red zone on four plays. A 14-yard pass from Eli Pockette to Anthony Rock put the ball on the 3, before Eli Pockette and Collin Kimball connected for a 3-yard score.

Mill River bounced back from the interception with an 11-play drive finished off by a beautiful floating pass to the right side by Burnett to Ross Badgley for an 18-yard touchdown.

The Minutemen finish the year at 2-9. The record might not have been pretty, but Mill River held its own against many of the best in the state and saw development.

“(Our quarterbacks) did a great job this year. It was the first time for all three of them,” Lewis said.

“We were in a lot of games against teams in higher divisions. The players exceeded my expectations. We didn’t know what to make of this coming into it.”

Rutland (7-3) hosts Mount Anthony in the regional final next week. The Patriots survived an instant classic at Spinelli Field on Friday, beating Fair Haven 63-62 in triple overtime.


Follow Adam on Twitter: @AAucoin_RH

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