Slater comeback sinks Bulldogs

MANCHESTER -- Bursting out of halftime with a lengthy kickoff return and quick touchdown drive, Burr and Burton Academy monopolized the momentum with a third straight score and an 18-point lead in their Division II state championship rematch with Fair Haven.

But like that late-fall title clash a year ago, the Slaters had the answer this time, too.

Fair Haven shut out the high-octane BBA attack over the final 23 minutes Saturday and got four touchdowns from Dakota Euber to rally for a 36-35 win on the Bulldogs' Homecoming.

"These kids didn't become state champions last year without having the heart of a champion. I think they dug down at halftime and said if we want to make the playoffs we've got to do it now," Fair Haven coach Brian Grady said.

In a mid-season matchup of teams that stood at .500 before kickoff, the Slaters (3-2) saw the Bulldogs' (2-3) three straight touchdowns and fired back with the same.

After Euber's 25-yard touchdown scamper with 4 minutes 52 seconds left in the fourth quarter put the visitors ahead by a nose, 36-35, the Slaters forced a fourth-down interception deep in their own territory and gained two first downs to run out the clock on the Bulldogs.

"Execution is what it came down to," BBA coach Jason Thomas said. "There wasn't a change, really, in what they were doing defensively. It was just we didn't execute when we needed to."

Senior quarterback Jake Stalcup hit Wilson Vickers for a 14-yard touchdown strike with 10:58 left in the third quarter to lift BBA to a 35-17 cushion. But the Slaters responded with their own 10-play scoring drive capped by quarterback Andrew Reid's 17-yard TD run.

After forcing BBA to punt, Euber -- who passed for one score and ran for three -- finished off a nine-play march to cut the deficit to 35-29.

"It's not a secret who's getting the ball, it's just [Euber and Reid] are good," Thomas said. "We made a couple missed assignments where the kid responsible for the quarterback chases the running back and the quarterback busted around the edge.

"It's assignment football when you're playing these guys. You've got to keep them boxed in."

Stalcup finished with three touchdowns and 189 yards on 14-of-23 passing but only had two completions in the second half.

Chris Redding, who put the Bulldogs in front, 7-0, in the first quarter with a 4-yard run, piled up 177 yards of offense. He also caught a 15-yard touchdown pass as time expired on the first half and tossed a 69-yard touchdown to Seth Wilkins in the second quarter.

"Those are two really good offenses -- but I think we grew up on defense today," Grady said. "Those guys, Stalcup and Redding, are really good on offense. They're tough to defend."

Despite the potent offense pumping out 43.3 points per contest -- a figure that doesn't include Springfield's Week 4 forfeit -- the Bulldogs' third defeat by single digits has them on the outside of the D-II playoff picture.

"We've got to win out and need some help," Thomas said. "It's not looking good. We put ourselves in this position. You lose by six, by seven, by one ... and you're on the outside looking in."


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