Storm nab playoff berth

MANCHESTER -- The Southern Vermont Storm secured a playoff spot on Sunday afternoon with a 37-20 win over The Vermont Ravens at Applejack Field.

The Storm got out to a good start, scoring a touchdown in the first three minutes. A good kick return by Mike Waters put the Storm in good field position on their first possession and shortly after Storm running back Mike Woodson took the ball 14 yards for the score.

Following a quick four and out with 2:58 left to play in the first quarter, the Storm regained possession on the Ravens' 34-yard line. Two plays later, Storm quarterback Mike Stephens connected with Waters for the second touchdown of the day with 49.4 seconds left to make it 14-0.

The Ravens would not go quietly, though. Just two minutes into the second quarter, a shovel pass from Ravens quarterback Clayton Torres put them on board.

The Ravens struck again about five minutes later when Torres hit Steve Noyes in the corner of the end zone to make the score 14-12 after a failed two point conversion.

Turnovers proved costly for the Ravens, however, as the Storm capitalized off four of Torres' five interceptions.

With about three minutes remaining in the third quarter, one pick led to a 31-yard strike from Storm quarterback J.C. LeBarron to Waters to put the Storm on top 21-12.

With the offense lagging, LeBarron stepped in for Stephens behind center midway through the period. LeBarron had been the starting quarterback at the beginning of the season until he was sidelined with a concussion.

"I told Stephens, 'Mike, before the first half that I wanted to get J.C. in the game a little bit, get him some reps no matter what the situation was,'" said Stratton. "I sped up that decision.

"I was going to try to wait until the fourth quarter We were just stalling out on offense and I thought maybe a switch would give us a little bit of a spark and it ended up working out pretty good for us."

The Storm scored two more touchdowns and tacked on a 37-yard field goal off interceptions thrown by Torres.

"We started playing a little extra D-back because they were coming out and throwing a lot. The quarterback liked to scramble so we had to get the ends out to contain and they were just putting it up," said Geoff Silver who had three interceptions on the day "So, the defense came up huge today."

The Ravens narrowed the gap early in the fourth as Torres hit wide receiver Dylan Wright who took an outlet pass downfield, extending the ball over the pylon before he ran out of bounds for the score. A two-point conversion made it 28-20.

The Storm added a pick-six and Mike Dunham knocked in a second field goal to finish off the 37-20 win.

Woodson had 77 yards on 19 carries on the afternoon. Stephens threw 4-of-11 for 41 yards and one interception. LeBarron went 5-of-13 for 120 yards passing with two touchdowns.

The Storm can secure home field advantage with a win next week.


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