Mt. Hope enjoys Homecoming victory

Quarterback Kyle Valenzuela carries the ball for yardage during a Mt. Hope football game earlier this season. The Huskies and Eagles will play in their annual Thanksgiving Day game on Thursday. Quarterback Kyle Valenzuela carries the ball for yardage during a Mt. Hope football game earlier this season. The Huskies and Eagles will play in their annual Thanksgiving Day game on Thursday.

Quarterback Kyle Valenzuela carries the ball for yardage during Mt. Hope’s Homecoming game on Sunday.

It wasn’t an easy win, but it was a telling win on Sunday, when a Mt. Hope extra point gave the Huskies a 21-20 victory in overtime against Coventry High School.

“Now you know why we work so hard,” head coach, Brian Cote, told the exuberant team in the postgame huddle. “This shows that this team has a lot of character.”

Going into Sunday’s Homecoming game, rescheduled from Friday’s rain-out, the two teams were tied with a record of 2-2 in their Division 2 standings. Recognizing the Oakers’ strong ground game, Mr. Cote prepared the defense to anticipate a rugby-like scrum.

“This is a team that likes to run the ball. They’ll run 95-percent of the time. We’re ready for them,” Mr. Cote said before the start of Sunday’s game.

After winning the coin toss, the Huskies opted to kick off to the Oakers who set up a three yard run to score the first touchdown in the first quarter. After failing to convert the extra point, Coventry’s kick-off was caught by Tevin Jones (#3) who zipped through the Oakers’ defense for a 77 yard return to tie the game quickly.

From the opening kick-off both teams played a physical and aggressive game. Eight penalties, three against Coventry and five against Mt. Hope were racked up in the first quarter. By game’s end, the Huskies had racked up 10 penalties, costing them a total of 80 yards.

In the second quarter, Coventry set up another three yard rush into the end zone, this time making the two point conversion and taking the lead at 14-6. When Mt. Hope took possession, runs by Jessie Raiola (#25) and Jones (#3) gave the Huskies a first down. But with under two minutes in the half, a pass intended for Jones was picked off by Coventry who retained their lead going into the half.

Neither team scored in the third quarter, but both teams continued to draw personal fouls. Quarterback Kyle Valenzuela (#2) connected with Raiola for the first down near the end zone, but personal fouls committed on both sides caused the down to be played over. On the next play, Ryan Bartell (#17) moved the ball to the 13 yard line, but the third quarter ended with Valenzuela getting sacked, followed by a fourth quarter pass attempt intercepted by Coventry. The Oakers were unable to break the Huskies defense, sending a fourth down turnover punt out of bounds at their own 22 yard line.

With 9:20 remaining in the game, Raiola carried the ball into the end zone, and team captain Nick Murgo (#44) ran in for the two point conversion, tying the game at 14 – 14. The clock ran out sending the game into overtime.

Overtime victory
To break the tie, each team would take possession, using four downs for an opportunity to score from the 10 yard line. As determined by a coin toss, Coventry took first possession, scoring a touchdown, but failing to connect on the extra point attempt.

On their scoring attempt, Mt. Hope lost 5 yards on an offensive foul, then overthrew a pass to Jared Ramos (#85), sending the ball out of bounds. On third down, Jones carried the ball into the end zone to tie the game, with the extra point kick by Jake “the Leg” Silva (#12) sailing through the uprights, giving the Huskies a 21 – 20 Homecoming win.

“Every day during practice I put up field goals,” Jake said after scoring the winning the extra point. “This is what I live for.”

Leading the team in carries, Raiola netted 44 yards and Valenzuela held onto the ball for 18. Valenzuela also completed seven of his 13 pass attempts, moving the ball for 77 yards.

Defensively, Bailey Ziobro (#33) was involved in 16 Coventry tackles, 5 of them unassisted. Joshua Hunt (#81) and Nick Murgo also made 5 unassisted tackles against the Oakers.

Mr. Cote couldn’t have asked for a better ending.

“This is the type of stuff you look for in a team. We manned up in the second half. My defensive coordinator did a great job making adjustments on the fly. I’m very proud of the way we played today,” Mr. Cote said.

With this win, the Huskies improved their record to 3-2, breaking the tie in the standings with Coventry who dropped to 2-3.

On Friday, Oct. 26, the Huskies will host Toll Gate High School (0-5) for a 7 p.m. game.

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