TOWNSEND — With their homecoming already rained out and pushed back a week, the North Middlesex football team saw their shot at climbing above .500 also washed away with the rain.
The Patriots could never find their traction on a muddy and rain-soaked John E. Young Memorial Field while visiting Hudson looked right at home. The Hawks dominated in all facets on Friday night, coasting to a 27-7 victory in Mid-Wach B action.
“We got beat by a better team tonight,” said North Middlesex coach Sandy Ruggles. “I think there will be some regrets about how we played and coached this tonight. The difference was on the line tonight and we got beat on both sides. We will have to go back to the drawing board and try to get better and prepare for next week.”
Hudson held a near three-to-one advantage in total yards (343-115) and was led by its dual-threat quarterback Dan Mendes. Mendes was near perfect through the air, connecting on seven of his eight passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns while adding 113 yards and a score on 24 carries on the ground. Running back Darnell Butler also had a big night, adding 113 yards and a score on 13 rushes in the Hawks win.
After forcing a three-and-out on the game’s opening possession, Hudson put together a long scoring march to get on the board. A 12-play, 75-yard drive was keyed by the play of Mendes, who totaled 63 yards (36 passing, 27 rushing) and converted a key third-and-11 from his own 41 with a 24-yard completion. On fourth-and-three from the Patriots 12, Mendes rolled to his left before lofting a pass into the waiting arms of Dan Bothwell in the end zone for a touchdown to make it 6-0.
Another long drive for the Hawks stalled out in the red zone. Through two drives for each team, Hudson had held the ball for 14:55 compared to just 4:40 for North Middlesex. Despite this huge discrepency, the Patriots found themselves down only six until a last-second score changed the complexion of the game.
The Hawks took control of the ball with just 46 seconds remaining at their own 34 and got a 14-yard run from Mendes. That was followed up by a 10-yard completion that moved the ball down to the Patriots 42 with just 15 seconds left. Out of a time-out, Hudson decided to take a shot at the end zone, and Mendes lofted a pass down the left sideline to Bobby Brisbois who got behind the defense and hauled it in for a score. The extra point by Mendes was good, making it 13-0 heading into the half.
“That touchdown before the half was an absolute killer,” said Ruggles. “We had not played that well, but we were hanging around. Going into the half down one score as compared to two is huge. When they scored that, you could see the wind come out of our sails a bit.”
Using the momentum from the late second quarter score, the Hawks blew the game open with scores on their first two possessions of the third quarter. Mendes capped off a five-play, 55-yard drive with a 13-yard scoring run. Darnell Butler did the honors on the ensuing march, breaking loose on a 53-yard TD run to complete a 72-yard, four-play possession. Mendes added the PAT’s on both scores to extend the advantage to 27-0.
North Middlesex saw a scoring opportunity go by the boards early in the fourth quarter when they fumbled at the three, but they would eventually end the shutout late in the game. John Boutwel connected with Dylan Woods for a five-yard TD pass to complete a 12-play, 55-yard TD drive. Ben Ferro added the extra point to account for the final as the Patriots fell to 3-4 on the season.
“We are making a lot of strides as a team, but we need to work more on consistency,” said Ruggles. “I thought we played hard, we just didn’t execute well and that needs to get better. I told the kids they have 10 minutes to be upset about this game and then we need to drop it and move on to preparing for St. Peter-Marian next week.”