HAMPDEN — Jim Aylward hasn’t been coaching football at Mt. Blue for all that long, but he has been coaching long enough to know when his team has the other team by the throat.

Against Hampden on Friday night, that moment came in the second quarter. Mt. Blue trailed 13-12, but a touchdown by JT Williams sparked a run of 42 straight points for the Cougars and a season-opening 54-13 victory.

“We just started getting off the ball,” Aylward said. “The first two times Hampden had the ball, they big-played us. After that, our kids settled in. I just felt the momentum of the game had changed at that point.”

The teams traded scores in a wild first quarter. Williams, who rushed 18 times for 98 yards and caught four passes for 84 yards, scored on a 52-yard pass from Ryan Pratt and a 2-yard run. But new Hampden quarterback Tommy Farrar hit Conary Moore for 48 yards and one touchdown, then worked a flea-flicker and bombed one to Jake Black for 56 yards and a 13-12 Hampden lead late in the first quarter.

But after those first two possessions, the Cougars held Hampden to 74 total yards the rest of the night. Farrar completed six of 14 passes for 165 yards, but was also sacked three times and pressured on almost every passing play.

“I thought that just overall, the biggest thing is our offensive and defensive lines played very well,” Williams said. “There were pretty big gaps on offense, and also, there were a lot of tackles made by the defensive line on defense. I think to win a football game, you have to block and tackle better than the other team, and I think we did that tonight.”

Williams ran one in from five yards out to give Mt. Blue an 18-13 lead with 10:11 to go in the second quarter. With the Broncos defense geared up to stop Williams, Mt. Blue countered with deception. Pratt handed off to Williams on what looked like a sweep to the right, but Nate Pratt-Holt took the handoff from Williams on an end-around and raced 48 yards for the touchdown.

Leading 26-13, Mt. Blue took over on its own 45-yard line with 16.6 seconds left in the half. A late hit by Hampden got the Cougars close enough for Pratt to heave a pass to Pratt-Holt for a 32-yard touchdown play on the final play of the half.

After a scoreless third quarter, Zach Meader scored on touchdown runs of 14 and 33 yards, and Levi Lamphier brought it in from 18 yards out. It was a good start in a new system, but as Aylward pointed out, it was just that — a start.

“So far, so good,” Aylward said. “I think we have a huge learning curve. This community has high expectations. We’re green. We have a lot of kids, first varsity game. I’ll take this. That being said, we know we have a long ways to go.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo

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