PITTSFIELD — Late in the fourth quarter, the cry came from the bleachers behind the Hermon bench.

“Can anybody stop Bussell? Anybody?” Said the Hermon fan, speaking for everyone pulling for the Hawks.

In short, the answer was no. With Maine Central Institute running nothing but power football in the second half, with fullback Seth Bussell leading the way, the Huskies went up and down the field. That smash mouth approach helped the Huskies overcomes an early 12-point deficit to take a 29-25 win over Hermon in a battle of teams with Big 11 Conference title aspirations.

Both MCI and Hermon are 3-1.

Bussell (112 yards) and Tucker Sharples (127 yards) did most of the damage for the Huskies in the ground. Bussell, who also plays guard, credited the offensive line.

“We had a game plan to run and pass, but we figured we could do it right on the ground,” Bussell said.

Sharples scored on a 2-yard run with 2:56 to play to give the Huskies the lead for good. Hermon’s last chance ended when MCI’s Tyler Staples intercepted a pass at his own 40 with 1:36 to play.

MCI trailed 12-7 at the half, but the Huskies’ opening drive of the third quarter was a preview of what was to come. After Will Russell’s 49-yard return set up the Huskies at the Hawks 41, they needed just five plays, all runs, to take the lead. Tucker Sharples’ 13-yard touchdown run and 2-point conversion gave MCI a 15-12 lead.

Every play MCI ran in the second half was a run, and most were between the tackles.

“We went some unbalanced in the first half. We don’t have a lot of plays out of that,” MCI coach Tom Bertrand said. “We needed to get back to just basics.”

After holding the Hawks on downs at their own 20, MCI went back to work on the ground, going 80 yards in eight plays. Bussell’s 2-yard touchdown run gave MCI a 22-12 lead.

“That’s MCI football, through and through,” Hermon coach Kyle Gallant said. “It was a battle of linemen tonight, and we didn’t win it.”

Hermon did win the turnover battle, and that helped the Hawks stay in the game in the second half. After quarterback Garrett Trask scored on a 5-yard run ton cut MCI’s lead to 22-18 early in the fourth quarter, the Hawks capitalized on an MCI fumble to retake the lead. Trask connected with Wyatt Gogan on a 41-yard touchdown pass, giving Hermon a 25-22 lead with 8:41 to go.

Containing Trask, Hermon’s leading rusher as well as a great passer, was key, Bertrand said. The quarterback finished with 24 yards on 16 carries.

“If we’re going to have a shot at this, we’ve got to keep (Trask) between the tackles,” Bertrand said. “We knew we had to start with Trask and keep him in the pocket, and he still made plays.”

For most of the first quarter, Hermon’s offense went backward. After running 11 plays, the Hawks had minus-11 yards. A 19-yard completion by Trask to Keith Pomeroy on third and 15 gave the Hawks their first first down before River Mullen ran 65 yards for the game’s first score on the next play, which gave Hermon a 6-0 lead with 7.8 seconds left in the first quarter.

Hermon capitalized on a big play on its next possession, when Pomeroy caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Trask for a 12-0 lead with 7:31 left in the first half.

“Once we got settled down, we were able to move the football and do what we do,” Gallant said.

After turning the ball over twice in the first quarter, including once at the Hermon 21, MCI put together its first scoring drive in the second quarter. The Huskies went 59 yards in 10 plays, scoring on quarterback Ryan Friend’s 5 yard run with 1:40 to play before the half. The key play of the drive was Will Russell’s 20-yard run on a fake punt to extend the drive.

The fake was a spur of the moment call, Bertrand said.

“It was an opportunity. Let (Russell) make a play,” Bertrand said.

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