FARMINGTON — Mt. Blue’s ferocious defense led the way in a 40-13 win over Edward Little at Caldwell Field on Friday night.

The Cougars opened up the offense through the air, and quarterback Hunter Meeks played a role in all six touchdowns, but defense was the highlight for Mt. Blue coach Scott Franzose.

“The consistent defensive play and playing as a unit was big,” Franzose said. “We talked about playing as a unit, as a family, during pregame and we played as a unit and played with a little bit of swagger.

“It’s falling together at the right time.”

Defensive lineman Zach Delano’s energy played big role in the defense only giving up two scores. After a three-and-a-half sack performance a week ago, Delano followed it up with a career-high four sacks against the Red Eddies on Friday. 

“Basically, just all of us working together and individually, I go out and give 110 percent every time,” Delano said. “I don’t let myself slow down. Defensively, we just all worked together. After I get my first tackle, I’m ready to go for another and another one.”

Franzose has been impressed with Delano all year, and the junior has been spearheading the Cougars’ defense recently. 

“He’s got a motor,” Franzose said. “He grew up as a linebacker, so he’s kind of used to playing sideline-to-sideline, and you see that across the defensive line. He’s got a great motor and with everything he’s doing, he loves to get after the football.”

Edward Little played the Cougars close in the first half. 

On Mt. Blue’s first two possessions, the Red Eddies stopped the Cougars on fourth downs. Led by Gavin LePage, who had a sack and a few tackles, Edward Little defenders swarmed the ball carriers.

The Eddies’ third offensive possession ended in the game’s first score. 

Jack Keefe threw a 49-yard pass to Devonte Scott to set up a five-yard touchdown run by Keefe to put EL on top 6-0 near the end of the first quarter.

After starting with great field position, the Cougars did what they do best, run the ball, and tied the game with a five-yard touchdown run by Meeks.

EL lost a fumble early in the next drive, and from the Eddies’ 18-yard line, Meeks found a wide-open Kyle Fox in the right-back corner of the end zone for a touchdown and a 12-6 lead early in the second on what would be Fox’s first of three touchdowns on the night. 

The Cougars forced a punt, and three plays into the ensuing drive, Meeks found Fox again on an nearly identical play for another touchdown. Meeks converted a pass for the two-point conversion to give Mt. Blue a 20-6 lead, which it took into the halftime break.

“We have a good bond,” Fox said of his connection with Meeks. “Over the past few years we’ve always communicated well. He always throws me deep balls and I always catch them. Last year I got a lot of touchdowns, and this year I haven’t had as many so I was hoping to get more on my last night (at home).”

Because of the defenses the Cougars (5-2) have faced this season, as well as the offensive system put in place by Franzose and big leads forcing them to run the ball more, Fox hasn’t been used as much as last season. Franzose knew, however, that his time would come.  

“With Kyle, this being the first year of meeting him this summer and watching him on seven-on-seven and seeing how much of a hard worker he is and how dynamic he is, he has been kind of quiet,” Franzose said. “… Tonight it just kind of fell into place, and I thought Kyle did a great job getting open and making catches.”

In the second half, Meeks led a six-minute drive that he ended with a two-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 26-6. 

On the next drive, Meeks found Fox for a 49-yard touchdown pass, this time over the middle, to make it 33-6. 

For Edward Little (0-7) coach Dave Sterling, the 2019 season has been focused too often on plugging holes left by injuries. 

“We gave up some big touchdowns with blown coverages that we need to get better at,” Sterling said. “Some of our guys just haven’t played enough football. … That’s part of the game of football. Sometimes you have to learn the hard way, and that’s what these guys are doing.

“I am very impressed with the motivation as well as the resilience of our team.”

After Fox’s third touchdown, Keefe found a rhythm, particularly with receiver Cam Yorke. 

Edward Little was stopped on the ensuing offensive drive, but the defense recovered a fumble that gave EL the football on Mt. Blue’s 30-yard line.

Keefe then found Yorke for a 20-yard touchdown on which Yorke made a move and turned up the sideline to bring EL to within 33-13. 

“Jack Keefe has done an incredible job,” Sterling said. “He’s really our only quarterback, the other two have been hurt. Cam Yorke had some really good catches during the game, (receiver) John Shea has really come a long way, and they’re two guys who really haven’t played football.”

Meeks finished the scoring on the next drive by finding Tucker Nicholas for a 22-yard touchdown pass.

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