CASTLETON, Vt. – The Becker defense was stout through three quarters and the offense jumped out to a 35-7 lead early in the fourth on the way to a 35-21 victory over the Spartans in Spartan Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Castleton struggled to find its offense early and then again in the third quarter but did finish with 469 yards of offense as the team dropped to 6-3 and 4-2 in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference. The Hawks, meanwhile, totaled 562 yards of offense, including 342 through the air as they won their program-best six game to go to 6-3 and 4-2 in conference play.
Freshman Moe Harris paced the Spartan offense with 161 yards rushing on 27 carries and one touchdown. He also caught one pass and had 68 kick return yards for 238 yards of offense. Busharis finished 28 of 47 for 258 yards and two scores but did throw one touchdown. Makai Hawkins caught seven passes for 65 yards with a touchdown while Jordan Goodrich hauled in six passes for 59 yards and a score.
Sophomore quarterback Nas Sinkfield-Shelton was dominant for Becker, completing 17 of 34 passes for 342 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing six times for 37 yards. His primary target was DeJahn Dawkins, who caught six passes for 161 yards and two scores. Matthew Romasco rushed 14 times for 75 as four rushers had at least 35 yards and the team finished with 220 total rushing yards.
Both offenses struggled early, but it was Hawks that struck first. After starting on its own 35-yard line, Becker moved into Castleton territory and down to the 21-yard line on an 18-yard completion for a first down. Sinkfield-Shelton then hit Dawkins for a 21-yard score and a 7-0 lead at 5:28.
The Hawks nearly added to their total on their next drive, moving all the way down to the one-yard line on second down. The Spartan defense held them without a score and on fourth down their field goal attempt went wide right.
Becker did push their lead to 14-0 late in the second quarter as Sinkfield-Shelton hit DeJahn Dawkins across the middle of the field at the 30-yard line and he outran the defense to the end zone with 2:14 left in the half.
Castleton responded before the half and drove down the field in the waning seconds. Busharis then found Hawkins in the left corner of the end zone with 15 seconds remaining to cut it to 14-7 at the half.
The Spartans took the second-half kickoff and marched all the way down to Becker one-yard line, but were stuffed on fourth down and the Hawks took over the ball. They added to their lead late in the quarter as Brandon Mulling scored from three yards to push the lead to 21-7 with 2:15 remaining in the quarter.
Busharis was picked off on his first pass of the ensuing possession and two plays later Mulling scored on a 23-yard touchdown pass for a 28-7 lead with 1:26 left.
Becker then pushed its lead to 35-7 with 12:51 remaining in the fourth quarter on a two-yard touchdown run by Jacob Holmes.
Castleton scored twice in the final 6:07 on a touchdown run by Harris and touchdown catch by Goodrich but it was too little too late as the Hawks earned the 14-point victory.
Junior Darren Callan led the defense with 12 tackles, including 1.5 for a loss while Brett Denning had seven tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, one sack and one forced fumble. Tyler Higley made six tackles with three passes defensed.
With Harris' 161 yards he set a new Castleton single-season rushing record with 930 yards on the season. Denning also tied the single-season record for tackles for a loss with 10.5, matching Mick Won's 2013 mark.