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NCL I football: Hoppe leads St. Helena to seventh win

By PETER FOURNIER
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

ST. HELENA — Quaraterback Richard Hoppe scored only one touchdown for St. Helena in the second half of Friday night’s homecoming game against Middletown.

Good thing he had already scored five in the first half.

Hoppe’s six touchdowns — four passing and two rushing — along with 323 passing yards led the Saints to 42-21 North Central LeagueI victory over the Mustangs.

Hoppe gave the credit to his blockers.

“I do get the snaps, but it all starts with the five up front,” he said. “From center to guard to tackle, our tight ends and receivers blocking — it all starts with them.”

St. Helena coach Brandon Farrell said Hoppe is a phenomenal player to coach.

“I can’t say enough about him because he was seeing the same thing as what we were seeing on the field,” Farrell said.

Farrell was referring to Hoppe’s scrambling ability, which helped him find Gatlin Blakely on a 71-yard pass in the first quarter. That set up his first rushing touchdown, putting the Saints (7-0, 4-0) up 14-0. Hoppe’s evasiveness later helped him find Danny Brink on a 57-yard pass, putting the quarterback in position for his second rushing touchdown of the game to make it 21-7 in the second quarter.

“Some of those situations, you call a play and you see him scrambling around,” Farrell said. “Credit our guys moving around after the play is broken, but Richard is able to find those guys and he just throws strikes and he always throws the ball away from the defense.”

Hoppe said the Saints are taking it one game at a time, but Friday’s win was big. “It’s a big win on homecoming against a good opponent, a team that was well prepared for us I thought we did really well.”

Down 35-7 at the half, Middletown (4-3, 2-2) fought back to make it a two-touchdown game late in the fourth quarter. The urgency came too little, too late, as Hoppe’s final touchdown to Danny Brink with less than five minutes to go in regulation put the game away for good.

Brad Beckwith scored three rushing touchdowns for Middletown, two 1-yarders and a 2-yard blast to account for the Mustangs’ points.

Hoppe threw two touchdown passes each to Brink twin brothers Joey and Danny, with Joey’s 61-yard pass in the second the longest.