CROMWELL >> Sophomore quarterback Mavric Pelletier threw for 177 yards and ran for 120 more to lead Cromwell to a come-from-behind 27-13 Pequot Conference North division win over Windsor Locks/Suffield/East Granby at Pierson Park Saturday afternoon.
After a dreadful quarter and a half, the Panthers found themselves down 13-0. But they got off the deck and put 17 points on the board in six minutes, 44 seconds to take a 17-13 halftime lead. The second half was all Cromwell.
“Oh boy, in that first quarter we shot ourselves in the foot,” said Cromwell coach Chris Eckert. “We got frustrated, we had so many penalties — even our bench got a penalty — and we know you can’t win with yellow flags on the ground. I was definitely worried down 13-0.”
Cromwell was penalized a staggering 15 times for 118 yards, with six of those violations coming in the first quarter. The call on the bench was for sideline interference and there were five holding calls (both the offensive and defensive variety), one of which negated a Cromwell interception.
But the Panthers survived the yellow blizzard.
“We got better as the game went on,” said Eckert. “Our offensive line [Jack Hemsley, Noah Yankowski, Joey Chaves, John Weaver, Isaiah King] took over the line of scrimmage and with the adjustments we made at halftime, we were able to move the ball on the ground.”
Cromwell had 209 yards on the ground on 41 carries. Freshman running back Kristian Sapp had 79 yards in 17 carries.
“Kristian is getting better,” said Eckert. “He still makes freshman mistakes, but he’s learning and even when he’s not in the game, he’s focused.”
Pelletier finished with 12 completions in 24 attempts. He threw for one touchdown and ran for another.
“He’s something special,” said Eckert. “He takes to coaching and he’s like having another coach on the field. He’s going to be a very dangerous quarterback in this league before he’s done.”
He’s pretty dangerous right now.
Trailing 13-0, Pelletier got the Panthers back in the game when he hit Cole Bradley over the middle for a 46-yard touchdown with 6:44 left in the first half. With Mike McNally’s automatic PAT, it was 13-7.
The Cromwell defense forced a three and out and Pelletier went to work again. He drove the Panthers 70 yards in nine plays, scoring the TD himself on an 8-yard run. Pelletier was 3-for-5 on the drive, including a 25-yard completion to Emir Cirikovic to the 8-yard line. Pelletier also ran the ball four times for 45 yards.
As was the case most of the day, the Panthers had to overcome a holding penalty on that drive.
Cromwell (4-1) scored as the half ran out as McNally kicked a 36-yard field goal, capping a 6-play, 51-yard drive, giving his team the aforementioned 17-13 lead at intermission.
McNalley added another field goal, this time a 34-yarder, with 4:59 to go in the third quarter. That came at the end of a 16-play, 80-yard drive that began at the Cromwell 3-yard line. The Panthers had to overcome three penalties on this drive, two of them holding calls.
The final Cromwell score came with 4:12 left in the game. On fourth and one from the 25 yard line, Sapp burst up the middle for a touchdown and with McNally’s kick, it was game, set, match.
Windsor Locks took a 13-0 lead on a 43-yard touchdown throw from Ago Jiminez to Nate Pierce at 9:24 of the first quarter and a 76-yard run by Jarvis Miller (15 carries, 139 yards) at 8:03of the second.
Windsor Locks (4-2) had 240 yards offense, but 195 of those yards came in the first quarter and a half. After that the Raiders went nowhere. Cromwell had 386 yards.
With the win, Cromwell has jumped into the middle of the Class S playoff picture. The Panthers are now ranked No. 6 in Class S. The top eight teams make the postseason.
Cromwell plays SMSA/University at Dillon Stadium in Hartford Saturday at noon.