New London edges Middletown on last-second field goal

Middletown QB Dario Highsmith (6) attempts to avoid the New London defense on Friday, November 8, 2013 at Canamella Field in New London. Middletown would go on to lose their first game of the season, 23-21, on a final-play field goal by New London. Photo Mike Connors / For the Middletown Press

Middletown QB Dario Highsmith (6) attempts to avoid the New London defense on Friday, November 8, 2013 at Canamella Field in New London. Middletown would go on to lose their first game of the season, 23-21, on a final-play field goal by New London. Photo Mike Connors / For the Middletown Press

NEW LONDON >> Middletown’s unbeaten season came to an end Friday night.

New London freshman Garrett Burdick kicked a 22-yard field goal as time expired, lifting the Whalers to a come-from-behind, 23-21, non-league victory against the Blue Dragons at newly refurbished Camanella Field.

Middletown, ranked No. 3 in the New Haven Register football poll, fell to 8-1, while New London (6-2) captured its fifth straight and moved into the eighth and final spot in the Class L playoff rankings.

“It’s a tough way to lose,” said Middletown coach Sal Morello. “But we win together and we lose together. At some point we’ve been telling the kids those penalties are going to catch up to us and they did. We had two touchdowns called back and that’s part of the game. There are no excuses.”

Middletown junior quarterback Dario Highsmith rushed for 221 yards on 39 carries with three touchdowns. But a 60-yard touchdown run by Highsmith with the Blue Dragons leading 21-14 early in the fourth quarter was nullified by an illegal procedure penalty and that set the stage for the Whalers comeback.

Besides numerous penalties, Middletown also fumbled the snap on a punt attempt in the foruth quarter.

The kick was eventually blocked and the ball was recovered by New London’s J. Hunter Roman at the Blue Dragons 15 yard line.

Two plays later, Whalers junior quarterback Danny Maranda zipped a TD pass to Jelani Lucas.

Middletown’s Jacob Homar made a sensational block on Burdick’s extra point try and the Blue Dragons led 21-20 with 6:12 left to play.

Middletown, however, failed to get a first down and the Whalers began their game-winning drive at their own 37. Maranda, who completed 19 of 20 passes for 165 yards, found Lucas for 30 yards to get the ball into Blue Dragons territory.

Maranda also hit Lucas on a key third-and-17 play as Lucas leaped over two Middletown defenders to grab the ball, giving the Whalers a first and goal at the five yard line.

Three running plays later netted no yards and New London let the clock run down to 2.2 seconds as Burdick trotted onto the field.

“I felt a lot of pressure,” Burdick said. “I wasn’t feeling the greatest, a lot of butterflies. I’m only a freshman. I saw the snap, I saw the kick and I just hammered it.”

“He’s done it all year long,” said New London coach Duane Maranda. “I was just hoping for the protection. I knew that if he got the protection and got the kick off it was going to be good and the protection was there.”

Middletown went 72 yards on seven plays on the game’s opening possession, capped by a Highsmith’s five-yard TD run. Blue Dragons sophomore Hunter Belzo recovered the ensuing kick-off and Highsmith engineered another scoring drive, racing into the end zone from 14 yards out to give Middletown a 14-0 lead with 4:37 left in the first quarter.

New London answered on a 17-yard scoring toss from Miranda to Joes Garcia and the Blue Dragons led 14-7 at halftime.

Highsmith’s 34-yard TD scamper made it 21-7. But New London’s Nico Ramos answered with a 60-yard touchdown run to make it 21-14.

“Now we know what this part feels like,” said Morello.

“It doesn’t feel too good. We’ve just got to get back to work and get ready for Simsbury. We have to use this as a learning experience. I told the kids we’ve got plenty to play for still. We just have to keep working.”

 

Comments

  1. James says

    Saying you got two td called back is making excuses. The first time they play someone half decent they struggle and lose. Hmmm

    • fciac jr says

      Didn’t SPB or somebody else write an article at the end of last season saying Middletown decided to drop the game because of the annual loses and the effect of not being able to move on in the states because of the loss? I just remember somebody wrote on this.

      • Sean Patrick BowleySean Patrick Bowley says

        @FCIAC Jr. – Bransfield wrote something, but it was vague on the real reason. Just said ‘mutual decision’ I honestly don’t know why they would.

  2. UJake says

    Truth is, this could be the best thing to happen to Middletown. It’s not like they’re playing for their playoff lives, and they still are in line for a game at home. If they use this loss correctly, it ought to make them a more dangerous team at 10-1 than they would have been at 11-0.

  3. James says

    Ccc actual has some decent teams middletown just doesn’t play them lol. When is glastonbury and southingtin going to be on your schedule. Show some class like hand who plays the best if the best every year East Lyme get serious honestly

  4. says

    Didn’t New London lose to Capital Prep 53-14? Bullard Havens gave a better fight then that 27-18 so what does that say about Middletown? Would a Tech team beat them 55-14 given the 2 point margin they loss to New London bye. Idk how good can a team be when they lose that bad to a tech team none the less never mind that how BAD is the team the lost to the team that lost to the TECH team by 39!! Not bashing anyone here i’m just a bit confused on this. Feel free to enlighten me on this subject of how people ever said they were a #1 team. Please!!!

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