STRATFORD >> It literally came down to the game’s final play, but the end result remained the same as it had the previous six seasons.
Kyle Kodnia’s 38-yard field goal attempt into the wind at the final whistle came up short, allowing Bunnell to hang on for the 12-10 win at Penders Field Thursday in the annual matchup between the South-West Conference rivals.
“We have a lot of respect for those Stratford kids; they gave us everything they had,” Bunnell coach Doug Cotto said. “It came down to a kick at the very end. Our kids played hard. Luckily, we came out on top.”
Devante Teel’s 3-yard touchdown catch from quarterback Adam Wojenski with 3 minutes left not only put Bunnell (4-8) ahead to stay, but accounted for the only points scored in the second half.
Cotto pulled starter Nolan Aurelia to start the fourth quarter. Wojenski drove the Bulldogs 50 yards in nine plays before hitting Teel across the middle on a 3rd-and-goal situation. The two-point pass to Teel fell incomplete.
“I saw the outside linebacker sneaking up, so I knew I would be open when I came across,” Teel said. “I know Adam believes in me.”
Said Cotto about making the switch at QB: “We thought we needed a spark. Our offense was sputtering. … Anytime we need a play, we always look to Devante. He is our No. 1 receiver for a reason.”
Anthony Johnson recovered a fumbled snap for the Bulldogs to stop Stratford’s ensuing possession. But the Red Devils forced Bunnell to punt and had one last chance with under a minute left and no timeouts remaining.
Stratford coach John Svatik then made a quarterback switch of his own, bringing in southpaw Mike Cannata to run the offense for the first time Thursday.
“Mike is pretty good in that situation,” Svatik said.
Cannata drove the Red Devils into Bulldog territory with three straight completions to Gueber Docteur. Then Cannata hit Mar’quess Daniels to get inside Bunnell’s 20-yard line in the final seconds.
But Stratford was penalized for having too many men on the field on the final play, setting up Kodnia 5 yards further back against the wind.
“I have no idea why (that happened). We work on that every day, special teams,” Svatik said.
A scuffle broke out between the two teams immediately after the game ended. Order was quickly restored.
“I don’t know what happened, but it has to be addressed on everybody’s part,” Svatik said. “I’ve been doing it for 38 years. That’s not the way the game is supposed to be played, that’s not the way the game is supposed to end. … I’m happy with the effort of our kids during the game. I’m not happy with what transpired after the game.”
It was the seventh straight win in the series for Bunnell, which scored its only other touchdown in the second quarter on a 46-yard touchdown pass from Aurelia to Zhyaire Fernandes.
Luke Amiot’s 24-yard interception return for a touchdown on Bunnell’s next possession put Stratford ahead 10-6, a lead the Red Devils maintained until Teel’s touchdown.
Bunnell 12, Stratford 10
S—Kyle Kodnia 26 FG
B—Zhyaire Fernandes 46 pass from Nolan Aurelia (kick failed)
S—Luke Amiot 24 int ret (Kodnia kick)
B—Devante Teel 3 pass from Adam Wojenski (pass failed)
Team records: Stratford 3-8; Bunnell 4-7