BLOOMFIELD >> Cromwell/Portland held an eight point lead over defending Class S champion Bloomfield with less than two minutes to play and all Panthers senior Kristian Sapp wanted to do was get a first down. Instead, Sapp got a terrific block, burst through an opening and raced 67 yards for a touchdown.
It was that kind of the night for the Cromwell/Portland football team.
The Panthers (10-1) stunned No. 3 Bloomfield (10-1), 28-14, in the Class S quarterfinals Tuesday night at Bloomfield High School.
No. 6 Cromwell/Portland advanced to play at No. 2 Ansonia (11-0) in the semifinals on Monday, Dec. 5 at 6:30 p.m.
“The good thing is we have practice tomorrow and anytime the season continues is a great thing,” Cromwell/Portland coach Chris Eckert said. “We’re playing pretty darn good football and we’re just happy to keep going.”
Sapp finished with 269 yards rushing on 23 carries and scored three touchdowns.
“It’s unbelievable,” Sapp said. “The seniors have never been to the playoffs before so this is our first win.”
Bloomfield entered the contest riding a 23-game winning streak.
“Cromwell did a great job,” Warhawks coach Tylon Outlaw said. “This is hard one. We’re not used to losing. When you’ve been winning so much, it’s hard to keep telling your guys there’s a possibility that we might lose. You have to fight as hard as you can on every play. I thought we did that in the second half but it was just a little too late.”
The Panthers, who were coming off a Thanksgiving Eve loss against Rocky Hill, set the tone on the game’s opening drive. Cromwell marched 65 yards on eight plays and took an 8-0 lead on a senior Jon Siena’s 10-yard touchdown run and Sapp’s 2-point conversion tally.
The Warhawks first possession ended with Panthers lineman Austin Ramberose sacking quarterback Dexter Lawson, Jr. for a 10-yard loss.
Bloomfield committed three costly turnovers, including a fumble at the goal-line that was recovered by Panthers linebacker Kittrell Lauray early in the second quarter.
“It was a rough start for us,” Outlaw said. “You can’t make all these mental mistakes when you’re going against good teams.”
Sapp’s 24-yard touchdown run with just 48 seconds left in the second quarter gave the Pequot Conference champion Panthers a 16-0 halftime lead.
Sapp’s third touchdown came on a 33-yard run on the last play of the third quarter, stretching the Panthers lead to 22-0.
Cromwell/Portland did a terrific job containing Bloomfield’s Syracuse-bound wide receiver Russell Thompson-Bishop with constant double coverage.
The Warhawks were finally able to get Thompson-Bishop the ball early in the fourth quarter and it sparked its first scoring drive, which was capped by a 1-yard touchdown plunge from Ky’Juon Butler.
Bloomfield added another touchdown on its next possession with Lawson, Jr. scrambling into the end zone from five yards out to make it 22-14 with 2:54 left to play.
“Our kids fought back and played hard,” Outlaw said.
But Sapp deflated the Warhawks momentum with a scintillating touchdown run and senior end Ethan Roy capped Cromwell’s huge win by sacking Lawson, Jr. in the waning seconds.
Panthers junior receiver Dianta Highsmith caught three passes for 65 yards from quarterback Liam Coleman. Highsmith also had an interception.
“Our guys in the trenches did a great job and they couldn’t contain our skill guys,” Eckert said. “We had a great game plan by our coaches and the kids executed it exceptionally. I’m very proud of them.”
Cromwell/Portland 28, Bloomfield 14
Cromwell/Portland 8 8 6 6 — 28
Bloomfield 0 0 0 14 — 14
C/P—Jon Sienna 10 run (Kristian Sapp run)
C/P—Kristian Sapp 24 run (Sapp run)
C/P—Kristian Sapp 33 run (run failed)
B—Ky’Juon Butler 1 run (Terrelle Robbins pass from Dexter Lawson)
B—Dexter Lawson 1 run (pass failed)
C/P—Kristian Sapp 67 run (run failed)
Team records: Cromwell/Portland 10-1; Bloomfield 10-1