WINSTED >> With no time left on the clock and down one the Avon Falcons lined up after a last-second touchdown to go for a two-point conversion and the win. Quarterback Noah Hahn took the snap, rolled to the left and threw to running back James Murphy, but Gilbert/Northwestern’s Seth Dayton jumped the route, making the interception to seal the 34-33 win for the Yellowjackets.
The win improves them to 4-0 in the Pequot Conference’s West Division and one step closer to the division championship.
“Today was Seth’s game. He played the ball to make the interception to put us in position to win the West Division,” said Yellowjackets head coach Scott Salius. “Two points, they win they win it and we don’t win the division.”
After the Falcons marched down the field, scoring on a Hahn one-yard touchdown run, coach Jim Caouette decided to send his offense back out on the field to win the game, something Caouette had already decided before the touchdown.
“There was no doubt that we would go for it, I told my coach that we would go for two if we scored,” he said. “If we went to overtime we would have had to stop (Northwestern running back Tony) Ortiz again.”
The Yellowjackets defense knew that they would try to get the ball to Murphy so they set up to double team him.
“I had the inside and Seth had the outside,” said Ortiz. “Thank God Seth was there to make a great play.”
“I saw him (Murphy) come to my side and I saw he (Hahn) looked right to my side, I knew it was coming to Murphy and when I saw that I jumped the route,” said Dayton, who was still holding on to the ball well after the game.
The interception was just one part of Dayton’s day, where he had a 52-yard touchdown reception and a one-yard touchdown run.
The Yellowjackets, who have been known to start games off sluggishly, started out slow, but its defense kept them in the game only allowing six points in the first quarter and kept the Falcons out of the end zone until the Yellowjackets offense go started.
In the second quarter, Ortiz broke for a 56-yard touchdown run and the Yellowjackets offense was off scoring 27 unanswered points, giving them a 27-6 lead in the middle of the third quarter.
Avon then began to mount its comeback, after trading touchdowns with the Yellowjackets, they scored 21 straight points to set up the chance to win the game with the two-point conversion.
The Yellowjackets defense was able to contain Murphy, the catalyst for the Falcons, holding him to six-yards of total offense in the first half.
“We had no run game, we couldn’t execute in the first half,” he said. “They were gap blitzing and I had to bounce outside.”
In the second half Murphy was able to get free of Yellowjackets would be tacklers, totaling 173-yards in the second half along, including a 69-yard touchdown catch and run,
Salius on the sideline was yelling to his team “hug him like you love him” to get his team to wrap up Murphy instead of trying to just arm tackle him.
“We worked all week, we told them don’t tackle him high, we got to get his legs, cannot hit him with just shoulder pads,” Salius said. “In the first half we did a great job of tackling.”
Even though they won, Salius felt bad that after the performance Murphy had, that he went home on the losing end.
“I feel bad that he lost,” he said. “I’ll praise Jimmy Murphy all day. I love my team but I’d take an entire team of Jimmy’s, he doesn’t stop.”
The loss for Avon, who is now 5-3, pretty much ends its chances for making the postseason.
“We couldn’t make the plays,” said Murphy a senior who said he is looking to continue to play football in college. “But it’s not the end for me.”
With the win, the Yellowjackets (6-1) all but officially lock up the West Division championship, with the only games remaining against West Division opponents are Nonnewaug (2-5) and Housatonic/Wamogo (0-7).
Gilbert/Northwestern 34 Avon 33
Gilbert/Northwestern 0 20 7 7 – 34
Avon 6 0 6 21 – 33
A – 31-yard pass from Noah Hahn to Stephen Griffin (kick no good).
GN – 56-yard run by Tony Ortiz (Joe Columbie kick good).
GN – 52-yard pass from John Lippincott to Seth Dayton (kick no good).
GN – 6-yard run by Matt Nieves (Joe Columbie kick good).
GN – 1-yard run by Seth Dayton (Joe Columbie kick good).
A – 7-yard pass from Noah Hahn to Dylan Marquis (two-point try no good).
GN – 1-yard run by Tony Ortiz (Joe Columbie kick good).
A – 30-yard pass from Noah Hahn to Dylan Marquis (Two-point pass from Hahn to Marquis is good).
A – 69-yard pass from Noah Hahn to James Murphy (John Burdick kick good).
A – 1-yard run by Noah Hahn (Two-point no good).
Passing: GN – John Lippincott 6-11, 135-yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions. A – Noah Hahn, 13-21, 202-yards, 4 touchdowns.
Rushing: GN – Tony Ortiz 23 for 158-yards, 2 touchdowns; John Lippincott 12 for 19; Matt Nieves 4 for 9-yards, 1 touchdown; Seth Dayton 5 for 5-yards, 1 touchdown. A – James Murphy 11 for 84-yards; Stephen Griffin 3 for 14-yards; Teddy Allmendinger 5 for 13-yards; Dylan Marquis 1 for 7-yards; Noah Hahn 8 for -2-yards, one touchdown.
Receiving: GN – Seth Dayton 3 catches for 62-yards; one touchdown; Ben Schiffer 1 catch for 54-yard; Paxton Lewis-Franklin 1 for 9-yard; Nick Pedrolini 1 for 6-yard. A – James Murphy 5 catches for 113-yards, 1 touchdown; Dylan Marquis 3 catches for 41-yards, 2 touchdowns; Stephen Griffin 2 catches for 32-yards, one touchdowns; Justin Reichler 2 for 21-yards.
Records: Gilbert/Northwestern 6-1, Avon 5-3