BRANFORD – Branford had trouble all night containing Amity quarterback Colin Beaulieu, but made one big stop in the final minute that made the difference.
Moments after Beaulieu (214 yards rushing) raced 62 yards to pull the Spartans within 28-27 with 56 seconds remaining, Amity elected to go for the two-point conversion and win the game. Beaulieu tried to run it in off left tackle but the Hornets’ defense stopped him a yard short as Branford held on for the 28-27 Southern Connecticut Conference intra-division victory Friday night at the James MacVeigh Alumni Athletic Complex.
“I thought we had the opportunity to win a ballgame,” Amity coach Ted Czepiga said after his team fell to 1-5. “I told the guys as soon as we scored, we’re going for two, but Branford made a hell of play on the goal line. It just didn’t work out in our favor tonight.”
Branford coach John Limone had to take a deep breath after that, but watched his defense make the big play on the conversion.
“That run (to make it 28-27) was their best play all night,” Limone said. “We were prepared for it all night, but they torched us a few times on it. But there were three yards between us and a loss (on the conversion).”
Beaulieu had moved to quarterback for the Spartans two weeks ago after injuries forced Amity to play Paul Buda on defense instead of under center.
“Colin’s a great player,” Czepiga said. “We had a couple injuries and we asked him to move there.”
On the scoreboard, the contest was a battle between Beaulieu and Branford’s Dalton Carden, who scored three touchdowns and had 164 yards rushing of his own.
“The line blocked well for me and gave me enough yards to run and break free,” Carden said.
Throughout the game, the teams exchanged touchdowns. Branford went ahead 6-0 on a Jackson Seward one-yard run late in the first quarter. Two plays later, Beaulieu scored the first of his 4 touchdowns, scooting in from five yards out to make it 6-6.
Carden scored the first of his three touchdown midway through the second quarter to give Branford 14-6 edge at intermission.
But Beaulieu scored on the first drive of the third quarter, this time from 22 yards out. With Ryan Sabo connecting with Nile Ellis for the conversion pass, it was 14-14.
From there, Carden (2 and 31 yards) and Beaulieu (49 and 62 yards) exchanged rushing scores, leading to the final minute.
“They were a little more physical than we were,” Czepiga said. “They stuck with their horse and their horse won.”
Branford improved to 4-2 and with four winnable games left could get to eight wins and a possible CIAC Class M playoff spot.
“We’re not even thinking about that. It’s just one game at a time,” Limone said. “We’ve been 0-6 at this point, so it certainly feels good to be 4-2. I’d rather be an ugly 4-2 than a pretty 0-6.”
Branford 28, Amity 27
Amity 6 0 15 6 0 — 27
Branford 6 8 7 7 0 — 28
B—Jackson Seward 1 run (kick failed)
A—Colin Beaulieu 5 run (kick blocked)
B—Dalton Carden 1 run (Griffin Lynch run)
A—Colin Beaulieu 22 run (Nile Ellis pass from Ryan Sabo)
B—Dalton Carden 2 run (Jay Dering kick)
A—Colin Beaulieu 49 run (Jordan Conn kick)
B—Dalton Carden 31 run (Jay Dering kick)
A—Colin Beaulieu 62 run (run failed)
Team records: Branford 4-2; Amity 1-5