HIGGANUM >> Haddam-Killingworth scored 26 unanswered points in the second half and rallied past Coginchaug, 33-22, in a Pequot Conference contest Thursday night at Haddam-Killingworth High School.
Cougars senior Noah Vinci scored three touchdowns, senior quarterback Jon Grasso tossed a pair of TDs and senior Alex Segaline had a game-high 126 yards rushing with one touchdown while leading H-K to its first win of the season.
Vinci finished with 111 yards on 17 carries and junior Jake Frith had 106 yards on seven attempts, giving H-K’s double-wing attack three 100-yard rushers.
“Before the game I said we needed to control the ball and win the turnover battle,” H-K coach Mike Baklik said. “We haven’t done that earlier in the season. I’m glad the kids got a win under their belt now. It’s good to have this momentum going through the bye week. It will boost their spirits.”
Coginchaug (1-3) was led by senior running back Rick Sorensen, who gained 77 yards on 12 carries with one touchdown; junior quarterback Ryan Cross, who was 12 of 16 passing for 123 yards; and sophomore receiver Elijah Rivera, who caught five passes for 43 yards.
“The kids played hard,” Coginchaug coach Steve Croce said. “We played well in the first half. But H-K made the plays and we didn’t. That’s the bottom line.”
Sorensen’s 19-yard TD run and Cross’ nifty 28 yard scoring run gave the Blue Devils a 14-7 halftime lead.
Coginchaug opened the second half with a 10-play, 60 yard scoring march. Junior quarterback Anthony Curry capped the drive with a 1-yard sneak to give the Blue Devils a 22-7 advantage with 7:05 left in the third quarter.
H-K answered with a 79 yard drive, highlighted by Frith’s 41-yard run and Segaline’s two-yard TD plunge to make it 22-13.
The Blue Devils fumbled the ensuing kick-off – the ball was recovered by H-K senior Tyler Rettberg – and on the next play Grasso found Rettberg, who recovered after bobbling the ball, with a 25 yard scoring toss to close the gap to 22-19 late in the third quarter.
“I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a bobbled ball then caught so low to the ground and then to stay on his feet and find the end zone,” Baklik added. “Rettberg made an outstanding play.”
The Cougars (1-3) took the lead early in the fourth quarter. Segaline raced 50 yards to set H-K up at the Coginchaug 11-yard line. Three plays later, Grasso rolled to his right and threw a perfect TD pass to Vinci to give H-K a 27-22 lead.
“There’s a lot of things we can do out of the double-wing,” Baklik explained. “These kids haven’t played it in quite awhile and hopefully it’s starting to click.”
H-K took advantage of another Blue Devils fumble with junior Kevin Dougherty recovering the ball at the Coginchaug 15.
“We’re young and we make young mistakes,” Croce added. “But again that’s also no excuse because we’re in game four and you can’t be having those mistakes. We put on a clinic on how to lose the game in the second half.”
It looked like Coginchaug’s defense was going to make a stop but on a fourth-and-7, Vinci raced into the end zone on a nifty reverse to make it 33-22 with just 2:49 remaining.
“The kids picked it up in the fourth quarter so we were happy with that,” Baklik said. “The other positive tonight was the leadership from our seniors. I told the kids we need to continue to get better though out the season. We had a rough start. Hopefully, things will turn around for us.”
Haddam-Killingworth 33, Coginchaug 22
Coginchaug 0 14 8 0 — 22
Haddam-Killingworth 0 7 12 14 — 33
HK—Noah Vinci 3 run (Cody Ellex kick)
COG—Rick Sorensen 19 run (Ryan Cross pass to Bryan Shields)
COG-Ryan Cross 28 run (run failed)
COG—Anthony Curry 1 run (Sorensen run)
HK—Alex Segaline 2 run (run failed)COG—Anthony Curry 1 run (Sorensen run)
HK—Tyler Rettberg 25 pass from Jon Grasso (pass failed)
HK—Vinci 16 pass from Grasso (Vinci run)
HK-Vinci 12 run (kick failed)
Team records: Coginchaug 1-3; Haddam-Killingworth 1-3.