BEACON FALLS >> In a week of turmoil on where and when the Torrington/Woodland football game would be played, it all came down to one yard at Woodland High School Thursday afternoon.
Torrington’s line held on a Woodland two-point try in overtime. The Red Raiders walked away with a 28-27 win.
“It came down to one play. I said ‘Go get it done,’” said second-year Torrington coach Gaitan Rodriguez. “It’s the first time we’ve stepped up really big since I’ve been here.”
“I called the same play we scored on earlier,” said first-year head coach Tim Phipps. Joe Poeta converted early in the fourth quarter to set up the regulation tie.
This time, it was different.
“I knew we had to get down and dirty; I knew they were going to that side,” said Raider junior tackle Stefan LaForge.
This time, he stopped Poeta at the one.
Long before that, the drama, like the decision on where and when to play, built slowly.
The game was at Woodland High School because logistics caved in on Torrington’s plan to play a scheduled home game at Torrington’s Middle School Football field. The game was changed to Thursday afternoon because Woodland’s field lights had been knocked out by lightning.
The list of mis-haps carried through to Red Raider quarterback Connor Finn’s first play from scrimmage – an interception by Woodland.
Nevertheless, if the decision to play at Woodland straightened itself out, so did Finn.
Woodland, the Class S runner-up last year, went four plays-and-out in its first possession.
Finn (16-for-26, 176 yards), starting on his own 17-yard-line, hit Tyler Marens on a short third-down screen pass out of the backfield.
Marens, a 5-6, 145-pound junior, ran it 49 yards.
The drive stalled at the Woodland 40. Torrington kicker P.J. Kilmartin, a huge Raider force all day, put the Hawks at their own 20.
Torrington recovered a fumble right there, driving to a 6-0 lead on a 12-yard pass, Finn to Zak Mancini.
Kilmartin hit the first of his four points-after for the day.
Mike Kenney, a running back last year, is this year’s Woodland quarterback after graduation hit the Hawks hard.
Kenney was 0-for-5 on first-quarter pass attempts, but he and junior Dave Bobbie (12 carries, 64 yards) came alive on the ground.
Early in the second quarter, Bobbie ran for 25 yards; Kenney 18 carries, 84 yards) got his keeper going for three plus a 10-yard pass to Jason Rodrigues.
A Torrington penalty gave Dave Poeta (8 carries, 17 yards) a four-yard assignment for the touchdown.
The kick missed; Torrington clung to its 7-6 lead at the half.
“The first half was a little slow. The second half heated up to a great high school football game,” said Phipps.
“We just had to keep going,” said Marens.
Marens was good for 25 rushing yards in the third quarter, along with a 24-yard Finn pass to Flavian Moya. With 2:41 left in the period, Marens rolled up the last five yards for a 14-6 Torrington lead with the Kilmartin kick.
Kenney was back for a score on a keeper early in the fourth. Poeta tied it 14-14 on a two-point conversion run.
Three minutes from the end of regulation, Kenney was in the end zone again on a three-yard keeper. Sophomore Lauren Charette nailed the kick, 21-14.
With the clock running out, Marens ran 16 yards, Finn passed to Mancini for 7.
With 28 seconds left, Finn stood at the Woodland 18-yard-line, fourth-down-and-game.
Finn looked for the pass, then took off across an open field.
“It was supposed to be a pass to the right,” said the second-yard junior starter. “If it’s not there, I know I can make a few yards. I got great blocks from Ben Bonvicini, then Manny Rijo at the goal line.”
Finn chugged all 18 yards for the tie with another Kilmartin kick.
Football overtime is similar to soccer penalty kicks. Each team has four downs to score from the 10-yard line. They keep trading possessions until someone misses.
Woodland won the toss, electing defense for the first try.
Finn threw four yards to Rijo, then six to sophomore Moya for the score, with a Kilmartin point-after.
“We just kept having the hope, the heart and the willpower,” said Moya.
But now it was up to his defense.
Woodland’s Rodrigues ran for 5; Kenney kept for another 3; Poeta ran hard at the hole on the right side.
LaForge, a 5-10, 240-pound wall, knew he was coming. Poeta got just to the one.
“We’re always talking about making your own memories,” said Raider coach Rodriquez. “This one will last for 10, 20, 30 years.”
Torrington 28, Woodland 27 (OT)
At Woodland High School
Torrington 7 0 7 7 7 – 28
Woodland 0 6 0 15 6 – 27
T – Connor Finn 12-yard pass to Zak Mancini (P.J. Kilmartin kick)
W – Joe Poeta 4-yard run (kick failed)
T – Tyler Marens 5-yard run (Kilmartin kick)
W – Mike Kenney 1-yard run (Poeta run)
W – Kenney 3-yard run (Lauren Charette kick)
T – Finn 18-yard run (Kilmartin kick)
T – Finn 6-yard pass to Flavian Moya (Kilmartin kick)
W – Poeta 2-yard run (coversion failed)
Rushing: T – Connor Finn 6 carries/16 yards; Tyler Marens 19/77; Ignacio Reynoso 2/8.
W – Joe Poeta 8 carries/17 yards; Dave Bobbie 12/64; Mike Kenney 18/84; Jason Rodrigues 7/21;
Passing: T – Connor Finn 16-for-26/176 yards.
W – Mike Kenney 5-for-12/55 yards.
Receiving: T – Tyler Marens 4 receptions/66 yards; Zak Mancini 8/60; Flavian Moya 4/27; Landry Rogers 1/4; Manny Rijo 1/4.
W – Jason Rodrigues 1 reception/10 yards; Connor Shaw 3/30; Dylan Abarzua 1/15.
Records: Torrington 1-1; Woodland 1-1.