MIDDLETOWN — North Haven coach Tony Sagnella had a plan for overtime with Xavier.
“I told the kids that if we won the toss we’d defer,” he said. “I told them I didn’t care if they scored. If they did, so what? I went on to tell them we would score on our possession — I didn’t think they could stop us in four plays from the 10 — and we’d go for the two-point conversion, make it, and win the game.”
He deferred. Xavier scored on Ty Abrahams 10-yard run and Sam Norris kicked the point. North Haven then scored — on a fourth-and-goal, 1-yard run by Zach Orth — and proceeded to do exactly what their coach said they would. Mark Montano scored on the ensuing 2-point conversion run to win a dramatic, 50-49, Southern Connecticut Conference game played in front of 1,500 at Larry McHugh Field Saturday evening.
“I wasn’t going to get in a shootout with the kid,” said Sagnella, referring to Xavier quarterback and Penn State commit Will Levis. “I didn’t think we could stop him. He’s tremendous.”
With Xavier trailing 27-0 with 7:31 left in the third quarter, Levis went to work. In a dazzling 16-for-18 second-half passing performance good for 373 yards, Levis brought Xavier all the way back as the Falcons scored four touchdowns in seven minutes, 36 seconds to take a stunning 28-27 lead.
But North Haven had a quarterback of its own named Montano. His passing numbers didn’t match up with Levis’ numbers, but his overall performance did. Montano ran for 134 yards on 25 carries and completed three of six passes for 91 yards.
As much as Levis was unstoppable, so was Montano — especially in the second half.
He returned the second-half kickoff 95 yards to give his team a 21-0 lead. Later, after Xavier took the 28-27 lead, Montano led his team on a seven-play, 71-yard drive that culminated in Montano’s 4-yard TD run. He then threw a two-point conversion pass to Steve Erbe for a 35-28 lead.
Levis tied the game at 35 with a five-yard TD pass to Alex Kulasenski (four catches, 54 yards). But Montano gave his team a 42-35 lead with a 15-yard run with 3:16 to play.
Again, Levis led the Falcons back, covering 62 yards in just 77 seconds, hitting Kolesenski from 12 yards out to tie 42-42 with 1:55 to play, sending the game into overtime.
“We knew it would be a big game,” Montano said. “In the first half our defense was phenomenal. We had two weeks to prepare because of the bye week, so we were ready. But in the end, we did what coach said we would do in overtime. And the blocking on the overtime touchdown and conversion was awesome.”
Levis’ final numbers were off the charts. He completed 24-of-37 passes for 467 yards and he ran for 45 more.
He threw a touchdown pass to Danny Taylor (four catches, 128 yards) from 45 yards out to get Xavier on the board in the third. After a fumble recovery by Ryan Cartelli, Levis hit Kyle MacGillis (four catches, 93 yards) on a 40-yard bomb to cut the lead to 27-14.
After holding the Indians to a three-and-out, Levis then ran for a 7-yard TD with 1:33 remaining in the third, cutting the lead to 27-21.
Xavier recovered another fumble and Levis connected with MacGillis on a 45-yard completion. Two plays later, Abrahams scored on a 3-yard run and, with Norris’ kick, the Falcons led 28-27 with 11:55 to play in regulation.
“That was an amazing performance by Levis,” Xavier coach Andy Guyon said. “I feel heartbroken for him. He left everything on the field. We made a ton of offensive plays in the second half and our kids fought. But in the end, they executed and we didn’t.”
Xavier (3-4) finished with 534 yards offense with Levis accounting for all but 22 of them. North Haven had 413 yards, but had a huge edge in rushing yards, picking up 322 to Xavier’s 67. Orth ran 22 times for 98 yards for the Indians.
The loss eliminated the Falcons from any realistic chance at the Class LL playoffs.
North Haven 50, Xavier 49 OT
NORTH HAVEN 7 7 13 15 8 — 50
XAVIER 0 0 21 21 7 — 49
- NH–Devan Brockamer 46 run (Chase DeCarlo kick)
- NH–Zach Orth 1 run (DeCarlo kick)
- NH–Mark Montano 95 kickoff return (DeCarlo kick)
- NH–Noah Pastore 1 run (kick failed)
- X–Danny Taylor 45 pass from Will Levis (Sam Norris kick)
- X–Kyle Macgillis 40 pass from Levis (Norris kick)
- X–Levis 7 run (Norris kick)
- X–Tyrone Abrahams 3 run (Norris kick)
- NH–Montano 4 run (Steve Erbe pass from Montano)
- X–Alex Kulasenski 5 pass from Levis (Norris kick)
- NH–Montano 15 run (DeCarlo kick)
- X–Kulasenski 12 pass from Levis (Norris kick)
- X–Abrahams 10 run (Norris kick)
- NH–Orth 1 run (Montano run)
- Team records: North Haven 5-2, Xavier 3-4.