WINSTED — Gilbert/Northwestern walked away with a 22-21 win in a game for the ages ultimately decided on the strength of two field goals — one made and one missed at Van Why Field in Winsted Saturday afternoon.
“That was a football game,” said G/N coach Scott Salius, whose Yellowjackets moved up to 2-2 with the win. “Both teams battled on both sides of the ball. This is what a high school football game should be.”
OSW coach Mike Marone moved 6-foot 225-pound iron man Cooper Pavlovich, an All-State linebacker, from center to running back on offense to make up for lack of yardage in the Rams’ 1-3 start.
Pavlovich, with the speed to catch up with a breakaway Yellowjacket receiver on a completion by G/N quarterback Anthony Carfiro (7-for-14, 133 yards), bulled his way for 111 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries.
But this was a game in which one player couldn’t win it.
“It took 11 guys on both sides of the ball,” said Salius. “Every play counted.”
A crunching scoreless first period drove his point home early. Marone claimed Pavlovich “made every major tackle” on defense. Salius gave the same kind of credit to lineman Dylan Keith.
“Dylan Keith is a player,” said Salius. “All game, (the Rams) called audibles at the line to run away from his side.”
Nevertheless, in a unique style in which OSW quarterback Jack McDowell and Pavlovich often hit the line together in a handoff, with Pavlovich running or blocking, the Rams started moving near the end of the first quarter.
Starting at the G/N 48, Pavlovich rumbled for 20 yards. Five plays later, Edward Fernandez ran it in from the G/N 12.
G/N’s Marco Folino took the kickoff back to the Rams’ 35-yard line. An OSW personal foul added 15 more yards.
Last week, in the Yellowjacket win over Haddam-Killingworth, quarterback Anthony Carfiro found his passing touch with a quicker release. Saturday, he added scrambling to his repertoire — hitting Ryan VanDyke on a third-down pass after a holding penalty moved G/N backward.
“It was a rollout and I’m not really too good at the running part,” said Carfiro against evidence to the contrary.
The pass was enough to set up senior Josh Hamel, one of the state’s best kickers, for a 35-yard field goal with room to spare.
35 yard, right hash. With a 22-21 win over old saybrook pic.twitter.com/2GIVniJiwe
— Josh Hamel (@JoshHamel6) October 13, 2019
But, in a game like this, the Division I kicking prospect was prouder of making a touchdown-saving tackle on special teams.
“I got to make a tackle,” said Hamel, kept out of the regular defense for fear of injury.
Trailing 7-3, G/N’s defense and Carfiro’s arm owned the rest of the second quarter. With the help of a deep Hamel kickoff, the defense stalled the Rams at their own 30-yard line. Following a punt by Pavlovich, Carfiro scrambled for a 22-yard pass to VanDyke, then 24 more to Chase Sanden. A 13-yard run by Hunter Sanden set up Carfiro for a one-yard scoring keeper, 10-7.
McDowell took to the air in the third quarter with a 30-yard pass to Will Bergeron. Pavlovich, the do-everything man for the Rams, bulled the final two yards in their scoring drive and kicked the extra point.
On the next play from scrimmage, Hunter Sanden ran 62 yards to take back the lead, 16-14.
McDowell hit Bergeron for 70 yards, then capped the drive with the final eight yards, 21-16.
With 8:14 left in the final period, G/N lineman Richard Potvin recovered a Ram fumble, setting up a Yelllowjacket drive featuring a 27-yard counter play to Chase Sanden and a final six yards from Folino.
Leading 22-21, with 5:41 on the clock, the G/N defense held for all but the final 24 seconds. On fourth down, the Rams set up for a 31-yard field goal attempt by Pavlovich.
The kick went wide left. The game was in the books.