SEYMOUR — The scoreboard at DeBarber Field was broken all Thursday night. The clock read all zeroes. And meanwhile, Seymour and Ansonia played the kind of football game in which it felt as if one team was just going to run out of time.
That team was Seymour, in the end, falling one drive short in a punch-counterpunch kind of night. No. 8 Ansonia won a tight NVL game for the second week in a row, beating the Wildcats 35-32.
Shykeem Harmon ran for 335 yards and four touchdowns on 28 carries in what coach Tom Brockett called one of the best games of the senior’s career. He had three touchdowns of 29 yards or more. He had three other long apparent scores called back for penalties.
And still, Seymour wouldn’t go away. After Harmon’s fourth touchdown gave the Chargers a 10-point lead with just under four minutes left, Ethan Hamilton ran the kickoff back 75 yards.
— Michael Fornabaio (@fornabaioctp) November 15, 2019
“Every time that they got some points on the board, our offense responded, or our special teams responded,” Seymour coach Mike Kearns said. “They kept us in the game. They did a great job. Hats off to Ansonia. It’s never easy to lose that way, but it was a great game for both teams.”
Twice, Harmon scored on the first play from scrimmage after a Seymour touchdown. He might’ve scored a fifth touchdown in the last two minutes, but he slid down at the Seymour 4 knowing the Wildcats were out of time outs.
Ansonia (9-0) unofficially clinched the second of eight playoff spot in Class S. Bullard-Havens secured the first last week.
Seymour (6-3) came into the game ranked eighth in points in Class S but dropped to 11th, and it’ll likely need a win over Woodland on the night before Thanksgiving and help to get into the playoffs. It’s hardly a time of year for moral victories, but the Wildcats gave Ansonia a battle.
“This is definitely a (Seymour) team that should be in the playoffs,” Harmon said. “This is a really good team. They never stop playing hard.”
Ansonia has played the same way the past couple of weeks, Brockett said; the Chargers survived Woodland 26-20 last week at Nolan Field.
“We’ve played hard, but we haven’t played well,” Brockett said. “We’ve never committed penalties like we have this year. It’s a real, real issue right now.”
The Chargers committed eight penalties for 55 yards on Thursday, a week after committing 12 for 67 against the Hawks.
Despite two penalties on a drive to end the first quarter, Ansonia broke on top to start the second quarter. Harmon’s first touchdown made it 13-0, and in most Ansonia games over the past decade the rout might’ve been on.
With tonight’s wild 35-32 victory over Seymour, ANSONIA has punched its Class S playoff tickets.
This is the Chargers’ 14th-consecutive state playoff berth and 39th overall! #cthsfb pic.twitter.com/qBmO6Cq1qO
— GameTimeCT (@GameTimeCT) November 15, 2019
Seymour came back with a couple of long Kevin Harmeling passes, the second to Matt Oczkowski for a 33-yard touchdown, and the fight was on instead.
Seymour never led, but it trailed 21-18, then 27-25, then by three at the end.
“It kind of shows how much we’ve grown,” said first-year coach Kearns, whose team had won three in a row, including an overtime win over Naugatuck last week. “There are no moral victories in football. I think we took some positive steps. We’ve competed with the best of the best.”
“Best-case scenario, putting up points on Ansonia, keeping up with them, that’s pretty solid. Would’ve been nicer with a win.”
Ansonia hadn’t given up 32 points in a regular-season game since 2014, a 61-35 win at St. Paul, and only once since then in the playoffs, the 42-36 loss to St. Joseph in the 2017 Class S final.
“We were poor on defense. Really now back-to-back weeks we didn’t play well at all,” Brockett said. “Credit Seymour. They came right after us, real, real hard. We need to improve on defense real, real fast. You need to run to the ball. You need to do your assignment. We did not do a good job of that tonight.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Ansonia’s Shykeem Harmon ran 28 times, and it seemed on every one as if he might break loose to score. “It’s part my vision, and it’s part my O-line. I know I couldn’t do it without them,” he said. “Without them, we’d be nothing.”
He called them out by name, adding, at junior right tackle Jake Tackach, “that’s my guy right there.”
Kevin Harmeling ran 24 times for Seymour for 97 yards and two touchdowns, and he threw for 160 yards on 7-for-10 passing, with a touchdown pass to Matt Oczkowski.
Recycled from last week: Ansonia has defeated 94 NVL opponents in a row now, back to Thanksgiving 2010, a 38-20 Naugatuck win. This is only the fourth time in that streak that the final score was within six points.
“It’s just a really good confidence boost going into the playoffs, because we’ve got to be ready.” —Ansonia’s Shykeem Harmon, on winning two close games in a row