WALLINGFORD — After losing 16 straight games, Lyman Hall now has a winning streak.
The Trojans (2-6) needed overtime to get it done Friday night, winning its second consecutive outing with a 24-21 victory over Branford at Fitzgerald Field.
“It’s the first win for me on our home field, so this one is more special than last week,” second-year Lyman Hall coach Rob Marone said. “I played here and this school means so much to me.”
But it wasn’t easy.
The Lyman Hall defense had to come up big numerous times in order to get Marone that win. And the biggest play of them all came in the overtime session when Stephen Grammatico picked off a Devan Hall pass on third down at the goal line.
“He’s had a few big picks,” Marone said. “He’s a ballhawk and a big-time player. When the game is on the line, the kid is in the right spot.”
Branford coach John Limone said, “It was a sprint route, which was good to us all night, but they made a play. He ran the ball well on the rollout, but they had us covered and they made the play.”
Lyman Hall then took the conservative route and ran the ball down to the Branford 3-yard line, setting up sophomore kicker John Witik for a 20-yard field goal to win the game. After Limone called timeout to try and ice Witik, he calmly kicked the ball right down the middle in between the uprights to seal the victory.
“I wasn’t concerned (when they called timeout),” Marone said. “I wasn’t even thinking about it. It’s the first time he’s been in that situation, but he made his kicks last week and all of them earlier tonight. Right now, the kid is clutch.”
The teams exchanged touchdown runs in the first half and were tied at 14-14 at intermission.
Carl Williams had a pair of 3-yard scampers for touchdowns for Branford, while Koby Mensah (14 carries for 120 yards) added a 6-yard touchdown run and Justin Brown a 1-yard jaunt for the other Trojans score.
After a scoreless third quarter, Lyman Hall took its first lead when Mensah raced 85 yards down the right sideline untouched to make it 21-14.
“That was an incredible run, but we had big blocks all over the place,” Marone said. “We were in trips formation with three receivers and everyone got on their blocks.”
“That took the wind out of our sails,” Limone said.
However, Branford bounced back with 6:31 to play when quarterback Devan Hall raced into the end zone from 13 yards out to tie it at 21-21.
Besides the overtime interception, Branford was hurt by its inability to convert in the red zone in the second half. The Hornets reached Lyman Hall’s 20, 10 and 13 yard lines, but failed to score each time.
“We came up short in the red zone,” Limone said. “You can’t do that and expect to win a game. But I have to give credit to Lyman Hall. They played their butts off.”
The Hornets remained winless in seven outings.
“This one just hurts,” Limone said. “We felt that we matched up well with them and had a great chance coming in. We played hard and it’s a step in the right direction.”