Welcome back to another edition of the GameTimeCT Plays of the Week.
Week 3 didn’t feature the same dramatics that had us falling off bleachers like Week 2. Instead, last week will go down as the week of disputed calls and angry fans.
O’Brien Tech was bit by a fumble recovery touchdown that wasn’t a fumble recovery touchdown. Notre Dame-West Haven is still crying foul on North Haven’s similar fumble-recovery touchdown in the first quarter of that game.
(We sympathize. But it only goes to prove that you’ve gotta play ’til the whistle, boys. Play ’til the whistle.)
All of those plays were game-changers. But given the controversial nature of the plays and the fact that they’ve been replayed to death, we won’t rehash them again here.
Besides, there were plenty of outstanding plays and milestone performances from last week that are worthy of attention.
We cheated again. We’re highlighting 12 plays this week because, this is our website. And, yes, they’re not all just one play. Some are moments. Deal with it.
Thanks to everyone from all across the state (welcome Plainville and E.O. Smith) for their submissions. The only one we didn’t get was Finn Cahill’s winning field goal for Conard in its 23-20 overtime victory over East Hartford. There’s a clip of the winner out there. Maybe we’ll post it in the honorable mention comments.
And finally, we did get a nice reel of great catches which we’ll be putting into its own honorable-mention highlight reel sometime later today. So stick around. UPDATE: It’s finished. See below.
Until then, here is your
Top 10 Top 12 PLAYS … OF … THE WEEK!
T10. Boltin’ Bolden
THE SCENE — Bacon Academy had never beaten Ledyard since it began as a football program in 2000. A week after a milestone victory over New London, Bacon had to immediately come back and face the Colonels, who have long been one of the ECC’s best programs.
Ledyard took an 8-0 lead, but Bacon Academy came back with two touchdowns in the second quarter for a 13-8 halftime lead.
THE PLAY –– After a Ledyard punt, Bacon Academy took over at its own 30. Quarterback Sean Kelly fired a short pass to junior Tyler Bolden, who had caught just one pass coming into the game. Bolden immediately deked his defender and bolted down the right sideline for a 70-yard touchdown and a 19-8 Bacon lead amid a wild celebration.
THE RESULT — The touchdown put Bacon in the driver’s seat and the Bobcats tacked on another touchdown late before holding on for the 25-22 victory. They’re 3-0.
T10. Carpenter’s Greatest Hits
THE SCENE — Newtown committed three turnovers trailed Brookfield 7-0 early in the first half of the SWC clash of heavyweights. The Hawks finally got on the scoreboard with a Ben Mason touchdown catch and the teams seemed to be headed for a 7-7 halftime.
THE PLAY — Then Ethan Carpenter showed up. Quarterback Justin Dunn scrambled away from a defender and threw a short pass to the senior receiver. Carpenter weaved and bobbed his way 70 yards for a touchdown and a 14-7 Newtown halftime lead.
On the Hawks’ second play from scrimmage in the second half — after a nifty catch by Jared Pearson — Dunn hit Carpenter in stride for a 65 yard touchdown and a 21-7 lead.
THE RESULT — The Hawks went into overdrive. They tacked on three more touchdown runs by Hunter Cobb and defeated Brookfield 42-14.
T10. The Best Team in Storrs
THE SCENE — E.O. Smith in Storrs has been one of the more surprising teams thus far in the 2015 CCC season. Long a doormat in the CCC, the Panthers haven’t had a winning season since 2005. They were so tantalizingly close to going 2-0 for the first time since then, but lost to Platt in overtime last week.
With Farmington in town, would it be the same-ole-same-ole for the Panthers and new coach James Kelly? When the Indians scored early in the fourth quarter to take a 20-17 lead, it looked like a familiar script.
THE PLAY — Ah, but this is a veteran and talented E.O. Smith squad. And senior Anthony Stigler might be the best of the bunch.
He proved it earlier with an 80-yard touchdown run in the first half. And he proved it again with an electric, 90-yard kickoff return touchdown to put the Panthers up for good. His burst of speed up the middle left every Farmington defender far back in his rearview mirror
THE RESULT — Smith tacked on a field goal by standout kicker Brandon Desautels and improved to 2-1 for the first time since 2005.
9. Marvelous Markeese
THE SCENE — Trumbull defeated Fairfield Ludlowe in its opening game and was looking to go 2-0 for the first time since 2011 when it kicked off at home vs. Westhill.
THE PLAY — Sophomore Markeese Woods took the kickoff and bolted up the middle for a 90-yard touchdown. He had a least three or four steps on every defender, save the kicker. Woods slowed make a deke and then took off again, making the last tackler miss for what looked like an easy touchdown.
THE RESULT — Westhill rallied to take the lead 21-20 on Aaron Pettiford’s 63 yard run. But Trumbull scored five unanswered touchdowns in the second half for the 54-21 victory. Woods finished with three touchdowns.
8. Double Team
THE SCENE — Foran was champing at the bit after a Week 2 bye. They faced SCC Division II rival Sheehan, which was looking for its first victory of the season.
THE PLAY — Foran didn’t waste much time getting on the scoreboard. But instead of its notorious offense doing the honors, it was a blocked punt by big Jordan Townsend and a scoop-n-score from teammate Matt Cruz, who followed Townsend’s lead block and weaved for the 55-yard touchdown.
THE RESULT — Foran went on to beat Sheehan 50-13 and improved to 2-0.
7. Pick Six Parade
THE SCENE — Thursday night football at Southern Connecticut State featured Hillhouse, looking to go 3-0 for the first time since 2008, playing Lyman Hall.
THE PLAYS — The Academics defense was relentless against the young Trojans, intercepting three passes for touchdowns in the first half. Leading 14-0, Terron Mallory picked off a pass and weaved 67 yards for the touchdown. In the second quarter, defensive lineman Kyle Wilkins jumped a screen pass and landed in the end zone for a 0-yard touchdown. Finally, Mallory’s brother Terrence got in on the action with an interception touchdown to give Hillhouse a 38-0 lead at halftime.
THE RESULT — The Academics went on to beat Lyman Hall 45-6 and head to West Haven 3-0 for the first time since 2008.
6. Best offense is a great defense
THE SCENE — Stunned, 7-6, by East Hartford the week before, New Britain was hoping to get its offense and its season back in gear when it faced Manchester in an intriguing CCC matchup.
But the offense was again sputtering and, with Manchester ahead 17-2 in the third quarter, the New Britain defense took matters into its own hands. The Hurricanes already recorded a safety in the first half, why not some touchdowns?
And so the defensive-offensive comeback began. Rafael Martinez returned a fumble three yards for a touchdown. Teammate Johnny Bravo, who’d been responsible for the safety, fell on another fumble for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to pull New Britain within 17-15.
THE PLAYS — The defensive play of the game, however, might have been late in the third quarter.
With the Indians threatening to break the game wide open, New Britain sophomore Jayshawn Alexandre followed Manchester’s Yamil Valdes to the corner of the end zone, leaped and — despite giving up a few inches to the 6-foot-2 senior receiver — somehow snatched the ball away for the interception and the touchback, keeping the Golden Hurricanes within striking distance.
Finally, New Britain’s offense showed up with 2 minutes remaining. Dajion Hill, who had thrown two interceptions (one that Manchester returned for a touchdown) and was benched in the middle of the game, was reinserted in the second half.
Facing third down and 8 at the Manchester 32, Hill stood tall in the pocket and fired a perfect pass to Ronnie Watson just before being leveled by Manchester’s pass rush. Watson collected the pass in stride and waltzed into the end zone for the winning touchdown with 1:48 left.
THE RESULT — Thanks to the defense and Hill’s late-game heroics, New Britain dodged a haymaker and improved to 2-1 as it heads into a huge game with 2-1 Conard.
5. Mancini’s Greatest Hits
THE SCENE — At 2-0, veteran Torrington had so far lived up to its preseason promises. But nothing seemed to be going right when it faced perennial NVL power Naugatuck at home in Week 3. The Raiders trailed 12-7 at halftime and, just as the third quarter began, Naugatuck’s sophomore quarterback Mike Plasky had just uncorked perfect strike to Jason Datil for an 18-7 lead.
Then, utter chaos and madness. Torrington embarked on an epic retaliation: A FIFTY-point second-half onslaught.
THE PLAY — At the center of it all was receiver Zack Mancini, who caught three consecutive touchdowns in the third quarter alone to put the Raiders up 29-18. He had some help by back-to-back Torrington kickoff recoveries that are typically the M.O. of coach Craig Bruno and Naugatuck. The outburst has to be seen to be believed.
THE RESULT — Torrington wasn’t finished. It started the fourth quarter with three consecutive touchdowns for a commanding 51-18 lead. The Raiders won 51-26 and improved to 3-0.
(As always, thanks to CPTV Sports for the use of their footage. Be sure to catch their games of the week.)
4. Dancin’ Dominic
THE SCENE — For the first few games of the 2015 season, Granby senior back Connor Field has been a human highlight reel. Just look at the previous two editions of Plays of the Week. But there’s a reason why we think Granby is a threat in the Class S playoffs: There’s plenty more exciting talent on the Bears’ roster.
THE PLAY — Quarterback Dominic Pagano proved that much against SMSA/University with this nifty, fife-tackle-dodging touchdown run to put Granby up 28-0 in the second quarter. It’s supposed to be an option, but SMSA’s defense has the play sniffed out and Pagano has to improvise.
He dodges four tacklers before he even cross the the line of scrimmage, doubles back and dodges one more for the 32-yard score.
THE RESULT — Granby Memorial is sitting pretty at 3-0, but its greater tests lay ahead.
3. By the tippy-tips of his tippy-toes
THE SCENE — Another Pequot darling team is Ellington, which also seems to find its way into the top 10 (it helps that they, like Granby, are big fans of Plays of the Week and send us their best stuff every week). The Knights are 3-0 after an impressive victory over previously unbeaten Cromwell/Portland.
This was their toughest game to date. Ellington had a 20-6 lead at halftime, but Cromwell/Portland rallied to get within a score twice in the third quarter on with touchdowns by Nelson Carlson and Kristian Sapp.
The game was still in doubt when Ellington was facing fourth and goal at the Cromwell 7, ahead 27-20 early in the fourth quarter.
THE PLAY — Well, what can you say about Mark Hickman other than that he’s clearly one of the best in the Pequot. The senior, who had just become the school’s all-time leading scorer on a 4-yard run in the third quarter, all but clinched the game with a marvelous, tightrope catch along the left end zone.
THE RESULT — The touchdown put Ellington ahead 34-20 and it went on to win by that final score. The Knights are 3-0 heading into a showdown with their old teammates (and coach) from Somers, which is now a co-op with Stafford and East Windsor, on Friday night.
H/T To John Holt of WFSB-3 who was right up close and personal on that play. Check his highlights here.
2. That Stings
THE SCENE — Hamden Hall played Kingswood-Oxford in West Hartford in a game that can only be described as — Whut? Like most entries that fall high on this list, the Hornets and Wyverns had a GONZO finish to their game.
Hamden Hall was ahead 42-28 with 2:52 remaining in the third quarter. But Kingswood-Oxford rallied to within 42-35 on a 58-yard catch by Isaiah Wright toward the end of the third quarter.
Then Hamden Hall decided to go for it on fourth down at their own 15. The Hornets failed and it was an easy 15-yard touchdown run for K-O’s Koby Quansah to pull the Wyverns to within 42-41 pending the extra point with 11:52 remaining.
That’s when more absurdity kicked in.
THE PLAYS — There were a quite a few. First Kevin Johns bulled through the middle and blocked the extra point to keep Hamden Hall ahead 42-41.
But on the ensuing kickoff, Hamden Hall fumbled the ball. Fortunately Andrew Natale was in the perfect spot. He scooped the loose ball ahead of a diving Kingswood-Oxford player and then bolted across the field, up the field and back across the middle for an 81-yard touchdown.
And, if that wasn’t crazy enough, Kyle Williams made a diving, bobbling catch of the 2-point conversion to put the Hornets up two scores, 50-41.
THE RESULT — So, only did Kingswood-Oxford fail to tie the game with a kick, but Hamden Hall swung the game eight points the other way. The Hornets eventually ran out the clock on a 50-48 victory.
1. This is for you, Granpa Magdon
THE SCENE — This is a sentimental pick, so bear with us.
Ansonia was well in command of Derby by the fourth quarter of the Valley rivals’ annual clash. The fourth quarter was all about running the clock out on what was then a 42-0 score in the fourth quarter. Most of the crowd had long gone or were on their way out. But the Chargers’ sideline was going nuts.
Seconds earlier Markell Dobbs, the younger brother of former Chargers’ great Montrell Dobbs, had busted loose for what looked to be an easy, 11-yard touchdown. But the sophomore pulled up and took a knee just before the goal line. Another sophomore was going to get to finish this final scoring drive.
Enter Jayme Tuttle, affectionately known as J.J., who is the grandson of former Fairfield Prep coach Rich Magdon, now an Ansonia assistant. Magdon had become a surrogate father for Tuttle.
Magdon wasn’t there. He was recovering from a heart attack suffered earlier in the week.
Tuttle and Ansonia had the perfect ‘Get Well’ card.
THE PLAY — Tuttle took over for Dobbs in the backfield, then took the handoff. He bulled forward and scored his first-career touchdown on the 1-yard run as the Ansonia players on the field and sideline erupted.
THE RESULT — It was a magical and emotional moment for the Chargers. Not only did J.J. get to give his grandfather a gift, but it was also a nice tribute to the memory of statistician Bucky Glenn, who died earlier this year after decades spent jovially on the Chargers’ sidelines. The result, a 48-0 victory over Derby, hardly mattered.
Do you think you had a play that rivaled or trumped any of these? Well, we can guarantee you didn’t submit it to the GameTimeCT ‘Plays of the Week’ offices in time… or at all.
Don’t be modest. Don’t hesitate. We want to show off the best Connecticut football has to offer. And you can’t win if you don’t play.
So get those submissions in. Follow these instructions here. Send us your plays before 6 p.m. on Tuesdays.
If it doesn’t make the Top 10 (or so), then it might make our honorable mention reel, which will be added to the bottom of this post on Wednesdays.
That’s all for this week. Let’s head to what’s looking like a rainy Week 4.
Thanks for joining us.