Welcome back to the GameTimeCT Plays of the Week.
After a pretty indecisive Top 10 (or 11 or 12 or 13…) last week, we go back to our roots with — dare we say? — the best reel of this season.
We have chills, thrills, spills! We have clutch comebacks, big stops, insane catches, great escapes, an end zone somersault and plenty of bruising runs, be it from scrimmage, off pickoffs or on fumble recoveries.
And this time we got just about all of the plays we wanted from Week 5, give or take a few. We also have a few honorable mentions, which we’ll post in the comments below.
So stop reading and WATCH the GameTimeCT Week 5 Plays of the Week!
Out of Hyde-ing
The Scene — Hyde/Career/Whitney Tech traveled to Winsted looking to go over .500 for the first time since its opening victory over Valley Regional/Old Lyme. But the Howling Wolves could get nothing going on offense and trailed 10-0 just as the third quarter was coming to a close.
The Play — Then fortune smiled upon the Wolves. They recovered two fumbles and converted them into points — one directly — and rallied with 20 points in the fourth quarter for a 20-10 victory. Nick May recovered the first fumble to close the third quarter, which led to Tyrese Thomas’ 1-yard run to pull Hyde within 10-7. Later, Ralik Garvins spotted and scooped up a Gilbert/Northwestern fumble and made a beeline for the endzone and the go-ahead touchdown. Hyde capped the game with a 1-yard touchdown run by Jhavion Haddock.
The Result — Hyde/Career/Whitney won 20-10 and improved to 3-2 heading into this week’s game with Windsor Locks. Gilbert/Northwestern saw its three game win streak snapped and fell to 3-2.
Colin Minicus (and Friends)
The Scene — No. 3 Darien faced St. Joseph in its home opener Saturday in Darien. These teams have had a history of close games, but Darien showed early this would be anything but.
The Play — Up 7-0 in the first quarter, Darien quarterback threw to back Colin Minicus on a screen over the middle. The pass was a little behind Minicus, but the senior lacrosse star deftly reached back and plucked the ball from the air and turned up field. Minicus dodged and juked a few tacklers and had a convoy of blockers to help him to the end zone and a 14-0 Darien lead.
The Result — The Blue Wave went on to crush St. Joseph 49-7. This play was good, but it was overshadowed by another in the second quarter…
The Scene — Unbeaten and seventh-ranked Newtown faced QB Adam Wojenski and Bunnell’s flying circus at Blue and Gold Stadium. Bunnell, which has been wildly inconsistent this season, was trying to spring an upset and go over .500 for the first time this year. But Newtown, which has been known for being a second-half team this year, didn’t waste any time in this one. The Hawks were up 28-0 late in the first half.
The Play — Trying to get on the board before halftime, Wojenski, working from the Newtown 37, tried a pass over the middle. But we’re guessing he didn’t see future Division I football stud linebacker Ben Mason lurking in pass coverage. Mason picked off the pass and, with uncommon speed and strength, ripped 74 yards the other way for a back-breaking interception return touchdown.
The Result — Newtown won 44-13 and improved to 5-0 heading into its bye week. Bunnell fell to 2-3.
The Scene — Cheshire and Fairfield Prep were the only SCC teams in action on a stormy Friday night at Fairfield University’s new Rafferty lacrosse stadium. With two losses already in the books, both teams were trying to turn their seasons around.
The Play — Cheshire led 13-7 in the third quarter and had just tried a fake field goal to extend their lead. But the fourth-and-goal pass fell incomplete, giving Prep the ball at its own 11. Prep senior bruiser Nick Franchuk took it from there. He rumbled through the Cheshire line, broke a few tackles and then busted loose for an 88-yard run. Ah, but he needed 89 for the score and, despite his diving effort, couldn’t get the final yard.
Connor Bercik took it in from there. The extra point gave Prep the lead it would never relinquish.
The Result — It sure looked like a touchdown from the footage. But, given Rafferty’s complete and utter lack of football lines and Fairfield University’s refusal to add them for its high school team, who the heck knows. We trust the judge — who was in perfect position — knew Franchuk was a yard short. But, really, who the heck knows.
I mean can anyone tell us where the end zone is? Anyone???
Regardless, Fairfield Prep scored and went on to a 30-13 victory. The Jesuits are 2-2. Cheshire fell to 2-3.
You Can’t Do That (But We’re Glad You Did)
The Scene — Harding headed Danbury to face Abbott Tech/Immaculate in a big CSC battle of unbeatens under temp lights at Mustang Valley. The winner of this game would keep pace with unbeaten Capital Prep.
The Play — We’re not quite sure when this happened because there’s no official account of it. Why? Because the touchdown was called back. But still, this was a wild play for the Presidents. In motion, Xavier Bass — a member of the All-Dude team — took a feed from Harding QB Taisun Phommachanh and then dropped back and hit Phommachanh streaking down the left sideline. Phommachanh eluded some defenders and then somersaulted into the end zone amid a wild Harding celebration.
But as it turned out, Phommachanh had flipped the ball forward to Bass on the first exchange, rather than handing it off, making Bass’ second pass illegal. Had Phommachanh handed it off, this would have been a touchdown.
The Result — Abbott/Immaculate had few answers for either player the rest of the night. Harding took a big lead and hung on late to win 40-35. The Presidents are unbeaten for the first time since 1996. Coach Eddie Santiago was named the New York Jets coach of the Week.
Boom Mic (or: Pierson Takes one for Team WTNH)
The Scene — Shelton was taking on West Haven in a key SCC Division I (and Class LL) clash at Ken Strong Stadium. It turned out to be the coming out party for new QB Zach Tuskowsk. On the Gaels’ second drive of the game, he showed that this could be a long night for the West Haven defense.
The Play — It turned out to be the beginning of a long night for WTNH’s own John Pierson, too. Tuskowski fired a pass toward the end zone. It was tipped by West Haven’s Justin Santos, but caught by Shelton’s Kevin Robinson in the end zone for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead. But as Robinson fell back, West Haven defender Justin Santos couldn’t stop his momentum and the two crashed into Pierson in the back of the end zone. Pierson lost his mic, but — like a pro — bounded up quicker than any of the players. He eventually fled to Newtown.
The Result — Though West Haven tied the game, Shelton tacked on two more touchdowns before the half and went on to win 48-27.
H/T to WTNH-8’s Sportzedge. You can watch their full reel here.
The Scene — Shelton had a 40-21 lead on West Haven early in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s game. But the Westies weren’t about to go silently into that dark night. They were within scoring range when Chris Kanios — aka the Six Million Dollar Man — made his presence felt again.
The Play — Moments after Kanios was hit with a pass interference penalty for hitting Shelian Velasquez a little too early, West Haven figured they’d try testing Kanios vs. Velasquez again. Wrong answer. This time Kanios kept his distance, but deftly reached in and knocked from Velasquez’s grasp. The ball ricocheted back to Kanios, who fell backward for a clutch interception.
The Result — West Haven eventually got the ball back and scored, but precious time had been drained off the clock and Shelton eventually put the finishing touches on a 48-27 victory. The Gaels are 5-0 heading into the second half of the season and Kanios made the annual “Unbeaten Shelton” mission statement. “We’re the team to beat.”
The Scene — We posted this reel on Friday, but it belongs here.
It was a MACtion Thursday night — NVL-style — as Derby and Naugatuck engaged in wild, pendulum game up at Veterans Field. Naugatuck had just come back from a two-score deficit to tie the game thanks, in part to a 99-yard interception return touchdown by Etty Ilunga (for which, sadly, we were not present, nor could we find it to show it) and a 75-yard catch from Ilunga.
Derby went ahead 40-32 on a 1-yard touchdown run by Ricky Bartone and needed just one first down. But Naugatuck stopped Derby on fourth and 3 at its own 10 with 59 seconds remaining. The Greyhounds needed to go 90 yards with no time outs to even have a chance to tie the game.
Young quarterback Mike Plasky calmly led the Naugy 2-minute drill, hitting Antoine Sistrunk, Jalen Datil and Tyler Deitelbaum down to the Derby 14 with 8 seconds remaining. A pass over the middle drew an interference penalty, but the ball had been ever-so-slightly tipped at the line and the flag was waived off. Naugatuck had one more chance with 4 seconds left.
The Play(s) –– Plasky rolled right, pump-faked, and tried to hit Datil for the touchdown. But Derby’s Alijah Ellis swooped in and picked it off. Though he could have just taken a knee to end the game, the junior kept running and running and running — 99 yards — for a game-capping touchdown.
The Result — Derby earned a much-needed 46-32 victory and improved to 3-2. Naugatuck fell to 2-3.
H/T to Kyle Brennan of WATR-1320 (and the Rep-Am) for his outstanding play-by-play of the final drive. You can view WATR-1320’s NVL Football broadcast schedule here.
The Scene — Once-beaten Middletown traveled to Falcon Field in Meriden to face unbeaten Maloney. The Dragons have been looking for an identity since losing last year’s playmakers, particularly All-State do-everything quarterback Dario Highsmith.
The Play — Looks like they’ve found their man in Tyshaun James. The junior did his best Dario impression in the second escaping eight would be tacklers, weaving his way up the middle and then down the sideline for a 72-yard touchdown run.
The Result — James had a night with nearly 300 yards and accounted for four touchdowns in the 45-0 victory. Middletown’s defense held Maloney to just 24 yards. The Dragons are rolling since their close loss to Wethersfield in Week 2.
H/T to WFSB-3 for alerting us and the footage. Watch their full reel here
The Scene — No. 3 Darien was putting the screws to St. Joseph late in the first half of its 49-7 victory. At the time the Blue Wave were trying to go up 28-0 at halftime.
The Play — Darien’s Tim Graham went back to back but was leveled by a blindside hit by St. Joseph’s all-state linebacker Cam Ryan and the ball flew out of his hand. That in and of itself would have made GameTimeCT’s Plays. But what happened next is madness. Hudson Hamill, running a screen route, doubled back and corralled the ball before it got to the sideline. He juked not one, not two, not three, but four, maybe five would-be tacklers on his way to the goal line and a crazy Darien touchdown.
Incidentally, the “Oh!” you hear on the video as Ryan sacks Graham is MSG Varsity’s Mike Quick. You can see what he and cohort Jimmy Cavallo had to say about it on this week’s Quick Hits-Connecticut.
The Result — As we’re all now aware, the Blue Wave won 49-7. They’re 3-0 with very few legit contenders on the horizon. St. Joseph goes back to lick its wounds at 2-1.
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.