Nov. 24—EAST LYME — It's not easy to keep a bummer memory out of one's head from the not-too-distant past.
In the case of Waterford High School senior football players, they took a punch to the throat from East Lyme last Thanksgiving when the Vikings kicked a game-winning field goal on the final play.
They Lancers managed to compartmentalize that loss for most of this season.
And then came November.
"As soon as we got into November, East Lyme, that was the game we were focused on," senior Nate Hynes said after he and Waterford got some payback in the form of a 42-28 Thanksgiving Day win in the Battle of the Bay at Dick North Field.
Waterford finished 6-4. It leads its rivalry against the Vikings, 29-25.
East Lyme won last Thanksgiving's game, 17-14, with Cannon Dean kicking a walk-off 28-yard field goal.
"They came on our field and beat us," Hynes said. "We've been remembering that the whole year. We tried not to focus on it too much during October and September."
Hynes played a starring role in Thursday's win. He ran 23 times for 89 yards and a touchdown and completed 14 of 18 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns to earn his team's game MVP honor.
Junior Noah Westkott ran for touchdowns of 3 and 9 yards and caught a 37-yard touchdown pass for Waterford. Sophomore Brady Sutman caught five passes for 100 yards and a touchdown and scored on a 6-yard run.
Lancers senior Yankuba Faburay kicked five extra points.
"(The seniors) realized how big this (rivalry) is and they stepped up today," Lancers head coach Zeth Nolda said. "I'm very proud of these guys. They've done a good job turning around the program to a 6-4 (team) and leaving a good legacy to pass off to these younger guys."
East Lyme finished 4-6. It began the day with a chance to qualify for the CIAC Class M playoffs with a win and some outside help.
As it turned out, it wouldn't have matter had the Vikings won because Branford beat East Haven on Thursday, 48-14, and got the help it needed to clinch the eighth and final playoff spot.
"We just had some bad plays," East Lyme head coach Rudy Bagos said. "Tip your hat (to Waterford). Those guys made the plays when they had to and we didn't."
Junior Aidan Patterson ran 15 times for 109 yards and two touchdowns to earn game MVP honors for the Vikings. Classmate Ronin McNamara completed 12 of 22 passes for 148 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Syrus Sistare.
Junior Alex Dreyfus also scored on a 1-yard run for East Lyme and senior Jack Mauri kicked four extra points.
The Vikings rallied back from a 14-point deficit with Patterson's 14-yard touchdown run and Mauri's extra point tying the game at 21 with 8 minutes, 1 second left in the third quarter.
Hynes threw a 54-yard touchdown pass to Sutman four offensive plays later. He scored later the quarter on an 11-yard run and Sutman ran for his touchdown with 10:20 left to push Waterford ahead, 42-21.
"Eighteen weeks of practice, I think that chemistry just clicked today," Hynes said.