The Lonesome Polecat: Morgan's record-setting comeback and other things

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Oct. 19—Howdy,

Morgan head coach Kevin Sullivan kept trying to keep his team's spirits up and encouraging them not to give up during last Saturday's game against Sport and Medical Sciences Academy.

That's a hard sell when you're down 28 points in the third quarter and thinking that it's going to be a long bus ride home.

"The outlook was definitely bleak for a little while, but I tried to tell myself to be positive, don't let the kids get down on themselves and just keep fighting," Sullivan said.

The Huskies would then put together one of the greatest rallies in Connecticut high school football history. They scored 30 straight points to beat SMSA, 44-42, tying the state-record for the largest comeback.

"Like I've told everybody, I have no words to describe it," Sullivan said. "I don't know how to explain it, but it happened and I'm happy to be on the right side of it."

Morgan (4-1) shares the record for the biggest comeback with St. Joseph (Oct. 19, 1974), Bacon Academy (Oct. 2, 2010), Xavier (Oct. 26, 2012) and Wolcott (Sept. 27, 2013), according to the Connecticut High School Football Record Book.

Huskies senior Andrew Nye also added his name to the Record Book's list of most yards passing in a game. He completed 38-of-49 passes for 517 yards with five touchdowns, two interceptions and three two-point conversions. His 517 yards ranks eighth all time.

"He didn't play a good first half," Sullivan said. "The second half the kid played phenomenal. Phenomenal. Without him we would've never come back. Let's say what it is. The kid is a fantastic athlete, a fantastic quarterback, and we're lucky to have him."

Former Woodland standout Tanner Kingsley passed for a state-record 615 yards against Seymour on Nov. 21, 2012.

Morgan senior Alex Fratamico caught 15 passes for 221 yards and three touchdowns. His 15 catches put him in a seven-way tie for 12th place for most receptions in a game, according to the Record Book.

Tyler Burns of Amity and Foran's Brett Huber shared the state-record with 19. Burns set his mark on Nov. 1, 2013 against Fairfield Prep. Huber had his 19 catches against the Creed/Career/Whitney Tech co-op on Nov. 17, 2016.

Morgan struggled to stop the Tigers' running game and fell behind 28-6 in the second quarter. SMSA finished with 51 carries for 428 yards and four touchdowns.

"At halftime we were down 28-14," Sullivan said. "The way we can put up points, the way our offense can score, I did have some faith.

"Then, coming out of the half, (SMSA) made some big plays. We didn't score right away and punted. They scored (again). I think on our next drive we fumbled, and they scored again (to go ahead, 42-14)."

Nye and the Huskies responded. Nye threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to Ethan Ranaudo followed by a conversion pass to Nick Schmidt.

Senior Garret Garbinski scored on a 5-yard run later in the third quarter. Nye threw another conversion pass, this time to sophomore Casey Corrigan, as Morgan cut the deficit to 42-31.

"I looked at the clock," Sullivan said. "There were like two minutes left in the third quarter and I will tell you I literally said to myself, 'holy crap, we could actually win this game.'"

The Tigers then proceeded to drive down field near the Morgan goal line.

"They ran the ball down our throats all game," Sullivan said. "Terrible, but we came up with a big goal line stand inside the five. ... We got the ball at the three and that's when I felt things kind of changed a little bit.

"We got one first down and went for it on fourth down inside our own 20-yard line and we were able to convert and then started rolling."

A 59-yard touchdown pass from Nye to Alex Fratamico and another two-point conversion cut SMSA's lead to 42-39 with about nine minutes remaining.

Sullivan said that Morgan has either squibbed or tried an onside kick on every kickoff this season. They hadn't recovered an onside kick all game but tried it again and recovered this time.

"It was the perfect time to recover it," Sullivan said.

Nye and Fratamico hooked up again for a 16-yard pass play to give the Huskies a 44-42 lead with about six minutes remaining. Their two-point conversion failed.

"The thing that got us this far was Drew throwing the ball to Alex Fratamico in the back of the end zone," Sullivan said. "We've done it all year. Why go away from it? We put our faith in those kids and those kids came through.

"(SMSA) drove (on its next possession) and we stopped them about the 10-yard line on fourth down. I believe we converted one first down and ended up having to punt. We punted away from them. They got the ball at about midfield. Four players later, we were in victory formation after a turnover on downs. It was a good feeling, that's for sure.

"The sense of relief came when the clock hit zero."

Senior Ethan Ranaudo had eight catches for 111 yards and two touchdowns, Garbinski had nine catches for 130 yards and seven tackles and sophomore Tyler Baldwin had 12 tackles for Morgan.

Dylan Jackson ran 31 times for 266 yards and two touchdowns for the Tigers (2-4) and Miguel Varela Jr. ran 11 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns. Also, Nathaniel Ried had 10 tackles (five solo) including a sack, Russell Smith had six tackles (five solo) and two fumble recoveries (including a 22-yard scoop-and-score) and Torres had eight tackles (six solo) and recovered a fumble.

(Thanks to Gerry deSimas of the Collinsville Press, the comptroller of the Record Book, for providing SMSA's stats).

— — — —

And now, a review of other wacky games from Week 6:

St. Joseph 24, Greenwich 20

It lived up to the hype — the top-ranked Cadets used ball control and defense to beat the then-No. 4 team.

Time of possession may not be what it used to be at a time in which the spread offense (and passing game) can enable a team to score fast. Especially the FCIAC's top teams.

That written, St. Joseph had a 26:47-to-17:11 edge in TOP.

The Cadets ran 65 plays for 329 yards. They ran on 41 of those plays for 169 yards.

(We watched St. Joseph run Power-I on two short yardage situations and a four-man backfield with Tyler DaSilva taking the direct snap to run for a 1-yard touchdown, all of which made us wonder if we were hallucinating given all the years in which we've watched its quarterbacks take direct snaps with four receivers spread out wide.)

The Cardinals ran 55 plays for 229 yards and two touchdowns — it's second touchdown was a 95-yard kickoff return by Logan Galletta.

Matt Morrisey completed 12 of 24 passes for 160 yards with a touchdown and interception and ran 10 times for 46 yards and a score for the Cadets. DaSilva added a 1-yard touchdown run and a game-ending sack.

Jack Wilson completed 18 of 32 passes for 158 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Cardinals (3-2).

Darien 56, Wilton 36

This game had #cthsfb Twitter ablaze last Saturday.

Ignore the final score — Wilton gave the second-ranked Blue Wave agita for over three quarters.

Darien trailed with 10 minutes left and needed a 22-0 run in the game's final 9:55 to finally put the Warriors away.

Tighe Cummiskey ran 19 times for 173 yards and three touchdowns and scored on a 34-yard reception for Darien (5-0). Miles Drake completed 9 of 18 passes for 182 yards with three touchdowns and an interception and Cole Murphy had 12 tackles (five solo) including a sack.

Wilton, in losing, became the first team to score more than 27 points against the Blue Wave since the Darien edged New Canaan in overtime, 37-34, on Nov. 24, 2016.

Darien, in its next 44 games, allowed 20-or-more points just seven times.

Grant Masterson threw for 244 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 91 yards and a TD for the Warriors (3-2).

New Canaan 17, Norwalk 14

Giants fans all over Fairfield County wasted their early Sunday afternoon watching the Los Angeles Rams thump their favorite squadron when they should've been watching the New Canaan Rams and Norwalk Bears battle it out.

It was defensive game by today's standards with both teams being nearly even in offensive yardage (New Canaan had a 260-258 edge).

The Bears have to wonder what the outcome would've been had they not been at such a disadvantage — head coach Pat Miller and 15 players missed the game due to COVID-19 protocols.

Henry Cunney completed 12 of 18 passes for 158 yards with a touchdown, Vincent Cognetta ran eight times for 45 yards and a score and Ty Groff kicked a game-winning 32-yard field goal for New Canaan (5-0).

Cam Edwards ran 25 times for 160 yards and a touchdown for Norwalk (4-1) and Shawn Brown threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Justin Oliver.

Hall 39, Platt 38

This freaking game — fourth-ranked Hall took its first-and-only lead, 39-38, with 5:11 remaining.

The Panthers attempted a 41-yard field goal with 45 seconds left but it was blocked.

Platt (3-2) had leads of 17-7 and 24-14 in the first half.

Leo Perreira ran 28 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns for Hall before leaving the game to injury with about six minutes left.

Avery Robinson completed 19 of 25 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown and ran for three more. Amari Robinson ran for 148 yards and a touchdown and caught a 21-yard touchdown from his brother.

Xavier 21, Cheshire 20

D.J. Wright scored on a 10-yard touchdown run to give Xavier a 21-14 lead with 3:42 remaining.

Cheshire's Tristan Washington returned the ensuing kickoff for an 82-yard touchdown but the extra point was no good.

The Rams got the ball back with 1:48 left after recovering a fumble at the Falcons' 39.

Cheshire got down to the Xavier 29 but the Falcons' Daniel Delgado iced the game with an interception with 44 seconds remaining.

Drew Kron ran for 115 yards and a touchdown and threw for another for Xavier (3-2).

Christian Russo ran 16 times for 150 yards and a touchdown for the Rams (3-2).

Sheehan 15, Amity 13 (OT)

Sheehan scored first in overtime as Jacob Shook took three direct snaps, the last being a 1-yard touchdown run. He followed by running in the conversion.

Jack Coughlin caught a 4-yard touchdown from Patrick Coughlin on the Spartans' overtime possession. The latter was stopped at the goal line to end the game.

The Titans (3-2) had stopped Amity on fourth-and-1 from their own 10-yard line with three minutes left in regulation.

Shook scored on a 4-yard run earlier in the game for the Titans (3-2).

Wilby 24, Kennedy 18

Aaron James threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jeremiah Coleman with less than 30 seconds remaining as the Wildcats rallied to win.

Wilby trailed 12-0 in the first quarter and 18-8 in the fourth.

James scored on a 65-yard interception return followed by a Jamare Hall conversion run to cut Wilby's deficit to 18-16 with 4:58 left in the game.

James Richards ran 13 times for 120 yard and added a two-point conversion on the Wildcats' last touchdown.

— — — —

Norwich Free Academy coach Jason Bakoulis, sweat dripping from him even after the game ended, didn't look as calm and cool as his words suggested after last Saturday's wild 34-30 win over Waterford.

The Wildcats rallied from a 30-14 deficit at halftime.

"It goes back to the schedule we've played," Bakoulis said, alluding to games already against Xavier and No. 2 Darien. "Guys feel like they can't ever take a play off."

NFA used a 26-yard TD pass to Skye Laurent, a special teams score and Jeremiah Capps' 7-yard scoring catch with 2:28 remaining to stun the Lancers.

Waterford also committed a roughing the passer penalty late in the game that negated freshman C.J. Landry's second interception of the game that would have all but sealed the win.

Other notable: Waterford junior Aidan Bousquet intercepted a pass in the first half and forced a fumble in the fourth period that teammate Anthony Sandora recovered.

— — — —

It remains to be seen if Ledyard has the best punter in the ECC. But it has the most physical one.

Jonah Eddy added to his resume during last Thursday's 8-0 win over New London. Eddy, who blocked an opposing punter's punt earlier this year, sacked New London quarterback Christian Irizarry in the first half. It came with the Whalers on a third-and-goal play, thwarting a potential scoring drive.

Ledyard played most of the game without leading rusher Ryan Outlow (758 yards). Outlow hyperextended his knee and suffered turf toe in the first half, leaving James Green, Andrew Harris, Wyatt Crawford, Jackson Poulton and Roman Streckfuss to help quarterback Justin Outlow.

"I can't say enough about how those guys stepped up," Justin Outlow said.

It doesn't get easier for the Colonels this week at Stonington, smarting from a loss to Killingly on Friday.

(Thanks to TEAMDAY~! staffer Mike DiMauro for the NFA and Ledyard notes).

— — — —

Behold, The Day's Top 10 state coaches' poll: 1. St. Joseph (nine first-place votes); 2. Darien (three first-place votes); 3. New Canaan; 4. Ridgefield (4-1); 5. Hall; 6. Greenwich; 7. Fairfield Prep (4-1); 8. Norwalk; 9. Southington (4-1); 10. Ansonia (5-0).

— — — —

The GameTimeCT/New Haven Register/Hearst Inc. Monolith Top 10 media poll: 1. Darien (16 first-place votes); 2. St. Joseph (five first-place votes); 3. New Canaan; 4. Ridgefield; 5. Greenwich; 6. Hall; 7. Fairfield Prep; 8. Norwalk; 9. Shelton (4-1); 10. Killingly (4-0).

The coaches voted Shelton 12th and Killingly 15th.

The media voted Southington 11th and Ansonia 14th.

— — — —

Ned Freeman's cold, calculating computer rankings for CalPreps.com: 1. St. Joseph; 2. Darien; 3. New Canaan; 4. Greenwich; 5. Hall; 6. Shelton; 7. Ridgefield; 8. Fairfield Prep; 9. Southington; 10. Hand (2-3).

Yep, the Tigers are ranked 10th despite a losing record. Some of it must be because the computer ranks their schedule the toughest in the state they've lost to New Canaan (28-18), Prep (29-16) and Shelton (33-20). They also blew out Masuk (4-1), 49-21, which the computer ranks 14th.

The computer ranked Norwalk 11th, Ansonia 22nd and Killingly 27th.

— — — —

Dig the ballot Polecat HQ filed for the aforementioned media poll:

1. St. Joseph: Playing a hunch

2. Darien

3. Greenwich: Yep, it's 3-2. It's also the only team with two wins over Top 10 teams — Ridgefield (42-34) and Fairfield Prep (14-7). One of its losses was to the state's No. 1 team. The 35-14 beating it took from Shelton isn't ideal for our numero tres team but we still have more confidence in the Cardinals than all but two teams.

4. New Canaan

5. Ridgefield

6. Fairfield Prep

7. Norwalk

8. Trumbull: We remember the old days where we'd vote for as many SCC Tier I teams as FCIAC teams if not more.

9. Shelton: Clobbered our No. 3 team. Clobbered by our No. 8 team (41-7).

10. Hall: Dropping it a few spots after needing to rally to win yet another shootout last Friday. Cut it some slack for opening the season with a 46-41 win over East Hartford (2-3). Cut it some further slack when it needed to score with 10 seconds left to beat Fairfield Warde (1-4), 29-26, in Week 3 — Norwalk pounded Warde the week before, 46-14. And while we believe Platt is a good team, we have to wonder if Hall would be unbeaten if it was playing the same schedule as the top FCIAC and SCC Tier 1 teams.

11. Southington: This would be eight LL teams and counting.

12. Maloney

13. Newtown: Good win this weekend over Bunnell. It's two losses were to No. 2 Darien (27-14) and No. 7 Ridgefield (14-7).

14. Windsor: The Warriors were on a bye but jump back into our Top 15 after Cheshire's 21-20 loss to Xavier last Friday.

15. Killingly

— — — —

TOP DUDES (formerly NOTABLES)~!

Hunter Agosti and Corbin Smith, Trumbull: Agosti completed 14 of 15 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns in last Saturday's 48-0 win over Stamford. Smith, meanwhile, continues to be gold for Connecticut high school fantasy football teams with three catches for 52 yards and a touchdown, ran twice for 10 yards and two touchdowns and was six-for-six on extra points.

Avon: Scored on a SEVENTEEN play, 74 yard drive that took TEN MINUTES, FIFTY SEVEN SECONDS in last Friday's 7-3 win over Tolland. Tabor Engle ran 31 times for 176 yards and a touchdown for the Falcons (3-2). Realize teams want to play fast nowadays but slowly devouring a defense like army ants gradually stripping a carcass is so exhilarating in a primoridal way.

Brad Barcello, Weston: Ran for three touchdowns and caught a touchdown pass in last Saturday's 28-26 loss to Notre Dame-Fairfield.

Ryan Bozzi, Tyreice Dominque and MJ Torres, Rocky Hill: Dominique ran 15 times for 173 yards and two touchdowns and completed 5 of 6 passes for 48 yards and a score in last Saturday's 28-7 win over Farmington. Torres ran 18 times for 111 yards and a score for the Terriers (4-1) and Bozzi had five tackles and an interception.

Freddie Camp and Ian Thompson, Gilbert/Northwestern/Housatonic: Camp had 12 carries for 157 yards and three touchdowns in last Saturday's 42-0 thumping of Old Saybrook/Westbrook. Thompson added four tackles and scored on a 23-yard interception return.

Jason Caswell and Bryan Cummins, New Fairfield: Ordinarily, Caswell would shoulder the Rebels' run game (he averaged 28 carries in their first four games). He got a day off (by his standards) last Saturday as he ran eight times for 124 yards and two touchdowns in last Saturday's 48-13 win over Bethel. Cummins added eight tackles.

Bailey Coleman, Jailon Denny and Jonathan Williamson, Notre Dame-Fairfield: Denny ran 12 times for 77 yards and two touchdowns and completed 11 of 18 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown in last Friday's 28-21 win over Weston. Williamson had 11 carries for 104 yards and two scores for the Lancers (4-1) while Coleman had 11 tackles with two sacks and added an interception.

Cromwell/Portland: Cole Brisson completed 9 of 15 passes for 137 yards and four touchdowns in last Saturday's 49-0 rout over North Branford. Who else, who else. Alex Hair ran 10 times for 133 yards and two touchdowns for the PANTHERLANDERS (4-0) and Ben Fagan had two catches for 43 yards and two scores. But wait — there's more! Owen Brunk had eight tackles (six solo) with two interceptions, one of which he returned for a 35-yard touchdown, and Allen Cohen was seven-for-seven on extra points.

MJ Devilliers and Adam Pandolfi, North Haven: Pandolfi ran 13 times for 69 yards and two touchdowns to help North Haven beat Hamden last Friday, 28-7, for its win first game of the season. GOD'S FATHER'S OFFENSE. Devilliers scored on a 63-yard interception return.

Matthew Doolan and Cam Guerrera, Watertown: Guerrera had two interceptions, including a 53-yard touchdown return, in last Friday's 20-13 win over Oxford. Doolan also had two picks.

Travis Edmondson and John and Matt Ryan, Rockville: Matt Ryan completed 13-of-23 passes for a career-high 271 yards with two touchdowns in last Friday's 33-6 win over Windsor Locks. Edmondson ran 11 times for 71 yards and had nine tackles, including three sacks, for the Rams (3-1) and John Ryan had five catches for 120 yards and a score.

Patch Flanagan and Ethan O'Brien, Hand: O'Brien ran 22 times for 107 yards and a touchdown in last Friday's 33-20 loss to Shelton. Flanagan ran 17 times for 110 yards and a score.

Juan Garcia, Waterbury Career Academy: Scored on a 35-yard interception return to ice last Thursday's 20-13 win over Crosby.

Justin Keller, Matt Long and Nicholas Verbitsky, Ridgefield: Keller completed 13 of 26 passes for 192 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions in last Friday's 40-0 win over Westhill. Long added three sacks and Verbitsky two sacks.

Tanner Leo and Jashua Sanabria, Crosby: Leo completed 20 of 43 passes for 301 yards with a touchdown in last Friday's loss to WCA.

Griswold: Sophomore Kyle Kessler ran for 210 yards and three touchdowns in the first half as the Wolverines won their first game of the season last Friday, 42-8. Kessler was aided by offensive linemen Zach Confer, John Dougan, Aaron Hamel, Aiden Danieluk and Daniel Sims and tight end Jacob Hamel. Kessler didn't play the second half after hurting suffering a calf injury late in the second quarter.

Woodie Janki, Charlie Guidera and Danny Shaban, Barlow: Guidera ran 10 times for 90 yards and three touchdowns as the Falcons thrashed Brookfield last Friday, 51-6. Shaban added 10 carries for 48 yards and two touchdowns for Barlow (3-2) and Janki had six carries for 41 yards and two scores.

Matt Lockavitch and Tyler Rich, Shelton: Rich ran 23 times for 171 yards and a touchdown in last Friday's 33-20 win over Hand. Lockavitch added 18 tackles (what) for the Gaels (4-1).

Matthew McGuire, Oxford: Ran 18 times for 127 yards and two touchdowns in last Friday's loss to Watertown.

Amir Nakone, West Haven: Ran for a 10-yard touchdown and caught a 37-yard touchdown pass in last Friday's 53-0 win over Foran.

John Neider, Law: See John run (five carries, 109 yards, four touchdowns). See John throw (7-of-11 passes for 130 yards). John led Jonathan Law past East Haven last Friday, 42-7.

Newtown: Dylan Magazu ran 13 times for 103 yards and completed 4 of 15 passes for a touchdown in last Friday's 31-7 win over Bunnell. Caleb Smith ran eight times for 107 yards and two touchdowns, Mark Sokk had 15 tackles (eight solo) and Andrew Jacobs added 14 tackles (11 solo).

Keith Perry, Soren Rief and Jack Sharpe, Killingly: Sharpe ran 27 times for 190 yards and FIVE touchdowns in last Friday's 32-7 win over Stonington. Rief added 11 carries for 83 yards for Team RPO (RUN PEOPLE OVER). Perry had eight tackles, including seven solo.

Nick and Ryan Saccu, Masuk: The twin brothers played a big part in the Panthers' 44-7 rout of New Milford last Friday. Nick Saccu scored on runs of 19 and 88 yards for the Panthers (5-1) and Ryan Saccu scored on a 50-yard interception return and a 59-yard touchdown catch.

— — — —

Thanks for reading. More soon.

Adios....

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