Some games are so entertaining and exciting that there shouldn't be any losers. That's how Rocky Hill’s 50-42 overtime loss to Bloomfield felt last Friday night.
The nearly three hour game featured a little of everything. 13 touchdowns, highlight-reel plays, blocked kicks, sunshine followed by heavy rain, and a drone which circulated over the field during the second quarter.
It was ultimately the 13th touchdown that was the difference. The decisive score came on the first possession of overtime with Bloomfield facing a fourth and goal from the 14-yard line. Warhawks quarterback Dexter Lawson Jr. connected with Thomas Norman on a wheel route in the corner of the end zone. Lawson accounted for all of Bloomfield’s touchdowns, with five coming threw the air and two on the ground.
Bloomfield converted the two-point conversion following the go-ahead touchdown and the Terriers had an opportunity to send the game into double overtime, but Joe Catania was stopped three feet short of the goal line on fourth down.
Catania’s final carry didn’t have the result he wanted, but the hard-charging junior had nothing to hang his head about. He finished the game with 250 yards and three touchdowns and had several leg-churning runs that solidified him as an equal partner with backfield mate Grant Nieves.
Nieves also scored three times on the ground and almost single handedly saved the day when returned a kickoff 77 yards, setting up his own five-yard scoring run, which tied the game at 42 with 4:06 to play in the fourth.
Following Nieves touchdown, the home team had a chance to win it in regulation when Ricky Montalvo forced Norman to fumble the ensuing kickoff, which was recovered by Matt Osgood near midfield. The Terriers moved the ball into scoring position, but kicker Damon Lonero had his 30-yard field goal attempt blocked by Norman as the rain intensified and time expired at McVicar Field.
“I have all the confidence in the world in Damon. They were getting close all night. The snap was a little slow and they got to it, but that's football,” Rocky Hill head coach Mark Fritz said of the potential game-winning kick, “No matter where we were on the field, we were going to kick that ball at the end of the game to try and win it. Damon has made 45-yarders in games, so it was a no-brainer for me.”
It was a stinging loss for the home Terriers, who held a 35-20 lead midway through the third quarter and had completely dominated time of possession for the first 30 game minutes.
Bloomfield’s offense woke up and began a series of long drives, reeling off the next 22 points, including a go-ahead touchdown on fourth and 22 when Lawson connected with Russell Thompson-Bishop for a 24-yard score. The ball appeared to make contact with the ground prior to Thompson-Bishop gaining possession, but the official who signaled the touchdown was behind the action and high school football doesn’t have a convoluted replay system like the National Football League.
The loss was hard to swallow, but their coach liked the effort he saw on the field.
“I was proud of them and the entire coaching staff,” said Fritz, “They’ve worked incredibly hard for this opportunity and we played well tonight. I’m just so proud of them.”
One of the many bright spots for the Terriers was the incredible play from the offensive line, which paved the way for Catania and Nieves to do what they do best. Lonero, Krist Veli, Lukasz Zduniak, Anthony Feliciano, Luke Devine, and Greg Fern all play vital roles in the team’s effective ground game.
Catania thanked and gave credit to the guys up front and Fritz loves how the unit has played through the first three games.
“They’re a great group of kids. We have four seniors and a junior that have worked incredible hard. They are all best friends and you can see that translate onto the field,” said the third-year coach, “They love being offensive linemen and it pays off for our running backs. They create huge holes and they love the style of football that we play.”
The defense allowed 50 points, but three of Bloomfield’s touchdowns came following interceptions, two that allowed the Warhawks to take possession in Rocky Hill-territory. Montalvo, the defensive captain, have several tackles, a forced fumble and sack.
Coming into the game, the defensive side of the ball was instrumental in the team’s success over the first two games of the season, a 49-15 victory over Avon and a 42-8 wallop of Northwest Catholic.
The team can lean of their experience from a season ago when they lost in similar fashion to Bloomfield, but rebounded to win their final seven games of the season. Bloomfield went on to win the Class S championship and the game against Rocky Hill was their closest margin of victory in 2015.
“They’re the defending state champs for a reason. They have a great team,” added Fritz, “We’re just going to take it a week at a time and stay focused. We’ll move onto Plainville and see what happens.”
The team will be highly motivated going into their annual date with the Blue Devils of Plainville this Friday, Sept 30. Rocky Hill won last season’s game 48-20 and will be looking for similar results this season. Tinty Stadium at Plainville High School is the venue for the conference game, which kicks at 7:00 p.m.
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin