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Waterford - Ledyard High School was able to feel a sense of relief twice Thursday night.
The Colonels beat Waterford 41-20 and inched closer to a spot in the CIAC Class M football playoffs.
Ledyard also got good news after the game about the status of receiver/defensive back/kicker Khary Childs. Childs had to be helped off the field after his team scored early in the third quarter and was taken to the hospital for x-rays.
Colonels' coach Jim Buonocore said later that Childs sprained his ankle and should be able to play against Fitch on Thanksgiving Day.
"He was playing superb for us," Buonocore said of Childs. "He created a turnover for us on defense with the strip and did a nice job kicking off for us. Plus he's our go-to guy on offense and defense. (He's a) tremendous player."
Ledyard improved to 8-2 and finished 4-1 in the Eastern Connecticut Conference Medium Division. The Colonels finished with the same division record as Stonington, but the Bears won the Medium title by virtue of their head-to-head win over Ledyard on Nov. 8.
The Colonels will qualify for the playoffs with a win at home against Fitch (4-6) in the battle for Colonel Ledyard's sword. The Thanksgiving game is at 10 a.m.
Childs made two of the biggest plays in the game. The first happened early in the second quarter with Ledyard already ahead 14-6.
Waterford quarterback Seth Hoagland ran for an 11-yard gain to the Ledyard 22 when Childs stripped him of the ball.
Ledyard turned the turnover into a touchdown. Jordan Kowalski took a screen pass from Ty Ebdon 13 yards for a score, giving the Colonels a 21-6 lead.
"(Childs) makes those kind of plays, the plays that you don't think are going to happen," Kowalski said. "The play might (seem over), and he just comes in and grabs the ball and starts running. It's pretty crazy."
Childs' second big play came when he kicked off to start the second half. He squibbed the kick. … and recovered the ball.
"We felt even though it was 21-6 that we were moving the ball, we just weren't finishing it," Waterford coach Mike Ellis said. "We have to come out (in the second half) and drive down the field and score to get this thing to 21-14."
Instead, Kowalski turned another screen pass from Ebdon into a 21-yard touchdown to push Ledyard ahead 28-6 fewer than three minutes into the second half.
Childs was hurt on that play.
"Kai's a great player, probably honestly one of the best receivers in the league," Kowalski said. "I think he's a D-I athlete. … Everything that we do revolved around Kai."
Ledyard was able to overcome both that injury and four turnovers. It only gave up one touchdown off turnovers.
"The defense really stepped up," Buonocore said. "I thought they did a nice job against a very good Waterford football team. Offensively, they do a really nice job with what they do. The quarterback (Hoagland) is a kid that makes plays for them. They have some speed, and I've been impressed with them.
"I thought this was a good challenge for us tonight, and I thought we did a good job holding them down."
Ebdon completed 8 of 12 passes for 143 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Kowalski had six catches for 107 yards with two touchdowns. River Thomas had the other touchdown catch (24 yards).
JoJo Shumaker ran 21 times for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Both touchdowns gave Ledyard an early 14-0 lead.
The Lancers (4-6, 1-4) didn't fold after the early deficit. Hoagland ran 23 times for 107 yards and two touchdowns for the Lancers (4-6, 1-4). He also threw a 33-yard touchdown to Billy Wendland.
"That's the character of this team," Ellis said. "They do fight, no question about it."