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Hillhouse of New Haven briefly celebrated when a potential game-winning field goal by Guilford went wide right with seconds left in Thursday's game.
The Academics' happiness didn't last long after they escaped with a 20-18 win.
"To tell you the truth, I'm not really happy," senior Terrell Fairweather said. "We could've easily lost because we weren't playing hard enough, but we stepped it up in the end."
Hillhouse coach Tom Dyer said, "Our effort — and that was the scariest thing — I don't know if our effort was there for the first three quarters."
The lack of effort was made more frustrating because the Academics (5-1) have the ability to win the CIAC Class M championship. The backfield of quarterback Je'Vaughn Moore and running backs Harold Cooper and Andre Anderson is as good as any in the state. Moore and Cooper helped Hillhouse beat New London for the 2010 Class M title.
Cooper is also one of the fastest players in the state. He was the State Open 55-meter indoor champion (6.51) last winter. He also averaged a ridiculous 13.6 yards a carry last season.
The defense, led by Fairweather, gave the likes of top-ranked Hand of Madison fits earlier in the season. The Tigers won, 37-19, but it didn't come easy as Hillhouse was relentless. It trailed by four points midway through the third quarter and got to the Hand 30-yard line before turning the ball over on downs.
The Academics also came back after Cooper got hurt and missed the majority of the game. Anderson later got hurt, but still, the Academics kept coming.
"We knew that we were going to face a great offensive team," Hand defensive end Peter Gerson said after that game. "All respect to Hillhouse, they were great tonight. They have so much speed, so many skill players. They can do so many things with the ball. It's incredible."
That Academics team didn't show up against Guilford. Perhaps it was because the Indians were 1-3, but they didn't play like a losing team. They had 52 carries for 347 yards and three touchdowns.
"Give credit to (Indians' coach Tom) Unger and his staff," Dyer said. "After a bye week, his kids came out prepared to play, and they really took it to us today."
Fairweather said, "I guess people came out thinking that they're 1-3, so we came out flat. And we knew we came out flat. This week of practice, we had bad practices. It wasn't good. We needed to pick that up and we came out flat. We knew this was going to be a trap game, and we just came out flat, and this is the result that happened."
Hillhouse, an option team, only gained 75 yards on 31 carries. Its first touchdown was set up by a Guilford fumble at its own 27. Moore threw a 24-yard touchdown to Darryn Horner. The duo later hooked up for a 37-yard score when Horner, standing behind the defensive back, leapt high and snatched the ball out of the air.
Anderson's 45-yard punt return gave Hillhouse a 20-12 lead with over six minutes left in the game.
The Indians responded by going 73 yards in five plays. Joe Nault's 1-yard touchdown run cut the Academics' lead to 20-18, but they stopped a two-point conversion run.
Hillhouse went three-and-out on its next possession. It tried to punt, but a bad snap caused Moore to throw an incompletion, giving Guilford the ball at the Academics' 26 with over two minutes left.
Again, Hillhouse survived.
"We stepped up in the end," Fairweather said. "We got the win, so we're going to take it and move on from this game and prepare way harder for next week.
"We're not playing around anymore. No more fun and games. We're coming."
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A factoid via the sage Bob Barton — in Connecticut scholastic football's first 127 years, there were 25 games in which two teams combined for 102 points or more.
This season, there have been six after six weeks:
Sept. 22: Crosby 56, St. Paul 49.
Sept. 29: Naugatuck 70, St. Paul 33.
Oct. 5: Amity 61, Guilford 43.
Oct. 12: North Branford 70, Old Saybrook/Westbrook 39.
Oct. 19: Wilby 52, St. Paul Catholic 50.
Oct. 20: Branford 62, Law 44.
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Kyle Brennan, Waterbury Republican-American: "Wrap Up: What We Learned From Three Big NVL Games", and, "Outside of the NVL, Some Contenders."
Bryant Carpenter, Meriden Record-Journal: "Notebook: Southington football will call Falcon Field home one last time", and HOW did we miss this one — "Not Running Out of Options."
Ray Curren, Post-Chronicle: "Wilbur Cross continues to show improvement and hope for future", and, "SCC Power Rankings."
Mark Jaffee, Waterbury Republican-American: "5 Things We Learned In Week 6."
Pooch Diggity Dog: "Notebook: New offense helping Old Saybrook co-op program."
Gary Rogo, Connecticut Post: "That's a Wrap! Week 6."
Dave Ruden, Stamford Advocate: "FCIAC Football Rewind: Sorry, 1 more word on score management."
Norwich Bulletin: "Notebook: Wildcats earn conference respect."
Some guy, MaxPreps.com: "New Canaan finally headed in the right direction in Connecticut football."
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Matt Walsh was economical with six carries for 51 yards and two touchdowns as top-ranked Hand of Madison beat No. 8 West Haven Saturday, 21-20. The Westies scored with over three minutes left and attempted a two-point conversion, but the ball went off the fingertips of the receiver. Hand's Brendan Bilcheck completed 22 of 27 passes for 169 yards. Ervin Phillips ran 17 times for 86 yards and two touchdowns for West Haven.
Receiver Andrew Matos had touchdown catches of 5 and 48 yards and threw a 72-yard touchdown to Raeshawn Finney as No. 2 Ansonia blitzed Watertown Thursday, 49-21. Hazekiah Duncan added two interceptions, one which he returned 41-yards for a score. … Jack Massie completed 10 of 17 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns and ran three times for 142 yards and two scores as No. 3 Staples of Westport smashed Trumbull, 57-14.
Quinn Fleeting completed 13-of-20 passes for 202 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 85 yards and scored another as No. 4 Windsor rallied four times to beat previously unbeaten Middletown Friday, 40-35. Ryheime Moore added 10 catches for 169 yards and two scores. Dario Highsmith threw for 139 yards and a touchdown and ran for a score for Middletown. Also, O'Brian Sinclair scored on a 70-yard kickoff, Ja'kur West returned an kickoff for an 84-yard touchdown.
Thomas Milone ran seven times for 158 yards and a touchdown as No. 5 Masuk of Monroe walloped Brookfield Saturday, 42-14. … DeAngelo Berry ran 19 times for 131 yards and five touchdowns as No. 6 Xavier of Middletown trounced Amity of Woodbridge Thursday, 52-17. … Liam O'Neil completed 14 of 15 passes for 261 yards and five touchdowns as No. 8 Greenwich trounced Bridgeport Central Friday, 56-6.
Southington's Zach Jamele intercepted a pass at his team's goal line and returned it to the Glastonbury 35-yard line with over a minute left in Saturday's game. Five plays later, Jarrid Grimmett ran for a game-winning 17-yard touchdown to give Southington a 28-21 win. The win elevated the Blue Knights (6-0) to ninth in The Day's Top 10 state coaches' poll. … No. 10 Berlin's Kevin Main had five carries prior to Friday's game against Rockville of Vernon. He ran nine times for 43 yards and three touchdowns in a 47-0 win rout of the Rams.
James Dale ran for 84 yards and two touchdowns and threw for two scores as Cheney Tech of Manchester beat O'Brien Tech of Ansonia Thursday, 44-28. O'Brien Tech's Devin Bacchiocchi had 26 carries for 219 yards and three touchdowns. … Joe Pacheco ran 28 times for 238 yards and four touchdowns as New Fairfield thrashed previously unbeaten Weston Friday, 42-21. … Sam Pascale scored on an 11-yard run with 4:40 left in the game as Cheshire rallied to beat Wilbur Cross of New Haven Friday, 28-23. Wilbur Cross led the Rams 14-0 in the first quarter, and 21-6 at halftime.
Andrew McBride scored on runs of 23 and 4 yards and completed 12 of 17 passes for 250 yards and a touchdown as Platt of Meriden beat Tolland Friday, 30-19. … The Northwest Catholic of West Hartford defense had three sacks and allowed just 56 yards in Friday's 20-0 win over Plainville. … Kyle Jordan ran for two touchdowns and scored on an 86-yard pass to lead McMahon of Norwalk past Fairfield Ludlowe Friday, 27-7.
Will Bonaparte ran nine times for 126 yards and two touchdowns and caught a 52-yard touchdown as Ridgefield downed Norwalk Friday, 46-13. Sam Gravitte added 107 total yards, a touchdown, and field goals for 45 and 42 yards. … Mike Nicol ran nine times for 226 yards and four touchdowns as unbeaten Wolcott smashed Derby Friday, 41-7.
Brandon Sierra had seven carries for 123 yards and three touchdowns and completed 6 of 11 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown as Wilby of Waterbury outlasted St. Paul of Bristol Friday, 52-50. David Hills ran 12 times for 135 yards and three touchdowns for Wilby. Logan Marchi completed 16 of 35 passes for 360 yards and four touchdowns with an interception for St. Paul and Jordan Rowley ran 20 times for 126 yards and three touchdowns.
Joey Paparelli ran for 92 yards and threw three touchdown passes in Norwich Free Academy's, um, contentious 51-0 win over Stamford Saturday. … Davell Cotterell ran 36 times for 237 yards and two touchdowns in Westhill of Stamford's 24-20, come-from-behind win over Danbury Saturday. Tim Longo scored the game-winning touchdown on a 1-yard run with 33 seconds left. … Shaquan Howsie ran 16 times for 180 yards and three touchdowns as Trinity Catholic of Stamford beat Fairfield Warde Saturday, 34-13.
Shiquan Mangual had 18 carries for 208 yards and three touchdowns as Hartford Public beat Wethersfield Saturday, 40-14. Temmate Devon Hazel also ran 12 times for 130 yards and two touchdowns. … Kadeem Johnson's tackle at the 2-yard line on the final drive of the second overtime secured Hartford Sports Sciences/University's 36-30 win over Stafford/East Windsor. Wilfredo Alicea ran for 51 yards and four touchdowns for HSSU. Zach Rollins ran for 79 yards and a touchdown and had nine catches for 2090 yards and two touchdowns for Stafford/East Windsor. … Cam Daley stopped Vincenzo Maricanno on a two-point conversion with no time left as Canton beat Coventry/Windham Tech/Bolton Saturday, 28-26.
Colin Moore ran 21 times for 144 yards and two touchdowns and threw a touchdown as Avon downed Granby Saturday, 42-7. … Nate Cruz had 25 carries for 205 yards and four touchdowns as Haddam-Killingworth crushed Nonnewaug of Woodbury Saturday, 50-6. … Kevin Jones ran for touchdowns of 70 and 46 yards and scored on a 47-yard punt return as Hyde of New Haven routed Lewis Mills of Burlington Saturday, 48-0.
Rahkeem Jordan had 25 carries for 136 yards and a score and had two catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns to lead unbeaten Prince Tech of Hartford past unbeaten Bullard-Havens of Bridgeport Saturday, 34-14. … Malique Jones ran for a 10-yard touchdown in overtime to give New Britain a 27-24 win over Conard of West Hartford Saturday. New Britain blocked a 32-yard field goal attempt to end regulation. … Tyler Stucke ran for 226 yards and four touchdowns in Killingly's 42-0 win over Woodstock Academy Sunday.
Alex Beaudreault completed 7 of 10 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns and Spencer Hill ran 16 times for 136 yards and three touchdowns as Windham routed Bacon Academy Saturday, 40-3. Windham had 549 yards of offense. … Jalon White ran for 105 yards and three touchdowns in North Haven's 42-7 win over Sheehan of Wallingford Saturday. … Javon Martin was 13 of 19 for 219 yards and five touchdowns as Sacred Heart of Waterbury beat city-rival Kennedy Saturday, 63-32. Jacquan Overbey added 17 carries for 174 yards and two touchdowns and scored on a 17-yard catch.
Mike Sullivan scored four times for Wolcott Tech as it beat Whitney Tech of Hamden Saturday, 49-6, for its first win of the season. Shane Celone added 12 tackles, three sacks and three forced fumbles. … Nick Weissauer ran for two touchdowns and caught another as Foran of Milford upset Notre Dame of West Haven Saturday, 50-35. … Tanner Kingsley completed 24 of 33 passes for 323 yards and four touchdowns as Woodland of Beacon Falls routed Torrington Saturday, 68-20. Anthony Scirpo had seven catches for 79 yards and two touchdowns, scored on a 62-yard interception return, and kicked eight extra points.
Oxford's Marcus Esteves ran 11 times for 75 yards and three touchdowns, scored on a 25-yard interception return, and had a sack to lead his team past New Milford Monday, 27-0. … Chris Young ran for 198 yards and three touchdowns as Rocky Hill bounced Bloomfield Monday, 41-7. Tommy Seaver added five catches for 101 yards and a score.
East Lyme returned just five players with any varsity experience and lost its first four games. It's made gradual improvement and downed Woodstock Academy last Friday, 42-7, its second-straight victory.