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Griswold - Quarterback Divante White dove for the pylon on the left side of the end zone and was stopped at the 1-yard line. White, the Stonington High School quarterback, was ruled out of bounds, stopping the clock.
That immediately brought the voice of Stonington coach A.J. Massengale from the sideline: "Sir, he was in bounds. Sir. Sir ..."
There was a minute and a half left Friday night and Stonington led 21-7 on the way to a crucial 28-7 victory over Griswold in the Eastern Connecticut Conference Small Division. But Massengale had good reason to plead.
"They've done that to us before. We've had a two-touchdown lead and they ended up beating us," said Massengale, whose vision of Griswold is that of a Venus flytrap, having lost five straight games to the Wolverines dating back to 2005.
"With 30 seconds left I was still a nervous wreck. We want all those seconds."
Tied 7-7 at halftime, Stonington broke the game open in the second half with some resourceful catches by Zach Poirier, instrumental in two straight touchdowns for the Bears to make it 21-7, and a defensive effort that included interceptions by Jay Nieuwenhuis and Jack Dipollino.
Stonington's defense also came in with some fresh legs in the second half, using a brigade of fast guys up front to keep the pressure on Griswold quarterback Adam Davis, Massengale said.
Davis was sacked on Griswold's first three drives of the second half and Stonington (6-1, 3-0) used the opportunity to score on its first two possessions for a 21-7 lead.
Stonington needs to beat Plainfield (2-0 in the division) in two weeks to repeat as ECC Small champion. The Bears claimed the division title last year on a tiebreaker despite losing to Griswold 32-20.
The Bears last beat Griswold in 2005, 27-7.
Massengale can still spout off every detail of the 2007 loss, 21-20, in which Griswold quarterback Sean Brackett led the Wolverines on a game-winning drive and freshman kicker Conner Frizzell's extra point barely made it through the uprights.
"We almost had him sacked three or four times," Massengale said of Brackett. "They scored and they limped the ball over the goal post to beat us."
"We always seem to lose to them every year," said Poirier, who caught four passes for 95 yards and a touchdown in the second half and ran for another touchdown. "We really prepared for them. We just wanted to come out and beat them. It was a big game for us."
It was third-and-14 on Stonington's first possession of the second half when White (12-for-19, 204 yards, 2 TDs) threw a 24-yard completion to Poirier at the Griswold 13 on which Poirier made a tumbling catch. Poirier then caught a 12-yard line drive from the quarterback on the next play and White ran it in from the 1 to give the Bears the lead.
On Stonington's next possession, Poirier caught a pass to the left, avoided a tackle near the sideline and cut back to the middle of the field. He ran all the way for a 59-yard touchdown and the Bears increased their margin to 21-7.
Poirier also ran the ball in from the 1 for the final margin with 1:22 remaining, as Stonington capitalized on Dipollino's 52-yard interception return.
White threw a 4-yard touchdown to Kyle Woodworth in the first half to give the Bears a 7-0 lead before Griswold tied it on a 20-yard touchdown strike from Davis to Adam Allard.
"The time (Poirier) broke a bunch of tackles, what a play," Massengale said. "Kyle made some nice catches, as well. And those picks were huge. We didn't score on Jay's, but it gave us the ball back; we had to keep chipping away. (Griswold) has taken (our) heart too many times."