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Ledyard — All game, Ledyard High School's coaches said the same words: Stay low. Sometimes they yelled. Sometimes they pleaded. Stay low. Stay low.
They knew that Jeremiah Crowley, the state-record holder, the Montville kid who made Sports Illustrated, gets his highs by staying low. So the Colonels needed to stay lower.
Turns out they listened well, fittingly holding Crowley to 70 yards, his lowest rushing output of the season Friday night.
The Colonels played almost flawlessly, save a few penalties, and moved a step closer to Eastern Connecticut Conference Medium Division title with a 55-13 victory at Bill Mignault Field.
Ledyard (7-1, 3-0) can clinch the division next week at Stonington. The Colonels also moved a step closer not merely clinching a playoff spot in Class M, but a home game in the state quarterfinals.
Ledyard's defense, sturdy and steady, provided the perfect compliment to the offense. Sophomore quarterback Ty Ebdon threw for 351 yards and five scores while JoJo Shumaker ran for 203 yards and two scores.
Still, they wanted to talk defense.
"Crowley is a great runner. I have nothing but good things to say about him as a person and a runner," said Ledyard senior Jordan Kowalski, a safety and receiver. "I've played varsity three years now and he's been so consistent. He runs hard, runs low to the ground. You get low and you're pretty much hunched over and he runs you over."
Ledyard coach Jim Buonocore: "Kids want to (stand) up because they think they see everything better. Unfortunately, playing high, you don't have any power and aren't in good position to make a tackle, especially with a runner like Crowley, who is so powerful from the waist down.
"We focused very hard this week on staying low and getting 11 hats to the ball," he said. "We played great gap control defense. It was impressive against a very, very good running back."
Buonocore's offense, meanwhile, never punted. Ebdon threw for three scores to Kowalski (5, 17 and 85 yards) and twice to Khary Childs (70 and 44 yards).
"The offense we're running this year is not like traditional Ledyard offense, run right, run left," Kowalski said. "We're definitely throwing a lot more. Everything Ty is doing is perfect.
"He's my neighbor," Kowalski said. "We've been throwing the ball in the front yard since we were five. We've got that chemistry. Our families are extremely close. He literally is my brother. I'm proud of him."
Montville (4-4, 2-2) lost its second straight.