It's an overtime win and a share of the ECC title for jubilant Montville football

Montville — It was going to be a happy offseason for Tanner Grove, the football coach at Montville High School and more importantly, a new dad. But the memories of this game, this night, will stay with the coach long into the cold winter nights and mundane strength training sessions of 2018.

His Indians blew a 10-point lead Thursday night. Surrendered the last of it on the final play of regulation. And were headed backwards in overtime, suddenly trailing.

Is this how Senior Night would end?

“Crazy,” is how Montville senior Greg Clark, who made the biggest play of the night, described what ensued.

Clark caught a touchdown pass from Ryan Douchette on third and goal from the 18 in overtime, lifting Montville to a 26-23 win over Waterford in Division II of the Eastern Connecticut Conference.

The victory not only sent the seniors off their field for the final time in jubilation, but also earned the Indians a share of the division title with Bacon Academy and Stonington.

“I knew how they would defend it and I thought I’d be wide open,” Clark said. “I’m kind of at a loss for words. I mean, Montville and Waterford is such a rivalry and we get a share of the title because Stonington lost … what a great way to go out.”

Clark, who also caught a 23-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the first half, had to settle to be the game’s co-star. The other: undeniably Waterford’s Max Mazzella, who scored all 23 of his team’s points.

Mazzella caught touchdown passes of 34 and 30 yards and kicked three field goals. His second field goal, a 27-yarder, tied the game on the final play of regulation. His 28-yard field goal in overtime gave Waterford (0-9, 0-4) a 23-20 lead.

“He’s an incredible athlete,” Waterford coach John Strecker said of Mazzella, a senior. “He’s just starting to understand football. This is a kid who came out halfway through his junior year. I’ve already talked to at least one (college) about him. He has the best hands here since (former UConn receiver) Alex Molina left. An amazing athlete.”

Waterford nearly had a 10-7 lead at halftime, stopping Montville near the goal line on what appeared to be the last play of the half. The officials added a second, however, giving the Indians one more play. The result: the aforementioned touchdown pass to Clark.

Mazzella’s game-tying field goal in regulation almost didn’t happen, either. Grove was trying to call timeout, furiously trying to get the attention of the officials. He failed.

“I guess I have to work on being louder,” Grove said.

Douchette finished 10-for-18 for 231 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. Counterpart Peter Turello was 12-for-24 for 233 yards, two scores and two interceptions.

Montville (4-5, 2-2) plays Windham in its final game. Waterford gets East Lyme on Thanksgiving.

“I’m proud of the kids,” Strecker said. “They’ve competed all the way through.”

m.dimauro@theday.com

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