Stonington - Montville High School head football coach Tanner Grove just knew that A.J. Massengale, his Stonington counterpart, was going to go for the win trailing by a point with 25 seconds left in Friday night's game.
Shoot, Grove even admitted he likely would've done the same thing.
Grove was right. The Bears went for two, and their pass was incomplete as Montville got out of Stonington with a thrilling 22-21 win in the Eastern Connecticut Conference Medium Division.
It was quite the way for Montville to win its fourth straight game.
"It's fun," Grove said. "We have a younger team. … We play a lot of juniors. They need wins like this, and they also need experiences like this.
"Now my heart can't take this kind of stuff year-in and year-out, but you need to have your back against the wall."
Montville is 4-1, 3-0.
Stonington went 85 yards in less than three minutes on its final drive. Quarterback Amadi White ran bootleg for a 6-yard touchdown.
Massengale's original plan was to run the ball, but changed his mind due to an injury to an offensive lineman.
"I had all the confidence in the world in the play," Massengale said. "There was no doubt that we were going to do that. We believed it would work. It didn't work. That's the risk you take."
Grove said, "I tip my cap to A.J. He was going for the win. I could see it from across the field, and my eyes aren't as good as they used to be. And I commend that. I probably would've done the same thing."
The Indians' defense bailed their team out of trouble twice in the fourth quarter. They forced turnovers on back-to-back Bears possessions at both the Montville 26 and 20 yard line.
"Every week, we talk about our defense having to step up," Montville junior middle linebacker Christian Davis said. "Defense wins championships in this sport, so that's what we do. We play hard, we play to the end."
Grove said, "Tonight, our defense answered the bell for us."
Stonington (2-3, 0-1) ran 48 times for 309 yards. By comparison, Montville had 269 yards of offense.
The Bears turned it over three times in the second half alone, though. That included a fumbled exchange on a handoff that the Indians recovered at their own 21 on the first drive of the half.
"We spend more time on (preventing) turnovers than problem anything else," Massengale said. "Holding on to the ball is a mental thing, and we just have to keep working at it."
Tyler Quidgeon completed 10 of 18 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns for Montville and also ran for a 4-yard score.
Jake Callaghan (21 yards) and Sean Peterson (58 yards) both caught touchdowns. Tyler Price added three catches for 76 yards. All of Prices' catches were on the Indians' final drive of the first half, allowing them to tie the game, 15-15, with 1:00 minute left.
Jack Riordan ran 23 times for 153 yards and a touchdown for the Bears. Matt Mitchell added 19 carries for 181 yards and a score.
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