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Shumaker lifts Ledyard to ECC Medium crown

Montville - Ledyard running back JoJo Shumaker made sure to credit his offensive line for helping him have "a good game on the ground."

Shumaker's definition of the word "good" is very different than how most others would explain it, especially taking his Friday night performance into account. He rushed for 292 yards and six touchdowns as the eighth-ranked Colonels clinched the Eastern Connecticut Conference Medium Division title with a 48-19 win over Montville.

"He is a tremendous back and I'm glad he's on our team," Colonels coach Jim Buonocore said. "He has great vision, great feet, great hips. When the ball is in his hands, he can do some special things."

The Indians (4-2, 3-1), who had a four-game winning streak snapped, had a chance to tie the game midway through the third quarter, but a failed two-point conversion put their deficit at 21-19. Four plays later (including a 32-yard pass play on a third-and-15 to keep the drive alive), Shumaker ripped off a 25-yard scoring run, his third of the night.

Montville went three-and-out on its next two possessions, both times Ledyard (6-0, 4-0) blocked the punt, and both times Shumaker put the ball in the endzone, once from 27 yards out and once from 3 yards. All of a sudden it was 41-19.

He finished off the scoring with a 38-yard run in the fourth quarter.

"He's the best tailback in our area, by far," Montville coach Tanner Grove said. "He's bigger, stronger, faster than last year. He's extremely confident. And like a lot of high school football teams, when you have a superstar, they rally behind him. He's a superior talent."

Shumaker had 141 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, but the Colonels led just 21-13.

"We came out a little slow," he said. "But it was a good effort by our team, and it was a chance for our starters and some of our young guys to get a feel to play a full game. I was very fortunate to keep getting the ball in the fourth quarter."

Montville scored twice in the second quarter on a 14-yard run by Sean Patterson and a 45-yard pass from Tyler Quidgeon to Jon McCray and trailed just 14-13. But on Ledyard's next play, Shumaker made a shifty move to his left at the line, and went 42 yards virtually untouched to regain some cushion on the scoreboard. It was a run typical of this night, and this season.

"I came out and just tried to make one cut and go," he said. "My vision is better (compared to last year). I can see the whole field now. Last year I zeroed in on one spot and went there. Now I look for the cutback. I'm able to make cuts that I wasn't able to make last year."

Ledyard's first touchdown was a 49-yard run by River Thomas. Montville's third-quarter score came on a 7-yard run by Patterson.


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