Valley/OL relies on stingy defense to beat Morgan in opener
Deep River — The emotion on the Valley Regional/Old Lyme sideline after Friday’s season opener was one part happy, one part relieved, and one part exasperated.
The Warriors beat Morgan 23-6, but the score doesn’t show just how hard they made it on themselves in a in a Pequot Football Conference game at at Richard Blythe Field.
The Valley/Old Lyme defense deserved the majority of the credit for the win. It stuffed the Huskies’ offense for negative 3 yards and one first down in the first half.
Colbe Andrews finished with two interceptions and Brian Rankin added another. Kyle Metz also assisted on two sacks, including one for a safety and the game’s first points, and recovered a fumble.
A 19-yard loss on a bad snap pushed Morgan further into negative yardage moments into the third quarter. It set up a third-and-32 from its own 20-yard line.
The Huskies' Michael Zingarella threw down the Warriors’ sideline into double coverage, and Liam Whalen somehow made a 39-yard catch.
“A freak play over here on third-and-a-million that bounces off two of my kids, and (Whalen) catches it,” Valley/Old Lyme head coach Tim King said. “And it set everything in motion (to go wrong).”
The Warriors committed seven penalties that half, fumbled twice (but recovered both), gained one first down, and had 16 total yards.
“I knew it,” King said. “I’ve seen it so many times in coaching that a freak play like that gets the momentum going. … Then we were backed up on (our) 2-yard line for the whole second half. I don’t think we had the ball past our 25 for the whole second half.”
Zingarella threw a 2-yard touchdown to Alex Fratamico on that Morgan drive with 5:51 left in the third quarter. The two-point conversion failed.
“We came out strong (in the first half),” Metz said. “Then we kind of laid an egg in the second half. We didn’t come out strong in the second. We sat back and we thought we were going to just roll over them and we got complacent.”
Valley/Old Lyme’s defense kept coming through in the second half, though. It stopped two separate Huskies’ drives at its own 1-yard line.
“Our defense played very well, and they had some big stops,” King said.
Metz said, “I think our defense did great. We still have a lot to improve on. Our defense was also pretty flat I the second half, but I think that our defense was solid tonight.
“We just have to make some slight adjustments and iron out some mistakes and we’re all set.”
Anthony Rosario ran 19 times for 79 yards and two touchdowns for the Warriors. He also had a 68-yard rushing touchdown called back early in the second quarter on an illegal block in the back.
James Marsden also threw a 2-yard touchdown to Andrews for Valley/Old Lyme, which led 23-0 at halftime.
The Warriors’ defense scored the team’s first points after the offense turned it over at the Huskies’ 12 on the game’s first drive.
Tommy Burch, Ben Conrad and Metz triple-teamed Michael Zingarella for a sack and safety with 6:27 left in the first quarter. Valley/Old Lyme would go on to score on their next two possessions to go ahead, 16-0, with 52.2 seconds left in the quarter.
“The early safety, it got us going,” Metz said. “We got some momentum going and were rolling.
“The first half was great. There’s much else to say about that.”
Adding to the Warriors' angst was that they had two players taken to the ER after the game.
Stories that may interest you
Skylar Bell had 13 digs and three aces as the East Lyme High School volleyball team resumed play following a layoff due to COVID-19 with a 25-22, 20-25, 25-19, 25-12 victory over Ledyard in the Eastern Connecticut Conference.
Independent high school football leagues are popping up across Connecticut after the CIAC canceled the fall season at the urging of the state Department of Health, including three local participants.
Sophomore Eva Comeau scored a pair of goals as Wheeler won its first game with a 6-0 girls' soccer victory over Grasso Tech on Thursday.
If the joke is that every day during the COVID-19 pandemic feels like Groundhog Day, another day working from home at the kitchen table, the Waterford and Stonington high school field hockey teams can relate.