Fitch completes perfect regular season and will host Masuk in Class L quarterfinals
Ledyard — Of course, they would know how to react to an undefeated regular season, keeping the Colonel Ledyard Sword for another year and clinching a home game in the state playoffs.
Joy. Satisfaction. Maybe even some swagger.
Instead, though, a landmark day in the history of Fitch High School football felt somewhat gloomy. The 27-19 win over Ledyard at Bill Mignault Field was a victory, sure. But not much else.
"Hopefully," senior Tony Figueroa, who finally sealed the game with an interception on the final play, "this is a wakeup call."
But as the Falcons wake up Friday, they will be headed to practice.
The victory, despite its coughing and wheezing, sealed a home game for the Falcons (10-0) in Tuesday's CIAC Class L quarterfinals (the official pairings will be released by the CIAC on Friday). Fifth-seeded Masuk of Monroe (9-1) will visit Dorr Field at 6:30 p.m. to face the first unbeaten Fitch team through the regular season since 2001.
Earlier Thursday, Fitch thought it was going to be the third seed and play No. 6 Maloney, but the CIAC discovered Thursday night that the Bristol Eastern-Bristol Central game was reported incorrectly (Bristol Central actually), allowing Windsor to earn 10 extra bonus points and take the No. 3 seed away from the Falcons.
Fitch held a 27-0 lead with 9:26 left in third period, suggesting that this game might be a candidate for a running clock. And then? Yikes.
"We saw it all pregame," Fitch coach Mike Ellis said. "Loosey goosey. We know from seeing Ledyard on film they play hard. There's a lot of pride over there. They deserve a lot of credit over there."
After the game, Ellis told his players Ledyard "played with more gumption than we did."
Suddenly, Collin Wiltshire scored on the last play of the third period to make it 27-6. Wiltshire later caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Jacob Sylvia and it was 27-13. And then came the play that caught the attention of the entire crowd:
Stanley Green caught a long double pass for a touchdown and it was a one-score game with 3:18 left.
"It was terrible," senior Tyler Andrews said. "We started falling apart."
The Colonels, left for dead only minutes earlier, had an energized sideline. They even stopped Fitch on downs and had a chance with 30 seconds left.
That's when Figueroa's interception led to a major exhale from the Eastern Connecticut Conference Div. I champs.
"I was thinking 'don't drop it,'" Figueroa said.
Andrews led the Falcons with 139 rushing yards, including an 86-yard touchdown run in the second period. Nelli ran for two scores and threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Figueroa late in the first half.
Ledyard, trailing 6-0, nearly tied the game in the second period when lineman Nick Whipple scooped a loose ball and ran 50 yards for a touchdown. The play, however, was called back for a block in the back, a call whose significance grew as Ledyard crept closer late in the game.
Fitch, meanwhile, has a chance to savor an undefeated regular season nobody ever saw coming. At least until the Falcons get ready for Maloney.
"I had a feeling we'd be good," Andrews said. "But not like this."
Figueroa: "I thought 5-5 or 6-4. But it's good to be undefeated."