East Lyme comes unglued late in loss to Norwalk

East Lyme — A team filled with new, untested players, East Lyme proved for a half that it could still perform with a great deal of flare. But it was the finish the Vikings were lacking.

The Norwalk High School football team outscored East Lyme 27-3 in the second half Friday night for a 41-24 victory over the Vikings in the opener for both teams.

East Lyme led 21-14 at halftime and it wasn't that close, you could say, with Tommy Mason rushing for a pair of first-quarter touchdowns and Chris Salemme slinging a 35-yard touchdown to Spencer Duthrie on third-and-22 with 4 minutes, 26 seconds to go in the half.

Safety Will Flaherty then intercepted Norwalk quarterback Thomas Brown on the next play from scrimmage.

But East Lyme couldn't close it.

The Vikings began unraveling right from the start in the third quarter. They were stopped on fourth-and-1 from the Norwalk 29 on their first possession. Then, after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on East Lyme moved Norwalk 15 yards closer, Norwalk scored on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Brown to Jamal Boyd to tie it, with the momentum switching fields just like that.

“We just were our own worst enemy,” East Lyme coach Rudy Bagos said. “Moving down (the field) and you get a bad snap or we get a kid ejected and that's 15 yards. We were up. We had a chance to really put it on 'em in the first half.

“That's what happens with a young team. We're going to get our growing pains.”

East Lyme graduated high-octane all-stars Dylan Hatajik at wide receiver and Isaac Tomblin at running back, as well as most of the offensive line from last year's 7-3 team.

“These guys are good, too,” said Bagos, who got big efforts from Mason (24 carries, 127 yards, 2 TDs) and Blane Hart at running back and from Duthrie (16 catches, 116 yards, 1 TD) and Cam Hart receiving.

Salemme was 14-for-22 for 216 yards.

East Lyme led only once more, though, taking a 24-21 edge as time expired in the third quarter on a 27-yard field goal by Kent Place.

But Norwalk, which ran back the opening kickoff earlier for 85 yards, dusted off the big play once again to start the fourth quarter.

Brown hit Jerome Moorer — author of the earlier kick return — for a 62-yard touchdown pass for a 27-24 lead and, after an East Lyme punt, the Bears got a 29-yard touchdown run from Jakari Walker to lead 34-24.

East Lyme drove to the Norwalk 27, but a Salemme pass was incomplete on fourth-and-3 and Norwalk capitalized once again on a big play, with Walker taking off for a 57-yard gain down to the Vikings 16. Two plays later, Walker scored from 11 yards out for the final margin with 4:53 to play.

In the first half, East Lyme scored on its first two series, a 1-yard run and a 2-yard run by Mason, to lead 14-8.

Norwalk tied it on a 49-yard keeper by Brown with 6:45 remaining in the half before Salemme hit Duthrie with the touchdown pass for the halftime lead.

v.fulkerson@theday.com

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