Valley/Old Lyme football has painful end to season

Valley Regional/Old Lyme’s Nick Braga tries to avoid Haddam-Killingworth’s Jordan Callahan on this run during Tuesday night’s showdown in Deep River. Haddam-Killingworth beat the Warriors 27-21 to qualify for the Class S state playoffs while denying the Warriors a return trip to the postseason. (Kelley Fryer/Shore Publishing for The Day)
Valley Regional/Old Lyme’s Nick Braga tries to avoid Haddam-Killingworth’s Jordan Callahan on this run during Tuesday night’s showdown in Deep River. Haddam-Killingworth beat the Warriors 27-21 to qualify for the Class S state playoffs while denying the Warriors a return trip to the postseason. (Kelley Fryer/Shore Publishing for The Day)

Deep River — The sobbing. One could hear it from coming from the Valley Regional/Old Lyme football team’s postgame huddle more than 10 yards away after Tuesday night’s game.

It was the desperate, desolate sobbing that makes an onlooker wince.

The Warriors were beaten by rival Haddam-Killingworth 27-21 in a Pequot Football Conference Sassacus Division game at Richard B. Blythe Field.

The loss ended Valley/Old Lyme’s six-year hold on the Principal’s Cup.

The loss cost the Warriors a berth in the CIAC Class S playoffs.

The loss ended Valley/Old Lyme’s season in brutal fashion.

“The kids played their hearts out, oh my gosh, right down to the last seconds,” Warriors head coach Tim King said. “You can’t take that away from them, but I’m just absolutely sick about having two touchdowns called back. Just absolutely sick.”

Valley Regional/Old Lyme led 7-6 midway through the second quarter when Nick Braga’s 18-yard touchdown run was called back on a holding penalty.

The Warriors led 14-9 early in the third quarter when Jason O’Brien took a screen pass from Ryan Santos for what looked to be a 39-yard touchdown. That play was also wiped out by penalty.

“In 30 years of coaching, I’ve never had so many touchdowns called back in one season,” King said. “I have to have had 10 touchdowns called back, (including) two tonight. I don’t know what’s going on.”

H-K (9-1, 7-1) clinched a berth in the Class S playoffs.

Valley/Old Lyme (7-2, 5-2) didn’t help itself, either, with mistakes.

The Warriors led 14-9 with under a minute left in the third quarter when the Cougars’ Tobey Callender had his first interception at the Valley/Old Lyme 22.

Dalton Modehn’s 8-yard run put H-K ahead to stay, 15-14, with 10:17 remaining in the game.

Callender intercepted his second pass with over six minutes remaining, returning it 51 yards to the Warriors’ 4.

Callender’s 2-yard run pushed H-K’s lead to 21-14 with over five minutes left.

Dalton Modehn picked off his second pass on Valley/Old Lyme’s second play of its next offensive series, giving the Cougars the ball at their own 31.

Modehn later ran for a 44-yard touchdown as H-K went ahead, 27-14 with 2:09 left.

Modehn ran 22 times for 118 yards and two touchdowns for the Cougars. Callender had 16 carries for 96 yards and two scores.

“We hadn’t beat Valley in a long, long time,” Callender said. “It was past overdue, and I’m just glad I could be part of the team when we did it.”

Ryan Santos completed 24-of-46 passes for 321 yards and three touchdowns for the Warriors. Jason O’Brien had 12 catches for 156 and two touchdowns.

O’Brien also pitched back to Braga after his final catch of the night for a 68-yard hook-and-lateral play that cut Valley/Old Lyme’s deficit to 27-21 with 46.4 seconds left.

The Warriors’ offense, however, struggled with consistency, just as they had all year.

“One step forward and two back,” King said. “We get big plays (and then) we jump off-sides. … Penalties, or we drop the ball.

“It’s the way it’s been all year.”

n.griffen@theday.com

Valley Regional/Old Lyme’s Jae’len Arnum (5) is wrapped up by Haddam-Killingworth’s Jordan Callahan (7) during the Cougars’ 27-21 win over the Warriors on Tuesday night in Deep River. (Kelley Fryer/Shore Publishing for The Day)
Valley Regional/Old Lyme’s Jae’len Arnum (5) is wrapped up by Haddam-Killingworth’s Jordan Callahan (7) during the Cougars’ 27-21 win over the Warriors on Tuesday night in Deep River. (Kelley Fryer/Shore Publishing for The Day)
Valley/Old Lyme's Jason O'Brien (2) turns the corner for a big gain during Tuesday night's game against rival Haddam-Killingworth. H-K beat the Warriors 27-21, earning a Class S playoff berth and ending Valley/OL's postseason hopes. (Kelley Fryer/Shore Publishing for The Day)
Valley/Old Lyme's Jason O'Brien (2) turns the corner for a big gain during Tuesday night's game against rival Haddam-Killingworth. H-K beat the Warriors 27-21, earning a Class S playoff berth and ending Valley/OL's postseason hopes. (Kelley Fryer/Shore Publishing for The Day)
Valle Regional/Old Lyme quarterback Ryan Santos fires a pass during Tuesday night's game against rival Haddam-Killingworth in Deep River. Santos passed for 321 and three touchdowns, but the Warriors were denied a return trip to the Class S playoffs as the Cougars earned a postseason spot with a 27-21 win. (Kelley Fryer/Shore Publishing for The Day)
Valle Regional/Old Lyme quarterback Ryan Santos fires a pass during Tuesday night's game against rival Haddam-Killingworth in Deep River. Santos passed for 321 and three touchdowns, but the Warriors were denied a return trip to the Class S playoffs as the Cougars earned a postseason spot with a 27-21 win. (Kelley Fryer/Shore Publishing for The Day)

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