H.S. football: East Lyme rallies past Harding 15-12, improves to 3-0

Bridgeport — East Lyme's Rudy Bagos has great respect for two of the state's powerhouse conferences, the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference and the Southern Connecticut Conference.

That's why he relishes the opportunity when the Vikings get the chance to lock horns with teams from west of the Connecticut River.

"I understand what people think of the SCC and FCIAC," Bagos said. "They're really good conferences, probably two of the better in the state, but we like to show that (the Eastern Connecticut Conference) has got some teams that can play as well."

East Lyme proved its point again Saturday. Two weeks removed from a 17-0 win over Westhill of the FCIAC, the Vikings rallied for a 15-12 victory over Harding of the SCC.

"Our kids get pumped up and historically have played well in these games," said Bagos, whose Vikings opened the season 3-0 for the first time since 2009 (East Lyme went 9-1 that year and reached the Class MM state championship game). "To be in this position is great for us."

East Lyme's defense surrendered its first points of the season, as the Vikings trailed 12-7 in the fourth quarter. The defense followed that, however, by producing a safety which jumpstarted East Lyme's rally.

Caleb Smith tackled a Harding back for a loss in the end zone that pulled East Lyme within 12-9 with seven minutes remaining. The Vikings then went on a methodical drive that ended when Owen Robbins threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Cam Hart with 1:52 remaining.

Harding (1-2) was driving for a go-ahead score when Josh Morton got a hand on quarterback Nazjar Curry, forced a fumble at the East Lyme 10, and teammate TJ Horner recovered to secure the victory.

Curry had thrown a 60-yard touchdown pass to Marcell Robinson on the game's first play to give the Presidents a 6-0 lead, but East Lyme scored on its first possession on Hart's 46-yard run and Will Anglin's extra point gave the Vikings a 7-6 lead.

Hart finished with 173 rushing yards on 22 carries.

In other games:

• Valley Regional/Old Lyme lost more than just its first game, 39-14 to Coginchaug/Hale-Ray/East Hampton in the Pequot Conference Sassacus Division. The Warriors (2-1, 2-1) likely lost quarterback Jack Cox for the season.

Cox suffered a left knee injury on Valley/OL's fifth offensive play, a 59-yard completion, and coach Tim King fears it will be season-ending.

"Psychologically it backed us up the whole game," said King, "although that doesn't excuse our defense."

Coginchaug built a 20-0 halftime lead and after sophomore James Marsden, who replaced Cox, ran 45 yards early in the third quarter to pull the Warriors within 20-7, Coginchaug scored on an 80-yard pass moments later and Valley/OL never recovered.

Anthony Rosario added a 14-yard touchdown run for the Warriors, who were plagued by six turnovers and 10 penalties, while Marsden rushed for 102 yards.

"James did a great job for being thrown in there with very little reps," King said.

• Three Rivers knocked off previously unbeaten Prince Tech 35-0 in a Connecticut Technical Conference game at Norwich Tech. Seth Jones (45 yards), Logan Starr (40) and Alexander Zair (15) had rushing touchdowns for the Crusaders (2-1, 2-1) while Jackson Brenek threw a touchdown pass and Nick Miller scooped up a blocked punt and ran 20 yards for another TD.

"I'm proud of our guys," coach Darin Jones said. "We started to fire on all cylinders, and it showed on both sides of the ball."

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