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Lancers roll to ECC Div. II win

Waterford — Ryan Bakken, who has thrown for nearly 1,000 yards already this season, said this early Friday night:

"Some of our new guys here only know what's happening right now: that we're winning," he said after Waterford High School won again, 40-14 over Bacon Academy. "But I was here for 0-10 and 3-7. And to see the guys who played with me during those times have all this success now is the best feeling I've ever had in sports."

Consider that Bakken's had some pretty great feelings in sports already, playing on state championship basketball and baseball teams last year, too.

Ah, but this is the football season of 2019. And the Lancers took a declarative step toward the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II title. Waterford (4-0) is unbeaten in the division (2-0) along with 1-0 Woodstock Academy.

Bakken threw for 176 yards and four touchdowns, giving him 922 yards and 18 touchdown passes as Waterford heads to its bye week.

"Team effort today," he said. "I thought our defense played a really big part in this."

It did. The Lancers used interceptions from Matt Olbrys and Gage Henry as well as a sack from Jeremy Hynek to hand Bacon its first loss.

It was not, however, as easy as 40-14 might suggest. Waterford trailed 7-0 in the second quarter and watched as Bacon (3-1, 1-1) had a first-and goal with six minutes left in the half. But Sean Baldyga missed a 24-yard field goal, ultimately allowing a long drive that led to Jackson Harshberger's 2-yard touchdown run.

Waterford led 13-7 at the half, capitalizing on Bacon's fake punt attempt with a minute left in the second quarter. Bacon had a fourth-and-one at its 29 and opted for an unsuccessful fake. Bakken hit Payton Sutman with an 8-yard touchdown pass that gave Waterford the lead for good.

"I think we might have come out a little over-hyped," Waterford coach John Strecker said. "We actually needed to run the ball. It's kind of interesting that on a day when we're all thinking about (late Ledyard coach) Bill Mignault, that our offensive line played so well. Their best game of the season."

Bakken hit Sam Menders (22 yards), Michael Vincent (11 yards) and Sutman (50 yards) with touchdown passes in the second half, sandwiched around Christian Hightower's 16-yard touchdown run.

"We knew Bacon was a good team and that they'd probably play a prevent," Bakken said. "Maybe drop nine into coverage a few times. That's why we knew we might have to grind this out. We did that. And made some big plays, too."

m.dimauro@theday.com


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