Whalers beat Colonels 12-7

New London — The New London football team got its first win of the season on Saturday.

Ledyard made sure it wouldn't be easy.

The Whalers held on for a 12-7 win at Cannamela Field and it came down to three big defensive plays in the final minute to come away with the victory.

"The end of the game might have been more fun for others than it was for me,'' said New London coach Johnny Burns. "A little more excitement than I wanted."

After a scoreless first half, New London (1-2) scored a pair of third-quarter touchdowns to take a 12-0 lead. Ledyard (1-3) got on the scoreboard with 4:47 left in the game and was in New London territory when time ran out.

The Colonels took over on their own 30-yard line with 2:58 left in the game. Robbie Petriel completed three passes to help bring Ledyard down to New London's 38. From there Petriel threw incomplete on first down and saw his pass knocked down by New London's Mustafa Dannett on second down.

On third down it appeared Petriel would complete a pass to Brayden Grim, but New London's Charles Zeigler arrived at the same time as the ball and put a hit on Grim that dislodged the ball for another incomplete pass.

New London cornerback Jaylen Callender knocked a pass away on fourth down intended for Ledyard's Jaiden Bickham and New London quarterback Nathan Hynes took a knee on the final two plays to secure the win.

"Obviously, there's going to be a lot of pressure,'' said Callender of the final drive. "I feel like I did a great job and we did a great job as a whole. It got a little stressful at some points. But me and my team are money.''

New London scored on its first possession of the second half. Callender, who rushed for 128 yards on 17 carries, capped a 57-yard drive with a 10-yard scoring run right up the middle.

Ledyard was driving on its next possession and was on New London's 21 when Grim had a snap sail over his head. He tracked down the loose ball and was attemping to pass when a hit knocked the ball up in the air. Erick McNeil of New London gathered in the loose ball and raced 52 yards for a touchdown that gave New London a 12-0 lead.

Grim scored from a yard out and Bickham's extra point made it 12-7. The big play on the 53-yard drive was a 26-yard pass from Petriel to Grim.

"That's probably the best overall team effort that we've shown,'' said Ledyard coach Clay Killingsworth. "I told them 'walk off with your heads held high, because if you battle like that the other team knows there were in a battle too.'

"We wanted to win the game, we want to win every game,'' said Killingsworth. "But when you see your guys battle the way they did ... I'm proud of them. I can't ask any more.''

With Hynes filling in under center for the injured Frankie Pratts, the Whalers went mostly with their ground game. They rushed the ball 35 times, as opposed to six passes. Sophomore Josiah Williams gained 34 yards on eight carries and junior Keeano Gonzalez had 29 yards on six carries.

"A lot of credit goes to what Ledyard brought to the table,'' said Burns. "And our kids were ready to play.''

d.davis@theday.com

 

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