NFA scores on game's final play to stun Killingly 27-21

Norwich — Andrew Cote got the ball on the dead run. And he kept running to the end zone, each step more convincing than the last, to illustrate how the miraculous was about to become a current event.

Cote, a senior at Norwich Free Academy whose nimble feet allowed his team to tie the game moments earlier on a two-point conversion catch, caught a hook-and-ladder flip from Max Pierre-Louis on the game's final play Friday night. He ran the last 20 yards for a touchdown, rallying the Wildcats to a wild 27-21 win over Killingly in Division I of the Eastern Connecticut Conference.

NFA (5-3, 3-0), sits alone atop the division. And the Wildcats are there only because they stormed back from eight points down in the final 2:48.

"An amazing feeling. The emotions are so high," Cote said, amid a jubilant postgame scene on NFA's turfed lawn.

The game was tied at 21 in the final minute when Killingly's Jack Sharpe, who ran for 186 yards, mistakenly went out of bounds with 33 seconds left to stop the clock. It forced the Red Hawks (7-1, 2-1) to punt, giving NFA one last chance.

Cote barely missed a game-winning 44-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jayden Desilus on what was thought to be the game's final play. The officials put one second back on the clock.

And that's when Desilus threw a strike to Pierre Louis, who patiently waited for Cote.

"I just had to make sure I secured the ball," Pierre Louis said. "We run it every day in practice. As I saw Andrew coming at me, I thought, 'this is gonna be a touchdown.'"

He was correct.

"I actually started the play in a jog, like I was going to take the play off," Cote said. "We do it all the time in practice."

NFA tied the game moments earlier when Desilus hit Cote with a 38-yard scoring pass. The two-point conversion came from the seven after a false start penalty. Desilus hit Cote in the back of the end zone.

"It was close," Cote said. "I was a little scared I wouldn't stay in bounds."

Killingly used a pair of nine-minute drives in the second half to limit NFA's possessions. The second one, which came after a goal-line stand and blocked field goal, resulted in quarterback Jacob Nurse's two-yard touchdown run with 2:48 left.

It's the second straight season the Red Hawks have lost on the game's last play. New London (Owen George to Frankie Pratts) upset Killingly last season.

"Killingly is the staple of this conference," NFA coach Jason Bakoulis said. "For our guys to win one like this ... it just goes back to what we tell them every day. Just play one rep at a time."

m.dimauro@theday.com

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