Ledyard rallies for 28-21 victory over Stonington

Stonington — This one was a lesson from the Ledyard High School football team on how not to give up.

The Colonels, down to 23 players on the sideline standing shoulder-to-shoulder Friday night for the national anthem, lost its lead to Stonington before coming from behind for a 28-21 victory, Ledyard's first Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II win of the season.

"First of all, you got to love the game," Ledyard senior quarterback Brayden Grim said, asked for his secret to perseverance. "I've been playing this game my whole life. Everyone here's dedicated to playing.

"These guys are my brothers out here. I'm going to fight with them even when we're losing."

Ledyard (2-7, 1-3) trailed 21-20 when it got the ball back with 8 minutes, 51 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. The Colonels took over at the Stonington 43-yard line following a punt.

Grim gained seven yards for a first down on third-and-7 from the 40. Ledyard's next first down came on a 9-yard pass from Grim to Walker Lenz, putting the ball at the 22. Grim gained 10 yards to the left on his next carry, followed by a 9-yard gain from Robbie Petriel.

Grim scored on second-and-1 from the 3 with 5:20 remaining, then got the call for the two-point conversion attempt, as well, which he completed for the final margin.

Grim also plays outside linebacker for the Ledyard defense, which then held Stonington through two more possessions, keeping the Bears winless at 0-9 overall, 0-4 in division play.

Both teams are now off until Thanksgiving Day. Ledyard plays at Fitch and Stonington is home against Westerly.

"Twenty-three? I knew it was less than 25," Ledyard coach Clay Killingsworth said of his depleted squad, partly due to injury and partly because of attrition. "Some guys didn't stay with the program for whatever reason. We got what we got.

"It's the players, it's them," Killingsworth added, asked about the comeback. "I tell them don't look at the scoreboard until it's triple zeroes, which is easier said than done. It starts with my seniors and they keep fighting."

Ledyard carried it right down the field to score on its first possession of the game, getting a 31-yard touchdown run from Jaiden Bickham. Grim had a pair of big gains, as well, on the 67-yard drive, including first-down rushes of 13 and 14 yards to set up Bickham.

Ledyard had an interception and a missed field goal on its next two possessions and, although the Colonels were stopped at the Stonington 34 the next time down, they were gradually picking up field position.

Stonington punted on its next series and Ledyard took over near midfield. The Colonels needed just three plays to score on runs by Grim, Bickham and, finally, a 28-yard rush by Grim, making it 14-0.

Stonington got on the board with 1:07 remaining in the second quarter on a 4-yard run by Josh Curtin. Curtin carried the ball to the 8 the play before and drew a facemask penalty, as well, pushing the line of scrimmage half the distance to the goal line.

Stonington had a big third quarter. The Bears scored on the first drive of the second half on a 9-yard pass from Drew Champagne to Curtin to even the score at 14.

Three plays later, Grim was intercepted by Stonington sophomore Colin Startz, who returned it 41 yards for a touchdown and a 21-14 lead following Josh Mooney's kick.

Ledyard answered two plays later with a 68-yard touchdown run by Bickham, but Bickham missed the kick to leave the Colonels down 21-20 with 4:56 remaining in the quarter.

v.fulkerson@theday.com

 

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