Fitch wakes up in time to beat Ledyard for fourth straight year
Groton — Mike Ellis tried to warn his Fitch football team not to sleep on Ledyard.
It took the Falcons one half to get the message.
Fitch had the ball for only the final 57.4 seconds in the second quarter on Thanksgiving morning as the Colonels thoroughly outplayed the Falcons and led by five points at halftime.
Fitch senior Seamus McKenna jolted his team out of its lethargy with an early third-quarter interception as the Falcons turned that turnover into points and won 21-12 at Dorr Field to keep the Colonel Ledyard Sword in their house for the fourth straight year.
“I told them at halftime that it’s in your hands,” Ellis said. “‘We tried to tell you that Ledyard was going to come to play. … They’re not going to give up and roll over.”
Fitch sophomore Greg Santora said, “There was a lot of yelling (at halftime). There might have been a couple of curse words in there, too.”
Santora got his first start at fullback for the Falcons (6-4) and ran 21 times for 88 yards. He also had a sack and earned the Thomas Newell Player of the Game award as Fitch’s game MVP, named after the program’s first head coach.
“We were able to control the clock (in the second half) and he really did a nice job of driving that ball down the field,” Ellis said. “I thought he did a fabulous job for his first time.”
Junior quarterback Josh Letellier scored on runs of 14 and 1 yards in the third quarter for Fitch. Senior Steve Cantres ran for a 14-yard touchdown for the game’s first points and junior Noah Charron ran for a two-point conversion and had a sack and an interception.
Senior Brayden Grim earned the Bill Mignault Player of the Game award for Ledyard (2-8), named for the program’s founding father who died in October. Grim scored on runs of 1 and 11 yards.
“It was a battle,” Grim said. “A rivalry battle, you never know what’s going to happen. I thought we played our hearts out. It was a great last game.’
Ledyard held on to the ball for almost the entire second quarter thanks to a combination of its scrappiness and the Falcons’ carelessness. It scored twice and recovered two onside kicks to take a 12-7 halftime lead.
The Colonels had third-and-10 at midfield early in the third quarter when McKenna made his interception to give Fitch the ball at the Ledyard 46.
“We needed someone to step up, and Seamus stepped up,” Ellis said. “I’m so happy for him in his last game.”
Fitch scored on its ensuing drive. Pelletier ran for a 13-yard touchdown and Charron ran in the conversion to put the Falcons back ahead, 15-6, with 3:28 remaining in the third.
Fitch got the ball back less than two minutes at the Ledyard 22 after a punt went nearly straight up in the air.
Pelletier scored on a 1-yard run to push the Falcons’ lead to 21-12 with 7.1 seconds left in the third.
“We’re very lucky to walk out of there with a win today,” Ellis said.
Two Fitch personal fouls helped extend Ledyard’s first touchdown drive, one of which was a roughing-the-passer foul on fourth-and-goal.
Grim went on to run for a 1-yard touchdown. The extra point failed, so the Falcons kept their 7-6 lead with 6:26 remaining in the half.
The Colonels attempted to pop the ball up on ensuing kickoff. The wind carried it high in the air, and it fell into the hands of Ledyard senior Caden Foote at the Fitch 36.
Grim ran for an 11-yard touchdown to put the Colonels ahead, 12-7, with 2:21 left in the half. The two-point conversion failed.
“They played their butts off,” Ledyard head coach Clay Killingsworth said. “The seniors that stuck with the program and continued to make it fun to come to practice. … they’re teaching the young guys. I told them they’re the team that hopefully is going to turn this program around because of the stuff they did.”
Stories that may interest you
The Killingly wrestling team won two more matches by pin than Montville to help it win 39-33 on Wednesday night.
By the time he retired in 2002, Wootten had won 1,274 games and lost 192.
Back when Courtney Gomez was the point guard at Norwich Free Academy, she recalls the gym being like this. Packed. Noisy.