Harris, East Lyme's defense saves the day in 12-7 win over New London
East Lyme — All East Lyme football coach Rudy Bagos saw at first was a scrum after New London ran a play from his team's 7-yard line.
Then he noticed East Lyme senior Blake Harris.
"(The Whalers) were moving and then all of the sudden I see Blake just come out of pile (with the ball)," Bagos said, "and he's just moving and I'm like, 'Oh, God. Oh, god' because I thought they were going to get him. 'Cover the ball! Cover the ball!' But I tell you what, he just kept moving."
Harris returned the fumble 94 yards to open the second quarter for the game's first score, one of five turnovers for the Vikings' defense. They needed every one of them to scrape past the Whalers, 12-7, in an Eastern Connecticut Conference Division I game.
That the Vikings won was astonishing given what they had to overcome — New London had a resounding 345 to 87 edge in yards.
The Whalers also had an edge in plays (62-35) and East Lyme went three-and-out on all four of its second-half drives.
"Defensively, New London is about as good as it gets," Bagos said. "They're athletic. They're tough. They swarm to the ball. We just couldn't do anything. We were just on defense all the time and the defense stepped up the whole game."
Senior Will Anglin recovered two fumbles for East Lyme (4-4, 1-1) and classmate Mason Gallo had another. Senior Mason Senkow also had an interception.
"We kept getting stops," Anglin said.
New London (4-3, 0-2), meanwhile, may want to burn the game film. It turned the ball over after reaching the Vikings' 30, 7 and 10.
"Shooting ourselves in the foot is something that we've dealt with a little earlier in the season," Whalers head coach Johnny Burns said. "We felt like we had made corrections to that, and I think today was by far the worst of our ball security, hurting ourselves.
"We played a good team today. Credit to them for what they were able to do and make us pay for our costly mistakes."
New London senior Josiah Williams ran 26 times for 135 yards and a touchdown. Classmate Rhodia Perry added 14 carries for 91 yards and completed 5 of 13 passes for 74 yards.
The Whalers had second-and-3 at the East Lyme 7 to start the second quarter.
New London proceeded to fumble the ball and Harris scooped it up and began sprinting down the Vikings' sideline.
"I give all that credit to track," said Harris, who runs hurdles and the 300. "I tell people all the time that it does wonders.
"I also have to give credit to (senior) Danny Brothers, my lineman. He knocked (the ball) out for me. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time. It's just one of those things where you see open field and you just want to go for it, man. When I got to the 50 all I saw was green and it was the best feeling in the world."
Senior Rowan Mundell ran for an 8-yard touchdown with 2 minutes, 11 seconds remaining in the half to increase the Vikings' lead to 12-0.
The Whalers took the opening kickoff and went 71 yards on 12 plays to get to the Vikings' 10. Senkow intercepted a pass in the end zone on a third-and-4 play.
New London finally got on the board when Williams scored on a 1-yard run with 6:28 left in the game.
The Whalers got down to the East Lyme 28 with under two minutes left before turning it over on downs.
"It just felt like New London had the ball the whole time and they were just moving and moving, and we would bend but we wouldn't break," Bagos said. "We would just get some fumbles and an interception. It's unbelievable."
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