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GameDay presents Throwback Thursdays

Let it never be said that home confinement doesn't inspire spasms of ingenuity.

And so we present GameDay's latest epiphany, our version of "Throwback Thursday," showing some GameDay classics from the archives.

We begin this Thursday night with a game that sustains "classic" in every prototype. Nov. 8, 2013: New London 23, Middletown 22. Freshman kicker Garrett Burdick made a 22-yard field goal as time expired, giving the Whalers their fifth straight win at the time, this one over the No. 3 team in the state.

The genesis of the idea came from a recent night on the couch, perhaps indicating that couch potato-ing is underrated. Boston College football is doing its "Throwback Thursdays" by uploading a game from the archives to YouTube and showing it live. Players and coaches from the various games are joining live chats, making it fun and interactive, at least for those of us in Eagledom.

So we got to thinking: Why can't we do that with GameDay?

We will show the New London-Middletown game live at 7 on — as it was seen seven years ago. GameDay producer/director/cleanup hitter/creative genius Peter Huoppi will take it from there.

At halftime, we'll break to a live Zoom chat with some of the night's participants. We have New London's defensive coordinator (and future head coach) Juan Roman, all-state defensive end Hunter Roman and GameDay voice Casey O'Neill scheduled for the Zoom call. There will be others. Lots of good banter about the old days.

We'll do it every Thursday. Heaven knows we have a sizeable menu from the last eight years. Please feel free to send along suggestions from any game you've watched.

The New London-Middletown game happened in GameDay's relative infancy. But it was no less noteworthy. The Whalers were left for dead at 1-2 that year, but had won four straight heading into the game at Cannamela Field. Still, most of us thought they'd be lunchmeat for the Blue Dragons, who had an all-stater in quarterback Dario Highsmith.

New London fell behind 14-0 and 21-7, giving little indication it had enough underneath the hood to mount a meaningful rally. But it turned out the game was a microcosm of the season. Not so great at the beginning, but pretty darn terrific at the end. The Whalers used Burdick's second game-winning field goal of the month on Thanksgiving to beat NFA and make the playoffs — where they'd ironically lose to Middletown. Not bad, though, from 1-2 to 9-2 and the playoffs.

The game-winning drive began on defense — Roman's stout defense that held Middletown to seven points in the final three periods.

The Blue Dragons, coached by good guy Sal Morello, had a third and two near midfield with four minutes remaining. They led 22-20. Highsmith, who already had eclipsed 100 rushing yards and scored three touchdowns, barely made the line of scrimmage, inhaled Hunter Roman, who was already writing his football resume for Yale.

Following a Middletown punt, New London quarterback Danny Maranda hit Jelani Lucas with completions of 29 and 33 yards. The 33-yarder came after Middletown's Jordan Baker and Taqi Bilal collided, leaving Lucas the smallest window.

"Honestly," Lucas said after the game, "I have no idea how I caught that."

The Whalers moved inside the 10 and ran the clock to 2.2 seconds remaining. And here came Burdick, not long after his extra point bid to tie the game had been blocked. Freshman kicker. Freshman holder, too, Melquann Gomez.

"Everyone was saying 'erase it and move on to the next one, the next one is the one,'" Burdick said. "I guess they knew it."

Burdick's kick came from the left hash with Middletown defenders looming from both ends.

"I was very nervous. I really was just so scared," Burdick said. "Only being a freshman, I didn't really know what I was doing out there. I'm proud of myself that I made it."

New London coach Duane Maranda felt the passions of a season — and parts of his life — share the path of the ball through the uprights.

"I saw Dick Beams, I wish he was here for this," Maranda said of his late mentor and former assistant coach. "The adversity. What the outsiders say. But most of all, it was seeing Jose Garcia, Niko Ramos, Orrin Parke, Dante Alston, Ahshon Harkness, all the seniors that have had a tough road and haven't been able to experience wins like this on this field."

"I don't think I'll ever forget this night," Duane Maranda said, hugging various family members on the field after the game.

Now he can remember it all over again. Watch if you can.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro


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