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    Saturday, April 01, 2023

    Colonels can’t overcome turnovers; lose to Panthers

    Cromwell – Surely, a number of strategical considerations have occupied the hours of Ledyard High School’s coaching staff in recent days, what with the task of playing Cromwell/Portland, the defending state champs, in the 2022 Class SS quarterfinals Tuesday night at Pierson Park.

    But there was something else more haunting and daunting for the Colonels, who ran on the field only five days removed from the bitter disappointment of watching the Colonel Ledyard Sword, the prize that goes to the Thanksgiving Day victor, stay at Fitch.

    And so coach Mike Serricchio has spent ample time wondering in recent days whether his players could flush last week’s disappointment. Is the tug of postseason opportunity mightier than the Sword?

    It turned out the Colonels showed the maturity coach Mike Serricchio wanted. But they couldn’t overcome two second-half fumbles that ultimately ended their season.

    Ledyard lost a 26-17 lead in the third period and eventually lost the game, 43-34.

    “I’m proud of them,” Serricchio said of his team. “We framed it to them after the Fitch game that we’re the underdog and that’s when we play our best, like the Windham game (an overtime win in early November). We’re the eight seed so let it rip. The kids responded.”

    They ripped through Cromwell/Portland’s defense with a number of big plays, including quarterback Jackson Poulton’s 68-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Lenz midway through the third quarter that gave Ledyard a 26-17 lead. Ledyard’s defense blocked a field goal on Cromwell/Portland’s ensuing drive and suddenly, the upset looked real.

    Except the Colonels fumbled on their next possession, leading to Alex Hair’s two-yard run that made it 26-23. Hair caught a 9-yard touchdown pass from Cole Brisson early in the fourth period to give the Panthers the lead, 30-26.

    Another fumble led to Brisson’s 10-yard touchdown run to make it 37-26.

    “The story of the game,” Serricchio said. “Two fumbles and a (77-yard) kickoff return (for a touchdown by Emeka Yearwood early in the third period). “Good teams take advantage of things like that. They’ve been here before and we haven’t. It showed.”

    Poulton’s 65-yard touchdown run made it 37-34, but Ledyard’s defense couldn’t hold, allowing a late score by Daevyon Lovelace to end it.

    Lenz, who played brilliantly on Thanksgiving, did so again here, finishing with 155 rushing yards and scoring runs of 47 and 72 yards.

    “Early in the year, trams weren’t taking away James (Green) so he got a lot of the touches,” Serricchio said. “That’s how the option works. But we knew what we had in Jacob. He deserves every postseason accolade coming his way.

    Ledyard finishes 8-3 with the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II title while Cromwell/Portland (10-1) moves on to host No. 5 Barlow, a 28-14 winner over No. 4 Granby/Canton, in Sunday’s semifinals at 12:30 p.m.


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