Griswold fights to the finish in Class S quarterfinal loss
Cromwell – Fighting for its postseason survival, Griswold/Wheeler mounted one last fourth quarter drive in an attempt to extend the Class S quarterfinal football game on Tuesday at Pierson Park.
After recovering a fumble, the Wolverines moved the ball and reached the Cromwell/Portland 23-yard line before a sack on fourth down ended their season.
The fourth-seeded Panthers ran out the final three minutes, 22 seconds, to hold on for a 26-18 victory.
“The kids played hard, but we just came out short,” Griswold coach Gregg Wilcox said. “They’re a good team.”
The fifth-seeded Wolverines took their final lead of the game after scoring on the first drive of the third quarter. Senior KinKade Rubino, the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division II Player of the Year, ran it in from the one to hand Griswold an 18-14 advantage.
But the Panthers finished strong, taking the lead for good on Osi Yearwood’s one-yard run in the third quarter and padding their lead on Emeka Yearwood’s 38-yard run.
It’s a tough way for the Wolverines, who finished 9-2 overall during their successful season, to go out.
Mistakes cost them.
“It’s pretty emotional,” Rubino said. “We came up short. We had a lot mistakes that we should have capitalized on. We should have gotten a couple more touchdowns.”
After averaging 40.5 points in the first 10 games, they scored their second lowest point total of the season. Their low mark came in a 12-6 loss to Windham on Sept. 15.
They saw their eight-game winning streak end.
“This is a great bunch of kids, “Wilcox said. “Going 9-1 (during the regular season), that’s a great year. I’ll take it anytime.”
The teams traded punches in an evenly-played first half after which Cromwell led 14-12.
Griswold delivered the first blow.
The Wolverines forced a fumble on the game’s opening drive, with Rubino recovering at the Griswold 45-yard line.
Ten plays later, they capitalized.
Fullback Joshua Turner plowed in from the one for a 6-0 edge.
Cromwell answered on its next drive, marching 78 yards. Quarterback Jess Elfreich threw a beautiful pass to Jack Nolan in the corner of the end zone. A two-point conversion put the Panthers up 8-6 early in the second quarter.
Set up at the Cromwell 45-yard line, run-heavy Griswold surprised the Cromwell defense on first down. Running back Kiyle Montigny got open down field, caught Luke Cassidy’s deep throw and found the end zone.
After a failed two-point try, Griswold held a 12-8 lead.
Penalties contributed to the Wolverines giving up a touchdown. Cromwell took advantage of a 15-yard penalty for a late hit early in the drive. Later, Elfriech connected with Matt Gish for a 11-yard scoring strike and a 14-12 edge.
Griswold qualified for the state tournament for the first time since 2005, years before it joined forces with Wheeler to form a co-op program.
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