SOUTH WINDSOR - It was a playoff atmosphere at South Windsor High School on a chilly Saturday morning as the 10th-ranked Southington football team took on the 19th-ranked Bobcats.
It certainly played like a playoff game. But it was the Blue Knights who came up short, falling to South Windsor in overtime 30-27 after a 23-yard field goal from Cameron Plourde.
At 8-2, Southington remains on the cusp of the of the Class LL playoff rankings, two spots behind the Bobcats.
“You’ll learn from it,” Blue Knights head coach Mike Drury said. “In situations where we could have pulled things away a few times or made some plays in certain situations so you learn from how important those situations are.”
Southington held a 21-7 lead going into the halftime locker room as field position played a key part on two of its three touchdown drives in an evenly matched first half.
In the second half, that field position advantage was not there as both teams started on their own side of the field in all but two drives and with it came an exciting second half of football.
The Bobcats got right back into the game on the first drive of the third quarter with a touchdown and played the better half of football outscoring the Blue Knights 20-6 to force overtime.
But South Windsor’s defense, helped out by a penalty call on the Blue Knights, denied Southington any points. The Bobcats took over with the game tied 27-27 and the opportunity to walk away with the win was there with either a field goal or touchdown ending it.
South Windsor decided to go with Plourde. All Southington could do was watch the football sail through the uprights as the Bobcats stormed the field to celebrate with Plourde.
South Windsor started the second half with the football. On their own 20-yard line, the Bobcats quarterback, Connor Kapisak, found Collin Ryan for a 63-yard touchdown pass. Following Plourde’s extra point the scoreboard read 21-14 with 9:47 left in the third quarter.
“We had to come out in the second half and execute better in certain situations,” Drury said. “We had to execute how we were in the first half but unfortunately we didn’t.”
The Blue Knights, however, would answer on their first drive of the second half that started from their own 37-yard line.
Ryan Montalvo ran for 28 yards on the drive and quarterback Will Barmore capped it off with a 16-yard touchdown run on a quick possession with Southington using just over a minute of the clock.
Evan Johanns missed the extra point and the Bobcats once again found themselves down more than a touchdown with the score 27-14.
But it was far from over.
South Windsor answered right back on a 76-yard touchdown drive that used up over seven minutes of the clock. Kapisak finished it off with a 10-yard touchdown pass to his big full back Jimmy Tamburo.
It was Kapisak’s second passing touchdown of the half and there was just under a minute left in the third quarter.
On their next possession, the Blue Knights were facing a 4th-and-1 to start the fourth quarter.
The Bobcats defense held strong stuffing Montalvo and South Windsor took over at the Southington 32-yard line. With a good scoring opportunity, Kapisak had his toughest drive of the game with a pair of incomplete passes followed up with an interception by Joe Koczera, who returned it to Southington’s 46-yard line.
It seemed as if Southington was going to put the game away after Montalvo ripped off a 17-yard run, putting the ball on the South Windsor 22-yard line right outside of the red zone.
However a pair of sacks of Barmore forced the Blue Knights to punt the ball back to the Bobcats giving them another chance to take the lead down just six points and needing a touchdown and an extra point to take their first lead of the game.
Kapisak quickly got over his interception as he once again found Ryan streaking down the field on a similar play with Ryan wide open again on the sidelines and using his speed en route to a 56-yard touchdown catch with 5:56 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“We’ll have to look at that,” Drury said. “It looked like there might have been a breakdown somewhere. They just hit us up the sideline and somebody’s eyes got away from him and that guy [Ryan] ran free.”
Plourde came on for the point after attempt and if he converted it the Bobcats would hold a 28-27 lead.
In a huge momentum altering play, Southington’s Anthony Vecchio got through the South Windsor offensive line and blocked the extra point to keep the game tied at 27-27.
Southington was still very much alive.
Neither team could do anything on their next possessions.
Although, the Blue Knights saw one final opportunity and it was their final drive of the second half.
Barmore opened up the last possession with a 33-yard pass to Jimmy Ringrose setting Southington up at the South Windsor 40-yard line.
A 14-yard run by Barmore followed and he looked to be in command with the clock ticking down.
But South Windsor’s Ronnie Pinkard broke up what would have been a touchdown pass on 2nd-and-8.
Two more incomplete passes followed on third and fourth down and the Bobcats took the ball over again but struggled to generate any offense and Kapisak took a knee.
South Windsor decided to take its chances in overtime.
The Blue Knights took the ball first and on a 3rd-and-7 thought they had a touchdown pass before the penalty flag hit the turf silencing the crowd as they waited to hear the call.
It was a game changing personal foul penalty called against Southington and backed the Blue Knights up with a third down from 15 yards out.
The Bobcats Mike DaCosta intercepted Barmore and South Windsor took over with the game in its control as all it needed was a field goal or a touchdown to walk away with the win.
Three plays didn’t net much yardage and as result Plourde came on for a 23-yard field goal attempt that went through the uprights handing Southington its second loss of the season and putting a dent into the Blue Knights’ playoff hopes.
With the loss Southington fell to 7-2 on the season and South Windsor advanced to 8-1.
“It was a tough game,” Southington offensive lineman Jimmy Starr said. “They played hard and we played hard but we have to bounce back and make the playoffs.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @OrencoleDan