PLAINVILLE — The Plainville football team’s rivalry game against Farmington, and its state tournament hopes, all came down to one defensive stand Thursday morning.
While Griswold and Wolcott were winning their season finales to open the door for the Blue Devils as one of the last teams in the Class S tournament, Plainville picked up a sack on third down and an incompletion on the next play to hold off the Indians in a dramatic 27-21 win at home in the most recent installment of the Olde Canal Cup.
As the Blue Devils lined up in victory formation after the defensive stop, the out-of-town scores were announced over the loudspeakers, prompting the celebration to kick up a few extra notches as the clock struck zero.
“All we could have controlled is what we did,” Plainville coach Tim Shea said. “I didn’t want to know what happened in the other games. I just didn’t want to know. We just wanted to take care of what we could control, and if the chips fell, we’d keep playing. And we are.”
It looked like Plainville was losing its grasp on what it could control in the second half Thursday when a 14-point lead vanished thanks to two touchdowns by the Indians in less than five minutes in the third quarter, but after his fumble led to the game-tying score, Blue Devils quarterback Christian Collin ran in what proved to be the game-winning touchdown, his third rushing score of the day, to give Plainville the lead with 7:48 left.
“It was huge,” Collin said of his third touchdown run. “The whole game was back and forth. We were just able to make one more play.”
Plainville seemed to make all the plays it needed in the first 20 minutes of the first half, including a 39-yard completion from Collin to Dominick Chambrello, who went up and snagged the pass in tight coverage to set up the Blue Devils inside the red zone to end the first quarter. On the first play from scrimmage in the second, Collin took a designed keeper 13 yards into the end zone to give the Blue Devils a 7-0 lead.
The Plainville secondary jumped on Conrad on the following drive when Collin picked off a deep pass at the Blue Devils 35-yard line to spoil another Farmington drive, after Tanner Callahan picked up his own interception on the Indians’ first drive, marking three straight possessions where the defense wiped away big plays for the Indians. Earlier in the quarter, with Farmington in punt formation, a bad snap prompted Conrad to scoop up the loose ball and look up to see nothing but open space, as Plainville’s punt return had already retreated to field a punt that never came. Instead, Conrad picked up 33 yards on a broken play that turned into one of their largest gains of the day, but the Blue Devils still forced a turnover later in the drive.
Plainville couldn’t capitalize on its ensuing drive after the second intercepton, but did later in the quarter thanks to an eight play, 65-yard drive capped off by Collin again, who punched in another rushing touchdown from four yards out to go ahead 14-0.
The Blue Devils looked poised to head into halftime with a two-touchdown advantage, but the Indians finally connected on a deep ball to set up their first score of the day. After a broken reverse pass play turned into an 18-yard loss due to an intentional grounding call on Devin Wagor, Farmington was backed up to midfield with just over a minute left in the half. But on the next play, Conrad connected with Michael Gregory for a 40-yard strike, then again for an 8-yard touchdown pass with 1:04 left in half, cutting Plainville’s lead to 14-7 at the break.
The Indians may have grabbed a bit of momentum to close the first, half, but Plainville seemed to take it back to open the second. After driving over midfield, Collin flipped a screen pass to Javan Paradis, who broke a pair of tackles and tip-toed the sideline for a 47-yard score to put the Blue Devils back in front by 14 midway through the third quarter. But Farmington answered right back two minutes later with the help of a facemask penalty on Plainville and a 28-yard touchdown run on a keeper from Conrad, pulling the Indians back within seven.
Looking for a response, the Blue Devils instead watched the Indians tie the game. Collin was stripped while winding back for a pass, allowing Farmington to take over on Plainville’s 19-yard line. As the final seconds of the third quarter ticked away, Finn Sposato ran in a 4-yard touchdown as the clock hit zero to send the game to the fourth quarter, knotted at 21 apiece.
“It felt like we let it slip away a little bit, but I knew we’ve been in these situations before and prevailed,” Callahan said. “So we kept working at it.”
In a game that had quickly turned into a shootout, the Blue Devils regained the lead behind Collin, and later in the quarter, the defense stopped Sposato on fourth down inside Plainville’ 5-yard line to end a seven-minute drive for Farmington. After a quick three-and-out, the Indians had one last chance, but Conrad took a 9-yard loss when he was sacked at the Blue Devils’ 41-yard line, and his desperation heave on fourth down fell harmlessly to the turf, sending Plainville to the postseason.
“They’re a very good football team,” Shea said. “Their quarterback is excellent. We knew when they had the ball at the end, that we just had to make one more play than they did, and we did.”
Plainville locked up the No. 7 seed with the win thanks to owning the tiebreaker over No. 8 Plainfield. It will face No. 2 Bullard Havens Tech in the quarterfinals this Tuesday. The time of the game is still to be determined.
Plainville 27, Farmington 21
Farmington (5-5) 0 7 14 0 – 21
Plainville (8-2) 0 14 7 6 – 27
P: Christian Collin 13 run (Dylan Brewer kick) 11:58
P: Collin 4 run (Brewer kick) 2:55
F: Jacob Conrad 8 pass to Michael Gregory (Conrad kick) 1:04
P: Collin 47 pass to Paradis (Brewer kick) 7:37
F: Conrad 28 run (Conrad kick) 4:32
F: Finn Sposato 4 run (Conrad kick) 0:00
P: Collin 10 run (Brewer kick no good) 7:48
Rushing – P: Collin 19-87-3TD, Beau Lasher 7-36. F: Sposato 22-84-TD, Conrad 8-69-TD.
Passing – P: Collin 7-14-150-TD. F: Conrad 22-36-198-TD-2INT.
Receiving – P: Paradis 2-55-TD, Dominick Chambrello 3-65, Dylan Hall 2-30. F: Gregory 8-95-TD, Mitchell Guglielmo 3-29, Niko Bouzikas 5-36.