The highly touted Hurricanes of Hartford won their high school football season-opener Friday, but their 13-7 victory over Colchester was in doubt deep into the fourth quarter.
Trailing by the six points, the Lakers drove from their own 14 to the Hartford 22 in the game’s final minutes but couldn’t finish the upset bid.
“It was certainly an inspired effort and it was exciting,” said Lakers coach Tom Perry after the defeat in which both teams showed an early season propensity to commit costly mistakes via fumbles, interceptions or penalties.
“You’ve got to give them credit. They played well in the second half and we dropped the ball too many times. They out-physicaled us in the second half and they outplayed us in the second half,” Hartford coach Mike Stone said.
For the Lakers, those miscues included a fumble on their own 9 that set up the Hurricanes’ first touchdown, a holding call that negated a long completion late in the third and two interceptions, the last of which stopped Colchester’s final drive.
“We don’t want to make those mistakes,” said Perry, who said that the underdog Lakers “didn’t come to play well; we came to win.
“We don’t worry about winning. We worry about doing the things we need to do and those mistakes probably were not those things today, Perry said. “They made (mistakes) too but to beat a team like that, sometimes they have to (make mistakes) and we just can’t.”
After Hartford recovered the Lakers’ fumble on the 9, Josh Claflin (18 carries, 84 yards) slammed in from the 2 for a 7-0 Hurricanes’ lead with 1:59 remaining in the first quarter. At 7:27 of the second, Claflin finished off a 12-play, 62-yard drive with a 1-yard plunge for the 13-0 lead.
With 1:01 remaining in the third quarter, Colchester’s David Lacroix (7 carries, 79 yards; 2 receptions, 47 yards) raced 61 yards down the left sideline to slash Hartford’s lead to 13-7.
Colchester then recovered an on-side kick at the Hartford 49 but a holding call wiped out a long gain. On the subsequent punt, the snap sailed high and Hartford took over on the Lakers’ 20, only to fumble two plays later.
With 4:32 remaining in the fourth, Bobby Brigante (8 carries for 43 yards; 3-12-2 for 52 yards) started Colchester’s last drive with a 38-yard completion to Lacroix. However, two incompletions and a fourth-down interception thwarted the Lakers at the Hartford 22.
“Bobby is just such a determined athlete. This will drive him crazy all weekend because he’s going to feel like he could have made a play that could have won the game,” Perry said of Brigante. “David LaCroix, obviously super-talented, with the long run … and the one for me was Corey Benoit; he had a game, a couple of nice plays on offense but defensively he was our best player today.”
Joe Wood was the game’s top rusher with 91 yards on 16 carries for Hartford as the Hurricanes piled up 267 yards rushing.