A halfback pass can be viewed as a play of deception, one that is pulled from the bag of trickery in a coach’s playbook at just the right moment.
The Colchester High School football team practices this sequence — or a variation of it — “nearly every time we work on our offense,” coach Tom Perry said.
Saturday, it was executed to perfection in the Lakers’ time of need.
Running back David Lacroix’s 31-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Scorsome with 1:55 left in regulation was the go-ahead strike in Colchester’s 28-21 victory over Mount Mansfield in a Division I thriller.
Quarterback Bobby Brigante had more than 200 total yards and tossed two touchdown passes, Lacroix also caught and ran for a score apiece, and the Lakers avoided a loss in a game they led 20-0.
Taking Brigante’s pitch on a sweep, Lacroix surveyed the field as he was moving to his left. The speedy senior had been given two options when Perry called the play: If nothing develops down field, tuck it and run.
Lacroix chose the former, airing out a long, but accurate toss to Scorsome, who was hit as he crossed the goal line for the touchdown. Scorsome also hauled in Brigante’s two-point conversion pass, giving the Lakers the seven-point margin.
“We got lucky and the break was there and he had plenty of room to catch the ball,” said Lacroix, who sealed the win with an interception near midfield on MMU’s final possession. “I just chucked it down field and hoped for the best.”
And Colchester’s best was enough to improve to 3-2 overall and remain a viable contender in the fast-developing Division I postseason picture.
“Survival,” said Perry about outlasting a tough-minded Cougars squad that scored 13 points off three Colchester turnovers.
By the second minute of the second quarter, the Lakers raced out to a 20-0 lead on a TD catch from Jared Antoniak (28 yards) and a pair of Lacroix scores, including a nearly untouched 34-yard sprint.
Then, the Cougars mounted a comeback thanks to their opportunistic defense. Jeff Carter recovered a fumble near the Colchester 20-yard line that led to Tyler Ducharme’s 2-yard score with 5:03 left in the half. About four minutes later, Brooks Gay’s interception was converted into six more points when Luke Dolan raced from 22 yards out with 18.2 seconds left.
MMU’s momentum carried forward on its first possession of the second half, moving efficiently on an eight-play, 73-yard touchdown drive. Quarterback Marcello Mosca capped the drive with a 14-yard TD run, then converted the two-point conversion on a fake point-after attempt, tossing to Matt Merchant for a 21-20 lead with 8:48 left in the third quarter.
Despite missing a short field goal and committing a turnover on another sustained drive, the Lakers earned one more chance after forcing MMU to punt around the two-minute mark. Then Lacroix came up with his pass and Scorsome, who missed much of last year’s season with a broken leg, hauled in the winning score.
“I’m glad I’m back on the field for my senior year,” said Scorsome, whose leg didn’t properly heal until the summer. “They are a good team and I think we underestimated them once we got up 20-0. … We showed a lot of poise coming back to score on that last possession.”
Mosca finished with 80 rushing yards on eight carries and Merchant tallied a combined 85 receiving and rushing yards to lead the Cougars (1-4).
“I’m very proud of them. They came back hard. We had other opportunities, we just didn’t take advantage of them,” MMU coach Marty Richards said. “My hat goes off to Colchester. They did what they needed to do to win the football game.”
The Lakers travel to Rutland on Friday, while the Cougars head to South Burlington for a Saturday night meeting.