Chieftains Stage Comeback, Fall in Overtime to Manchester

Conard vs. Manchester football. Sept. 28, 2018. Photo credit: Marlon Pitter

Matt Langevin led the Conard football team in erasing an early 20-point deficit to push the game into overtime Friday night.

By Marlon Pitter

The Chieftains battled back from a 20-point deficit but fell to Manchester 27-26 in overtime Friday night at McKee Stadium in West Hartford.

Tied at 20 in overtime, Conard quarterback Matt Langevin rushed for a 10-yard touchdown on third down to go ahead 26-20, but Manchester blocked the ensuing PAT to keep the Chieftains’ lead at six.

Manchester needed all four downs to answer, as quarterback Logan Tomlinson ran for a touchdown from the 1-yard line on 4th and goal. The Indians made the decisive PAT to walk off with the victory.

“Just a great high school football game,” said Conard head coach Matt Cersosimo. “They jumped out on a big lead. We held our own and battled back to tie the game up – it was just back and forth. We didn’t execute our techniques on PAT field goal and they blocked it. It was a great game.”

Conard took over on Manchester’s 28 down 20-17 with 2:07 in regulation after a fumble recovery. The Chieftains advanced as far as the 9-yard line, but a third-down sack resulted in a 32-yard field goal by David Regan to tie the game at 20 and send it to overtime.

Manchester opened the game on a 20-0 run in the first 15 minutes of play. The Indians took their opening possession for six as Tomlinson threw a 13-yard strike to AJ Alibrio, taking a 7-0 lead at the 9:55 mark in the first quarter.

Eli Ford gashed the Conard defense on a 79-yard touchdown carry to extend Manchester’s lead to 13-0 on the team’s second possession of the game. After a turnover on downs by the Chieftains, Tomlinson found Treyshawn West for a 21-yard touchdown to put the Indians up 20-0 with 9:28 left in the half.

Langevin’s efforts to keep the ball moving through the air and on the ground sparked Conard’s 26-0 run beginning in the second quarter. He accounted for 187 passing yards and two touchdowns along with 83 rushing yards and a TD on the ground.

“He’s a gamer,” said Cersosimo. “I know it sounds cliché, but he gets in the moment and he really thrives in that moment. When we need a play, we’re going to make sure that we call his number and try to get an opportunity to give him the ball and see what he can do with it.”

Langevin and running back John Calcaterra led a methodical, 80-yard drive, capped off by a 21-yard touchdown pass to Justin Furze which cut Manchester’s lead to 20-7 with 6:07 remaining in the first half.

The Indians drove to Conard’s 18-yard line on their ensuing possession before committing holding and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, which set them back to the 48 where the drive stalled.

With 1:10 remaining before halftime, the Chieftains wasted no time scoring again. Langevin found wide receiver Silas Bridges for a 30-yard touchdown to slim the deficit to 20-14 with 30 seconds left.

Manchester made a final push at scoring before the intermission, but Furze intercepted Tomlinson in the end zone as time expired.

The Chieftains drove to the Indians’ 8-yard line to start the third quarter as Regan made a 29-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 20-17 at the 7:40 mark.

While Conard’s offense slowed in the second half, the defense recorded sacks and turnovers to keep Manchester off the board in regulation.

“We weren’t able to capitalize on some of the turnovers that we had created for ourselves,” said Cersosimo. “That was a shame. They did a good job of holding us, but I thought some of the things that we did were a little self-inflicted.”

The Chieftains stopped the Indians with a turnover on downs, an Antonio Gordon interception in the end zone, and two fumble recoveries – one coming as the visitors tried to run the clock out.

Calcaterra finished the game with 80 yards on 13 carries. Bridges tallied four receptions for 80 yards, including his second-quarter touchdown grab.

Regan made his 14th career field goal, surpassing Finn Cahill’s 13 (2015-16) for the school record.

Friday’s contest marked the fifth time in program history Conard has played in overtime. The Chieftains are now 2-3 in overtime matchups. Four of the five contests were at McKee Stadium, while the lone road overtime game was played at Hall on Nov. 17, 2012.

Conard falls to 1-3 on the season after the loss, while Manchester picks up its first win, improving to 1-3. The Chieftains host Simsbury (0-4) Friday night at 7 p.m.

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Marlon Pitter

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