The journey continues for the Blue Devils (8-2) as they took the next step in turning around the program, making the state playoffs for the first time since 2010 with a 27-21 win over Farmington on Thanksgiving Day.
For all the offensive excitement that took place during the ninth annual Old Canal Cup rivalry against the Indians (5-5), it was a crucial defensive stand that decided the outcome in front of packed house at Tinty Stadium.
“We just wanted to take care of what we could control and let the chips fall where they may,” said Plainville head coach Tim Shea. “I’m proud of the way our guys battled. We just had to make one more play than they did, and we made that play.”
Plainville had just taken the lead with 7:48 to play after Christian Collin ran in his third touchdown of the game from 10 yards out. Dylan Brewer, who had already sent three extra points through the uprights, was kicking into a stiff wind and the attempt was blocked, giving the Devils a slim six-point advantage.
Farmington went on a five-minute drive, consuming 12 plays getting the ball down on the Plainville four-yard line with 1:56 to go. Jacob Conrad handed the ball off to Finn Sposato (22 carries, 84 yards) on a fourth and three, only to have Ryan Barker and Ty Pales shed their blockers and stuff the run. The Indians turned the ball over on downs.
Farmington would have one more crack at it, taking over at the Plainville 36-yard line following a punt with 1:18 to play. The Devils defense rose to the occasion again with Alex Santini, Dante Chambrello and Adrien Marcos converging on a third down sack. Farmington turned it over on downs after a Conrad pass fell incomplete on fourth down.
The celebration had already begun on the Plainville sideline when Collin went out to take a knee to run out the clock. It marked just the second time in the holiday game series that the Devils came out victoriously.
“It was really a back and forth game,” said Collin. “Our defense came up big like they have all year. It feels great to come out of here with the win.”
All season long Plainville has shown a penchant to come up big on defense, and Turkey Day was no different. Tanner Callahan intercepted a pass on just the fourth play of the game, and he came within one tackler of taking it into the end zone.
The Devils didn’t end up scoring, but on the first play of the second quarter Collin (19 carries, 87 yards, 3 TDs) completed an eight-play drive taking it in from 13 yards out. The biggest play on the scoring drive was a third and eight acrobatic catch in the red zone from Dom Chambrello (3 catches, 65 yards) that picked up 39 yards.
Collin (7 of 15 passing, 150 yards, TD) again went to the air, hitting Dylan Hall with a 22-yard hook-up that set up Plainville deep in the Indians territory. Collin barreled in from three-yards out to open up a 14-0 lead with 2:55 to go in the half.
Farmington had more than enough time left to close the gap at the break when Conrad (22 of 36 passing, 198 yards) set up a first and goal on a 37 yard pass to Mike Gregory (8 catches, 95 yards) and two plays later the duo hooked up again on an eight-yard touchdown strike.
The Devils got the ball to start the second half, and Collin wasted no time. He found Javan Paradis (2 catches for 55 yards, 5 carries for 58 yards) who pulled in a sideline pass and outraced the defense 47 yards to the end zone to open up a 21-7 lead.
By the time the fourth quarter started the Indians had stormed back to tie the game at 21-21. Conrad (8 carries, 69 yards) busted three tackles on his way to a 27 yard touchdown jaunt and following a Plainville fumble Sposato punched it in from four yards out and this game was far from over.
Beau Lasher (7 carries, 36 yards) helped to soften up the Indians defense and with 7:48 to go Collin found a seam and took it in from 10 yards out to put the Devils back on top 27-21.
That’s when the Plainville defense came on and kicked the door closed sending the Devils to the playoffs as the 7th rankled team in the Class S division. Plainville will take on 2nd ranked 10-0 Bullard Havens at Kennedy Stadium in Bridgeport on Tuesday Dec. 3 and the winner will move on to the semifinals on Sunday Dec. 8.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Shea. “I’m so happy for the kids, especially the seniors. They worked hard for this and all that hard works pays off for moments like this. It’s one of those storybook things you talk about, a fabulous memory for them.”