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Football: Late touchdown brings win

Weston High’s Sam Panton tries to avoid a Stratford defender during a varsity football game on Saturday, Oct.27 Weston won its homecoming game 20-15.—Scott Mullin photo

A couple of big plays were what the Weston High varsity football team needed and got late in its game against Stratford.

With less than four minutes to play, quarterback Tyler Hassett threw two touchdown passes, including one to Justin Schaffer with 29 seconds to go, which allowed the Trojans to come from behind in a 20-15 win in their homecoming game on Saturday, Oct. 26.

The win not only improved Weston’s record to 6-1, it came on the same day as the funeral for the father of freshman lineman J.T. Delara.

“We really wanted this one for J.T.,” said Weston head coach Joe Lato. “I was glad we were able to do it. The kids all came together and found a way.”

It did take the Trojans a while to do it, however, as they were held scoreless for the first half. In the meantime the Red Devils went to work early scoring on their first possession. A seven-yard pass from Noah Provo to Mike Cannata was good for the touchdown and with Kyle Kodnia’s extra point kick put Stratford up 7-0 with 9:13 left in the first quarter.

Following a touchback on the kickoff the Trojans went to work and appeared to be in good shape, driving down to the Stratford six before a fumble ended their chances. The Red Devils had little luck advancing the ball before having to punt but got a second chance when a roughing the kicker call got them a first down instead as the first quarter ended.

Neither side reached the end zone in the remainder of the half although Weston came close in the waning seconds. A dropped pass on the goal line with almost no time left forced the Trojans to go into halftime down 7-0.

“We weren’t playing that well,” said Lato. “We weren’t helping ourselves.”

When play resumed Weston appeared to be making progress on its opening series. Erik Dammen-Brower completed a couple of passes to Schaffer to get into Weston territory before the drive stalled and the Red Devils took over on their own 41. They fumbled on second down and Tom McGlone recovered on Stratford 41 and the Trojans got as far as the 24 before Stratford again took over on downs.

But when the Red Devils fumbled and Adrian Gutkowski recovered on the 32 Weston did not waste the opportunity. Hassett came in at quarterback and despite getting sacked on first down completed a 41-yard pass to Schaffer up the middle for Weston’s first touchdown. Max Carroll kicked the extra point and Weston tied it at 7-7.

“The adrenaline got going and the pain went away,” said Hassett, who injured his hip in the New Fairfield game. “Our team showed determination and never quit.”

Both sides exchanged punts before another Stratford turnover helped Weston. Sam Panton’s interception with 8:02 left in the game gave the Trojans the ball on the Stratford 41.

Runs by Schaffer and Dammen-Brower drove Weston to the eight and on fourth down Hassett completed a a pass to McGlone for the touchdown and with Carroll’s extra point Weston led 14-7 with 3:31 left.

That was enough time for Stratford to reply. Going mainly in the air, it reached the Weston one and Sam Brenner scored with 1:16 left to tie it. Provo ran in the two-point conversion and the Red Devils led 15-14.

Weston still had enough time and got busy with Hassett completing a couple of passes to Schaffer to keep the drive going. The former then ran for 12 yards on a key fourth-down conversion to get the Trojans to the Stratford 45.

Under double coverage Schaffer caught a pass for the touchdown with 29 seconds left and Weston was back in the lead.

“I know we’d come back,” said Schaffer. “We’re always ready for the fourth quarter.”

Stratford started on its own 36 and was hit with three penalties to stall their drive as time expired.

Schaffer caught 10 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 106. Hassett threw for 146 with three touchdowns.

Kris Dammen-Brower and Aaron Pomerance led Weston with seven tackles apiece. Panton and Erik Dammen-Brower each had six.

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