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Class L: New Canaan falls to Windsor

Updated 10:30 pm, Sunday, December 2, 2012

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  • New Canaan high school's Cole Turpin catches a pass from quarterback Teddy Bossidy which he ran in for a touchdown in the CIAC class L semifinal football tournament game against Windsor high school played at Bunnell high school, Stratford, CT on Sunday December 2nd, 2012. Photo: Mark Conrad / Stamford Advocate Freelance
    New Canaan high school's Cole Turpin catches a pass from quarterback Teddy Bossidy which he ran in for a touchdown in the CIAC class L semifinal football tournament game against Windsor high school played at Bunnell high school, Stratford, CT on Sunday December 2nd, 2012. Photo: Mark Conrad

 

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STRATFORD -- There was the pass that bounced off the back of a receiver's head, the muffed punt, the balls that always seemed to land just beyond a player's reach.

And then, finally, there was the fateful final onside kick that seemed to roll forever before ending up in an opponent's hands.

A combination of poor execution and bad bounces doomed the New Canaan football team's chance to play in a seventh straight state championship game Sunday afternoon.

Second-seeded Windsor, which was stunned by New Canaan on a last-second field goal in last year's CIAC Class L semifinals, this time survived a rally in the final minute to come away with a 27-21 victory over the No. 6 Rams at Bulldog Field to reach next weekend's championship game.

"They're just a gutsy group of kids," New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli said of his players who, despite being outperformed much of the day, still managed to position themselves for the win. "They never gave up. We didn't play well. We lost to a better team. They're a team that deserves to go play in a state championship. We did not play well enough."

Still, memories of a year ago crept just a heartbeat away. Devonte Dillon's second touchdown of the second half gave Windsor a seemingly safe 27-7 lead with 7:38 remaining.

Windsor came in second in the state defensively, giving up just eight points a game, and had shut out New Canaan (9-3) until Cole Turpin got open behind the defense and scored on a 45-yard pass from Teddy Bossidy late in the third quarter.

Helped by a personal foul penalty on Dillon's second score and then consecutive facemask penalties by Windsor, the Rams came back four plays later, with Louis Hagopian's 1-yard run narrowing the deficit to 27-14 with 5:49 left.

The Warriors (11-0), whose second-half adjustment spurred a strong ground game, were on the verge of running out the clock, needing just one more first down to end the game.

But quarterback Robert Fleeting's third-down fumble was returned 79 yards by Michael DiCosmo with 47 seconds left.

Suddenly, gloom morphed into hope. The mental DVRs were rewound by a year.

"We all said that," Hagopian said. "All year we've been aiming to prove people wrong."

Neal Koller delivered a perfect onside kick that eluded Windsor's first wave of players. A long chase ensued, and suddenly the ball ended up, perhaps fittingly, in the hands of Dillon, who ran out of bounds. Two kneel-downs later and hope turned back into gloom.

"Had we gotten that onside kick, which I thought we were going to get...it just wasn't meant to be," Marinelli said. "For our kids to keep playing, keep playing, keep playing, we called the timeout and said, `You can do it, you can do it,' and the next thing you know he's in the end zone and I'm saying we have a chance."

Windsor coach Robert Fleeting, whose son is the quarterback, said he remained calm even while most everyone else was thinking back to last December, when New Canaan outscored his team in the second half 20-0 and won on a field goal with 4.2 seconds left.

"It just goes to show the game's never over," Fleeting said. "The difference from last year is we didn't panic. The kids have grown up."

Had it not been for four turnovers, including an interception in front of the end zone by New Canaan's Grady Lynch on the opening possession of the game, Windsor might have rolled with ease.

"We've been living by opportunities all year and it came back to get us," Hagopian said.

Windsor held New Canaan without a first down and to minus-1 yard in the opening quarter.

The Rams also turned the ball over four times. A muffed punt gave Windsor the ball at the New Canaan 19 and led to Fleeting Jr.'s 1-yard run late in the first quarter. The next time the Warriors had the ball, Fleeting Jr. hit Ryheime Moore in stride on a 45-yard play for a 14-0 lead.

Dillon's interception led to his 7-yard run on the next play that made the score 20-0 midway through the third quarter.

The Warriors, who have an explosive passing attack, rushed for 198 yards in the second half. They had a 35-4 run to pass ratio in that time and ran the ball on their final 26 plays.

"We run the same offense and they are very familiar with us and we are very familiar with what they do," Fleeting said. "We went to our short-yardage offense and it caused a few problems for them. It is something they were unfamiliar with and I think that was the difference."

Marinelli was expecting Hand to be his next opponent. It will be -- only in next season's opening game, rather than next weekend's Class L final.

"I'm proud of the effort we gave," Marinelli said. "We just came up a little bit short, but hopefully we can regroup and get ready for next year."

dave.ruden@scni.com; Twitter: @DaveRuden

CLASS L SEMIFINALS

WINDSOR 27, NEW CANAAN 21

NEW CANAAN 0 0 7 14 -- 21

WINDSOR 7 7 6 7 -- 27

W--Robert Fleeting, 1 run (Christopher Traore kick)

W--Ryheime Moore, 45 pass from Fleeting (Traore kick)

W--Devonte Dillon, 7 run (kick failed)

NC--Cole Turpin, 45 pass from Teddy Bossidy (Neal Koller kick)

W--Dillon, 8 run (Traore kick)

NC--Louis Hagopian, 1 run (Koller kick)

NC--Michael DiCosmo, 79 fumble return (Koller kick)

Records: New Canaan 9-3; Windsor 11-0