South Windsor Football Rallies for Defining Overtime Win

SOUTH WINDSOR-South Windsor football’s 2017 season was already a special one entering Saturday morning’s game against powerhouse Southington. The Bobcats were 7-1 and ranked in the top eight of the Class LL team ratings, making them eligible for a berth in the state playoffs. South Windsor was looking to obtain another signature win, however, and a matchup with the Blue Knights, also 7-1, was a great opportunity for one. The Bobcats seized this opportunity, refusing to leave the field until they secured a win which is destined to become a classic.

In overtime, senior Cameron Plourde knocked a 22-yard field goal straight through the uprights to give South Windsor a 30-27 win. Plourdre’s winning kick completed the Bobcats comeback from deficits of 21-7 at halftime and 27-14 midway through the third quarter.

Head coach Dave Hodge was bursting with joy after the game.

“This is the biggest win our program has had since I started coaching here and probably ever,” Hodge said. “Our players showed their resilience against a great team and program today. It was our best cperformance this season as far as quality of play and competing hard the whole game. “

Southington possessed the ball at the Bobcats 10-yard line to open overtime. On third down, quarterback Will Barmore threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Montalvo, who was able to navigate and then leap through the defense to put the Blue Knights up 33-27. As soon as they started to celebrate on the sidelines however, Southington saw the score taken away when a live-ball personal foul was called away from the play. The Blue Knights had even more reason to seethe seconds later, as on fourth down senior Mike Dacosta smoothly intercepted Barmore’s pass in the end zone.

South Windsor took over at the 10. Its first two running plays went nowhere, but on third down senior back Julian Ibes showed his toughness, powering the ball down to the 1-yard line and helping to shorten Plourde’s kick. Immediately after his golden foot gave the Bobcats the win, a raucous crowd of players and fans rushed to the middle of the field and celebrated.

“Cameron is always huge for us,” Hodge said. “He didn’t have time to think or relax before that kick, and he performed it with total concentration.”

With the win, South Windsor has moved to sixth in the Class LL rankings with one game remaining. The Bobcats have not made the playoffs in many years and only advanced to one state championship game, in 1988.

Senior quarterback Connor Kapisak also had a big smile on his face after their win.

“It’s definitely a huge win. This game had big playoff implications, and we got it done.”

South Windsor scored three times in the second half to send the game to OT. The rally started on their opening possession of the third quarter, as a potent passing attack emerged. Following a pinpoint pass from Kapisak to senior Colin Ryan to earn a first down at the 39, Kapisak faked a run and lofted a beautiful short fade to Ryan along the right sideline. The secondary was fooled by the play and out of possession, and the wide-open Ryan took advantage, racing 61 yards and into the end zone as hopeless Southington defenders trailed to make it 21-14.

The Blue Knights showed they continued to be in control on the next possession, scoring their fourth consecutive touchdown. A long run by Montalvo and a couple well-executed passes to Tim O’Shea brought the offense down to the 16. Once there, Barmore displayed his quality footwork and speed on a touchdown run, scoring 4:38 in. The score remained 27-14 when Southington missed the extra point wide left.

South Windsor’s offense responded with a grueling scoring drive. The Bobcats eventually converted two fourth downs on a pass over the middle to Ryan and a run by senior Jimmy Tamburro, bringing the ball down to the 10 with roughly a minute remaining in the quarter. Kapisak then fired a touchdown pass to Tamburro, open in the right corner of the end zone. The third would end with Southington leading 27-21. Throughout the drive, the Bobcats offensive line provided better protection and Kapisak passed quickly, valuable traits that lasted.

After a strong defensive showing on Southington’s first drive of the fourth, Kapisak and Ryan stepped up again. Another pounding run by Ibes on 3rd and 5 earned a first down and moved the ball to South Windsor’s 44. On first down, Kapisak and Ryan executed the same touchdown pass as before, with the defense again confused and out of position. This time, Ryan caught and ran the ball on the left sideline. The touchdown tied the score at 27 with 5:56 remaining, but the Bobcats failed to take the lead when Anthony Vecchio made a game-saving play and blocked Plourde’s extra point attempt.

Kapisak discussed the reasons for the Bobcats second half passing success.

“We really tried to establish the run at the beginning of the game, and then threw off of that in the second half and played really well. During halftime, we really came together. On those two touchdowns to Colin, the play calls were great and drawn up well. The O-line blocked perfectly and all I had to do was lob it in there.”

“Connor and the receivers did a great job,” Hodge said. “Connor was able to find people and had good accuracy, and guys got lost by their secondary. And Colin runs pretty fast.”

While South Windsor’s offense executed big plays in the second half, the Bobcats defense supported their comeback by playing much more efficiently and aggressively, particularly against Southington’s heralded passing attack.

On the Blue Knights opening drive of the fourth, the defense kept them out of the red zone by tackling for a large loss on a run  and then sacking Barmore. Following Ryan’s tying touchdown catch, Southington only gained one first down on the following possession, with the secondary breaking up a deep pass on third and long.

The Blue Knights then had one more great chance to win in regulation. Starting the final drive with 2:53 remaining, they proceeded to quickly advance the ball to the South Windsor 23 on a handful of pass plays. When they most needed to however, the Bobcats secondary showed their toughness and smarts. They broke up passes on second and third down.  Southington chose to throw the ball instead of attempt a field goal on fourth and 9, and senior Tyler Osit reacted quickly and knocked the ball away from Will Downes at the last second.

“Our secondary was great. We have a couple of guys injured and actually had three new players in there, and they worked very hard and showed their skills,” Hodge said.

Kapisak went 13-for-25 for 226 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Tamburro both ran for and caught a TD. Ryan hauled in five catches for 175 yards and two touchdowns, and Ibes rushed for 101 yards on 28 carries.

Southington scored on a 3-yard touchdown run by Montalvo in the first quarter as time expired. The Bobcats answered on the next possession, methodically moving the ball down the field on well-executed runs until Tamburro barreled in from 7 yards out to tie the game. The Blue Knight’s offense continued to make big plays as they scored two more touchdowns, taking the 21-7 lead into halftime. Montalvo, who ultimately ran for 148 yards, scored on an athletic 20-yard run, while Tanner Larosa ran the ball in from the goal line. The South Windsor defense had difficulty making tackles in the first half, and was frequently unable to stay with players.

South Windsor has one regular season game remaining against Tolland on the day before anniversary. If it wins, the team is pretty much completely assured of making the LL state tournament. While Hodge and Kapisak do not want to look too far ahead, they are both confident the team is capable of going on a tournament run.

“Enfield will be a tough game, and we must stay focused upon them and winning,” Hodge said. “If we do make the playoffs, we just have to play with the toughness and execution we showed today and we can win.”

“We have to stay focused upon Enfield. I think we have a lot of momentum, especially after this win. We really all believe in each other and I think we can win,” Kapisak said.

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