FARMINGTON, Sept. 17 – It was a matter of trust. And the growing faith that the Farmington High football team is gaining in each other led the Indians to a thrilling 23-20 season opening victory over East Hartford.
After letting a 20-point lead slip away, the Indians didn’t panic and continue to make plays. Eric Meier’s interception and ensuing 60-yard return with 3:01 remaining in a tie game put Farmington in position to win.
Three plays later, senior Mitchell Lewis hit a 30-yard field goal with 1:32 remaining for the game-winning points – the first game-winning field goal at Farmington in 12 years since Mike Bernabucci hit a 24-yarder with 26 seconds remaining to beat Berlin in 1998.
“Last year, we talked a lot about guys just being in position,” Farmington’s second-year coach Chris Machol said. “We had the athletes. We had the talent. But we didn’t have the trust that the guy next to you was going to do his job.
“If everyone does their job and is in the right position, we’ll make some plays,” he said. “And we have the athletes that can do it. Tonight, for the most part, we were in positions and made plays.”
A year ago, Farmington was 3-7. Now, they are 1-0 with its first-ever victory over East Hartford in three tries.
Against the visiting Hornets, Farmington had five interceptions and another that was negated by a penalty. The Indians also recovered a East Hartford fumble. Sean Fern picked off three passes.
“We talked about never leaving your head down and always staying positive,” said Farmington running back and linebacker Jourdan Parkinson, who led the Indians in rushing with 101 yards on 24 carries and had a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Farmington had control for much of the game. They took a 7-0 lead thanks to an 18-play, 80-yard drive that ate up 7:48 in the second quarter. Quarterback Colan Callahan scored from the one. In the third quarter, Parkinson had his 45-yard interception return and scored on a two-yard run with 43 seconds left in the quarter for a 20-0 lead. It looked like the game was over.
But East Hartford rallied with an 80-yard touchdown pass to Kristofer Williams down the far sideline from quarterback Jose Arriaga (8-20-5, 188). On its next drive, Farmington gambled on fourth down and one from its own 41. Callahan’s sneak was short and three plays later, Arriaga found Newman Davis with a 26-yard touchdown pass with 9:43 remaining in the game to cut the lead to 20-13. Farmington’s Mitchell Berlandy came up with a key block of the extra point.
Two big running plays from Arriaga helped East Hartford’s tie the game at 20-20 with 8:03 remaining. He scored on a 25-yard scramble. And on the kickoff, East Hartford’s DeQuan Cooper knocked the ball out of the hands of the Farmington kick returner giving East Hartford the ball on the Farmington 24.
But the Indians stiffened. The two teams traded fumble recoveries before Meier’s key interception with 3:01 remaining.
“We have that mindset,” Parkinson said. “Never hang your heads and always look for that big play. Always look for that extra inch, that first down. Just keep playing.”
“Congratulations to our seniors for their leadership,” Machol said. “It’s not easy to let a team comeback. But we came back with plays on them. It’s a brand new era of Farmington football.”
Farmington 23, East Hartford 20
East Hartford (0-1) 0 0 7 13 — 20
Farmington (1-0) 7 13 0 3 – 23
F: Colan Callahan 1 run (Mitchell Lewis kick), 1:17
F: Jourdan Parkinson 45 interception return (kick blocked), 8:50
F: Parkinson 2 run (Lewis kick), 0:43
EH: Kristofer Williams 80 pass from Jose Arriaga (Nicholas Rodriguez kick), 0:24
EH: Newman Davis 26 pass from Arriaga (kick blocked), 9:43
EH: Arriaga 25 run (Rodriguez kick), 8:03
F: Lewis 30 FG, 1:32
RUSHING: Farmington – Colan Callahan 10-42, Jourdan Parkinson 24-101, Patrick Wollenberg 2-6, Marcus Biggins 1-0, Mitchell Berlandy 1-minus 1, Brandon Paolillo 1-7; East Hartford – Jose Arriaga 21-88, Anthony Bagley, Jr. 4-15
PASSING: Farmington – Callahan 5-17-2, 51; East Hartford – Arriaga 8-20-5, 188
RECEIVING: Farmington – Brendan Cook 1-15, Patrick Wollenberg 2-10, Jourdan Parkinson 1-8, Mitchell Berlandy 1-17; East Hartford – Kristofer Williams 4-128; Nicholas Rodriguez 1-6, Robert Lewis Jr. 2-38, Anthony Bagley, Jr. 1-10