CANTON, Sept. 24 – The Canton High football team isn’t your ordinary high school team. Few start freshmen. Even fewer start three or four of them.
With only six seniors on the squad, there are plenty of underclassmen throughout the starting lineup for the Warriors. So, it’s not surprising to hear head coach Roger Pearl say, “It’s a young team making young mistakes.”
Despite the mistakes, the Warriors were 56 seconds away from their first victory of the season Saturday against Windsor Locks/Suffield/East Granby.
Canton scored a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns, including a 38-yard pass from freshman Sebastian Gumbs to sophomore Keith Wilson with 56 seconds left to give Canton a six-point lead – its first lead of the afternoon.
Windsor Locks’ Trystan Cauley gets into open space on his 27-yard touchdown run with no time left that tied the game at 20-20. He scored on a two-point conversion run to give the Raiders the win.
But Windsor Locks marched 73 yards in 56 seconds, scoring on a 27-yard run from Trystan Cauley with no time left on the clock. He added a two-point conversion run from the eight-yard line to cap a stunning 22-20 victory. Cauley finished with three TDs and a game-high 180 yards rushing on 24 carries.
Canton (0-2) lost two fumbles and had committed 11 penalties but that was all forgotten when Gumbs found a wide-open Wilson for a touchdown with 56 seconds remaining for a 20-14 lead.
And on Windsor Locks’ first play after the kickoff, Canton stuffed Cauley for a three-yard loss. But Canton’s inability to tackle cost them on the next play when Cauley was able to move through the middle for a gain of 13 yards to the Raiders’ 40-yard line.
Throughout the game, many Canton players tried to tackle Locks players near the shoulders and were frequently brushed away. Cauley broke numerous attempted tackles on earlier touchdown runs of 27 and 39 yards.
A 15-yard facemask penalty moved the ball to the Canton 45-yard line with 18.3 seconds remaining. Jeremy Wilson dashed up the middle for 18 yards to the Canton 27 before the Raiders called a timeout with 2.3 seconds remaining.
On the final play, Cauley moved through the line, broke numerous tackles and barely made it to the end zone as time expired to tie the game at 20-20. On the conversion play, a Windsor Locks player was penalized five yards for false start, moving the ball back to the eight-yard line.
Still, Cauley made it back to the end zone for the game-winning two-point conversion.
“We had them on the ropes,” Pearl said. “It’s just young kids being young kids. They’re disheartened.”
Even Windsor Locks’ first-year coach Marty Powers felt for the Warriors. “Nobody deserves to lose a game like that,” he said. “I feel bad. They played a hell of a game. They deserved to win. They outplayed us for three quarters.”
The road doesn’t get any easier. Canton hosts a hard-running Housatonic/Wamogo team on Saturday that is looking for its first 3-0 start since 1993. The Mountaineers run the deceptive single-wing formation. And following that is a Thursday game on Oct. 6 at Avon, who have won 35 of its last 37 Pequot Uncas games.
“We saw some things we have to improve on, and if we’re going to win any games this year we’ve got to improve on them,” Pearl said. “I know they’re young but it’s time to (mature). It’s varsity football. You’ve got to step up to the plate.”
Windsor Locks took an 8-0 lead when the kickoff bounced off a Canton player and Locks recovered. On the next play, Cauley scored from the 27.
But Canton’s defense stood up. Linebacker Erik Latvits made several nice plays, Jessie Lachance had a 11-yard sack and the Warriors recovered three Locks fumbles. “The defense has improved a lot in the last two weeks,” Pearl said.
The Warriors cut the lead to two, 8-6, in the third quarter when sophomore QB Eric Scott found a wide-open Zach Powell for a 24-yard touchdown pass. The conversion pass failed. On the next series, Windsor Locks took a 14-6 lead when Cauley scored on a 39-yard run. The key play in the drive was a 11-yard run by Ago Jiminez on a fake punt.
Taking advantage of good field position, Canton tied the game at 14-14 early in the fourth quarter on a 21-yard TD pass from Scott to Wilson. Connor Gavin’s reception from Scott on the conversion tied the game with 11:41 remaining.
Canton took over the ball on the Windsor Locks 46 with 1:35 remaining with Gumbs running around the right side for five yards. LaChance followed with a three-yard run to the Locks 38 setting up Gumbs’ halfback option pass to Wilson with 56 seconds left.
In the three drives before its game-winning drive, Windsor Locks gained a total of four yards and coughed up the ball once. The Raiders had just one first down, on the fake punt run, in the second half prior to the final drive.
Windsor Locks 22, Canton 20
W. Locks (1-1) 8 0 6 8 – 22
Canton (0-2) 0 0 6 14 – 20
WL: Trystan Cauley 27 run (Curtis Cauley run), 11:42
C: Zach Powell 24 pass from Eric Scott (pass fails), 6:25
WL: Cauley 39 run (run fails), 3:36
C: Keith Wilson 21 pass from Scott (Connor Gavin pass from Scott), 11:41
C: Wilson 38 pass from Sebastian Gumbs (pass fails), 0:56
WL: Cauley 27 run (Cauley run), 0:00
RUSHING: Canton — Sebastian Gumbs 1-5, Jesse LaChance 8-21, Cameron Daley 1-4, Keith Wilson 1-17, Eric Scott 5-minus 6, Kyle Mullins 10-59, Robby Grillo 2-7, Conner Gavin 1-6; Windsor Locks –Trystan Cauley 24-180, Jeremy Wilson 2-18, Ago Jiminez 7-21, Curtis Cauley 5-4, Jeremy Voyer 2-5, Andrew Green 2-minus 6
PASSING: Canton – Gumbs 1-1-0, 38; Scott 3-12-0, 52; Daley 0-1-0; Windsor Locks – Jiminez 0-1-0
RECEIVING: Canton – Keith Wilson 2-59, Zach Powell 2-31