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Warriors rally to earn fourth win in a thriller

Canton’s Jake Wood (12), Sebastian Gumbs (8), Dan Delos (34) and Terrence Brophy (28) begin to celebrate after the Warriors stopped Coventry’s Vincenzo Marciano (15) attempted two-point conversion run to win the game, 28-26.

CANTON, Oct. 20 – The Canton High football believes. They believe they can play with the better teams in the Pequot Football Conference. And they can win those games.

A year ago, the Warriors would have crumbled under a 14-point deficit. They might have rallied and come close but they weren’t sure how to win. That has changed.

The Warriors erased a 14-point deficit, scored a touchdown with 2:26 left in the fourth quarter and stopped a game-tying two-point conversion attempt with no time left on the clock for a thrilling 28-26 decision over Coventry/Windham Tech/Bolton on Saturday.

Kyle Mullins ran for four touchdowns and a two-point conversion to lead the Warriors (4-2), who have won four of their last five games including their last two over teams with winning records. Mullins ran for 100 yards on 20 carries and tied school records for most TDs and points scored (26) in a single game.

Kyle Mullins (37) tied a school record with 4 TDs in a single game.

“No. 37 (Mullins) kinda lights the fuse on this stick of dynamite,” Canton coach Paul Philippon said. “He seems to make big runs that help bring our sideline emotionally up.”

Mullins recovered a Patriot fumble in the first half and made several stops on defense. But he wasn’t the only man to make big plays. Jake Wood recovered a key fumble late in the fourth quarter to help Canton take the lead and Jesse LaChance helped knock the ball out of the hands of Coventry’s big 6-foot-4 Tommy Myers in the end zone in the second quarter to ruin a potential scoring play.

“Ultimately, it comes down to the players because as much as we feel we’re doing as coaches, we don’t make a single block. We don’t catch a single ball or make a single tackle,” Philippon said. “It’s all the players. These kids come to practice every day and endure some physical and verbal discomfort from the coaching staff. But they keep coming back and they keep learning.”

Canton led 20-14 in the third quarter but Coventry/Windham Tech/Bolton (3-2) marched 83 yards on 18 plays to tie the game, converting on third down three times to keep the drive alive. Vincenzo Marciano scored from 13 yards away to tie the game at 20-20 but when the holder bobbled the snap on the extra point, it threw off the timing of Myers, who sent the ball wide left.

“We made a plethora of errors which you can’t do against a well-coached team,” Coventry coach Tony Bonito said. “The Canton kids played hard. I don’t know many more things we could have done wrong.” The Patriots (3-2) fumbled the ball away twice and were penalized seven times for 65 yards.

After the Patriots tied the game, Coventry held Canton to just five yards on its next series, forcing a punt by Cam Daley with 4:01 remaining the game. But when the punt hit the ground, it bounced up and deflected off Coventry’s Nathan Decker and Wood recovered the ball at Decker’s feet on the Patriot 22-yard line.

Four players later, Mullins scored from the four-yard line and added a successful two-point conversion run to give Canton a 28-20 lead with 2:26 remaining.

Coventry marched 90 yards to score with no time left on the clock. Patriot QB Devan Valdes completed two passes for 28 yards to Myers that helped Coventry march downfield along with a questionable pass interference call.

The Patriots had the ball on the Canton 27-yard line with 24 seconds left and Kyle Wing ran for hard-fought gains of 15, 8 and 3 yards to pull Coventry within two points. Wing scored on a three-yard run on second effort that pushed him over the goal line with no time left on the clock.

But on the two-point conversion run, Canton’s Patrick Lawler and Eugene Davis were able to make the stop on Marciano to secure the win.

Wing ran for two TDs and a game-high 178 yards on 29 carries.

The Patriots led 14-0 with 1:34 remaining in the second quarter and got greedy, calling a timeout with 1:16 and the Warriors facing a third down and nine on the Patriot 49-yard line.

Canton QB Cam Daley found Wood behind a defender for a 35-yard gain to the Coventry 14-yard line. On the next play, Mullins scored his first TD of the game, cutting the lead to eight.

In the third quarter, Canton forced Coventry to punt after its first series and then marched 69 yards on eight plays as Mullins scored from 15 yards away. Dan Delos scored the two-point conversion to tie the game at 14-14.

After forcing another Coventry punt, Canton marched 62 yards on nine plays to take a 20-14 lead with 21 seconds in the third quarter on a three-yard run from Mullins.

The key play in the drive was a fourth down and three play on the Patriot 40-yard line. Daley, who is also the punter, took the ball and completed a 15-yard pass to freshman Matt Bangs for the first down. Jesse LaChance had a nice 22-yard run to set up Mullins’ third TD of the day.

“Those are huge plays,” Philippon said. Those turn games around. And (Daley) completed it to a freshman who made the catch in wide-open space. Sometimes, that is harder than catching it in a crowd.”

NOTES: It was Canton’s first win in five games against the Patriots. … It’s the first time since the 1950s that Canton has won back-to-back games over winning teams. The Warriors didn’t field a varsity team from 1964 through 2006. … Other players to score 4 TDs in a single game are Mike Fraser (2009), Tom Calabrese (twice in 1958), Roger Carter (1954) and Christian Plourd (2007).

Canton 28, Coventry/WT/Bolton 26
At Canton
Cov/WT/B (3-2)                   7   7  0  12 – 26
Canton (4-2)                        0   6  14  8 – 28
First quarter
Cov: Nathan Decker 39 pass from Devan Valdes (Tom Myers kick), 5:54
Second quarter
Cov: Kyle Wing 8 run (Myers kick), 1:34
C: Kyle Mullins 14 run (run fails), 0:54
Third quarter
C: Mullins 15 run (Dan Delos run), 6:49
C: Mullins 3 run (run fails), 0:21
Fourth quarter
Cov: Vincenzo Marciano 13 run (kick fails), 5:17
C: Mullins 4 run (Mullins run), 2:26
Cov: Wing 3 run (run fails), 0:00
Individual statistics
RUSHING: Canton – Kyle Mullins 20-100, Dan Delos 12-42, Cam Daley 4-minus 26, Jesse LaChance 5-33; Coventry/Windham Tech – Kyle Wing 29-178, Vincenzo Marciano 6-36, Devan Valdes 3-2, Austin Ives 2-2, Nathan Decker 2-13
PASSING: Canton – Cam Daley 4-7-0, 66; Coventry/WT – Devan Vales 9-19-0, 136; Tom Myers 1-2-0, 13
RECEIVING: Canton – Jake Wood 2-45, Keith Wilson 1-6, Matt Bangs 1-15; Coventry/WT – Nathan Decker 4-79, Devan Valdes 1-13, Tommy Myers 3-30, Austin Ives 1-6, Vincenzo Marciano 2-23
PENALTIES: Coventry/WT 7-65, Canton 4-30; FUMBLE REC: Mullins (Canton), Jake Wood (Canton); RETURNS: Jesse LaChance (Canton) 2-43 kickoffs, Henry Bonini (Canton) 1-15 kickoff, Austin Ives (Coventry) 1-5 kickoff, Nathan Decker (Coventry) 1-5 punt, 3-19 kickoffs


Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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