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After state record field goal, Simsbury rallies to beat Hall in overtime

Brendan Gaffney ran for the game-winning touchdown in OT as Simsbury beat Hall on Friday night in West Hartford. (Photo courtesy Dana Scott)

In late August, senior Caden Lill was trying to earn a spot on the Simsbury High boys soccer team. It didn’t turn out as he hoped with Lill getting cut.

Determined to join a program this fall, Lill emailed Simsbury High football coach Dave Masters. Lill tried out for the kicker position and earned a spot on the Trojan squad, who were in West Hartford on Friday night at Hall High, facing the Warriors in the opening game of the 2019 season.

Minutes after Hall kicker Noe Ruelas gave his team a three-point lead with the longest field goal in state history (56 yards), Lill was on the field with 6.2 seconds left in regulation with the game in the balance.

Lill kicked a 27-yard field goal to send the game into overtime where teammate Brendan Gaffney scored on a two-yard run to lift Simsbury to a 9-3 season-opening win over the Warriors in overtime at Hall High.

An interception by Rory Walker in OT stopped Hall on their first possession and gave Simsbury the opportunity to win in overtime. Dan Sohn had a key block to allow Gaffney to score and give Simsbury their first OT win since 2009.

First-year player Caden Lill kicks a game-tying field goal from 27 yards away in Friday night’s OT win over Simsbury. (Photo courtesy Dana Scott)

“That was a fun one,” Simsbury coach Dave Masters said. “It was a good win for us. We needed that type of win, gut it out.”

Simsbury played solid defense throughout the game only to see Ruelas hit a state record field goal in the fourth quarter to give Hall the lead, 3-0.

“After playing some amazing defense, that can be kind of deflating,” Masters said. “The defensive line played well. Linebacker Tommy Guifoyle and Colin Crowe played great.” Guilfoyle and Crowe each had 10 tackles in the game while Dan Sohn had seven tackles, including a tackle for a loss.

Simsbury (1-0, 1-0 CCC Division I West) had one last chance to score. The big play on the drive was a bomb from quarterback Aiden Boeshans to Gaffney that put the ball into field goal range. Gaffney outleaped two Hall defenders to come down with the ball at the 13-yard line to give Lill a chance to kick.

“How much has his world changed in a week. It’s crazy,” Masters said of Lill. “It’s nice to have a kicker.”

Ruelas set a new state record with his 56-yard field goal. It broke the old record of 54 yards set by three players – Watertown’s Rico Brogna (1987), Fermi’s Tyler Timion (1987) and Pomperaug’s Matt Paola (2011).

It was Simsbury’s first OT victory since beating Glastonbury, 34-33, on the final day of the 2009 campaign to win the CCC Division I title.

Simsbury will host their home opener on Friday night at 7 p.m. at Holden Field when they host Amity-Woodbridge.

Simsbury 9, Hall 3, OT
At West Hartford
Simsbury (1-0)                                     0  0  0  3  6  — 9
Hall (0-1)                                              0  0  0  3  0  — 3
Fourth Quarter
H: FG Noe Ruelas 56
S: FG Caden Lill 27, 6.2
Overtime
S: Brendan Gaffney 2 run
Individual statistics
RUSHING: Simsbury – Brendan Gaffney 5-25, Aiden Boeshans 9-46, Dan Sohn 10-20, John Mairano 2-6, Jeffrey Coleman 2-5; Hall – Isaiah Lizardi 7-26, Julian Baker 6-15, Matthew Keller 4-minus 27
PASSING: Simsbury – Aiden Boeshans 8-17-1, 66; Hall – Matthew Keller 9-21-1, 105
RECEIVING: Simsbury – Brendan Gaffney 4-62, Dan Sohn 1-7, Jeffrey Coleman 3-minus 3; Hall – Gabriel Salomons 5-60, Noe Ruelas 1-13, Lizardi 1-11
INTERCEPTION: Rory Walker (S), Salomons (H)

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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