It took just one play to swing the momentum the other way for the Chatham Varsity football team, as it fell, 17-7, to Montville Saturday afternoon at Cougar Field.
Scoreless in the first half, Chatham went up 7-0 on Owen Walewander’s 33-yard TD reception from sophomore quarterback Giovanni Del Re, who made his first varsity start, early in the third quarter.
Mustang senior kicker/quarterback Blaine Franc responded by booting an impressive 42-yard field goal that sliced the Cougars’ advantage to 7-3.
However, Chatham committed a costly personal foul on the kick, automatically giving Montville a first down and an opportunity to continue the drive.
The Mustangs didn’t let the chance fall by the wayside, as Franc connected with senior Michael Fardo on a 20-yard score to tie up the contest at 7-7 with 5:49 left in the third period.
Cougar third-year head coach Dan Czepiga lamented the special team gaff while giving credit to his defense for making the stop in deep in their own territory.
“Those mistakes are going to kill us,” Czepiga said after the game. “So, anytime you get a team fourth and long, and they’re kicking a field goal, that’s was a win for the defense there. And we made that penalty and it just kind of took the wind out of our sails a little bit there. And then they converted it into a touchdown. It’s just things like that, that we have to clean up.”
Franc hit pay dirt again when he used his feet to score on a one-yard TD rush to give Montville its first lead of the tilt at 14-7 with 27.3 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Then, Frank, this time, kicked a field goal that counted, making it 17-7 in favor of the Mustangs with 10:02 left to go in the game.
Montville continued to grind and run the football, eating up precious time on the clock, while Chatham struggled to mount any offense when it did have possession of the pigskin.
In the end, the Cougars fell to 0-3, while the Mustangs improved to 2-2.
Chatham did make its fair share of back-breaking miscues, turning the ball over three times–one on an interception and the other two on fumbles.
The Cougars travel to Newton High School Friday at 7:00 p.m.
— Jerry Del Priore