TOLLAND - Christian Collin couldnâ€™t stop smiling as his teammates hugged and congratulated him after Saturdayâ€™s game against Tolland.
After all, there was plenty to smile about. Right when his team needed him the most, Plainvilleâ€™s quarterback made sure he delivered.
â€śHeâ€™s a competitor,â€ť Blue Devils head coach Tim Shea said. â€śHe wants the ball in his hands.â€ť
With Plainville down two and facing a fourth-and-goal from the Eaglesâ€™ 5-yard line with 38 seconds remaining, Collin scrambled out of a collapsing pocket and darted for the right corner of the end zone. He avoided one tackler and dove with the ball stretched out from the 2, hitting the pylon for the game-winning touchdown in a 22-16 victory over Tolland that sent the Blue Devils (4-1) into a frenzy.
â€śItâ€™s what every football player dreams of, to have an opportunity like that,â€ť Collin said. â€śThat was a big comeback win.
â€śHonestly, I wish I could tell you what I was thinking in the moment, but my mind was blank,â€ť he added. â€śI was just playing football, doing something I love.â€ť
It was a moment that capped off a wild second half that saw a trick play go for a touchdown, third-and-longs converted and a number of key defensive stops.
The Eagles (2-3) broke an 8-8 first-half tie on a 24-yard halfback pass from Ryan Carlson to Aidan Dâ€™Amato and converted the subsequent 2-point play on a Carlson run for their first and only lead of the day with 8:07 left in the third. Plainville, meanwhile, was forced to punt after going three-and-out on both of its third-quarter possessions and Carlson picked off Collin on the Blue Devilâ€™s first drive of the fourth outside Tollandâ€™s end zone.
But Plainvilleâ€™s defense, which caused havoc for Eagles quarterback Aidan Clark for most of the 48 minutes of play, forced Tolland to punt from its own end zone with 5:54 left in what ended up being a momentum-turning series. It set up a 1-play, 7-second drive for the Blue Devils that ended with a 21-yard touchdown from Collin to Javan Paradis to bring the score to 16-14 after a failed two-point attempt.
â€śWe just told each other we need to finish,â€ť Plainville defensive lineman Adrien Marcos said of getting the Eagles to punt late in the fourth quarter. â€śWe had to do it for everyone on the team, to the left and right of us. It was a team effort.â€ť
The Blue Devilsâ€™ defense came up big two more times before the final whistle blew.
The unit forced Tolland to punt on its next possession after a three-and-out, that ultimately allowed Plainville to go on its 14-play, 68-yard game-winning drive and included a key 25-yard pass on 3rd-and-17 from Collin to Dylan Hall. After Collinâ€™s score, Ryan Barker sacked Clark and Felix La Oz came up with an interception on the next play to close out the game.
â€śThe game had some drama,â€ť Shea said. â€śIt was back and forth, plays that didnâ€™t happen, plays that did happen, trick plays. From [the fans] perspective it was pretty goodâ€¦ Tolland executed when they had to execute. We just executed on one more play than they did and thatâ€™s football. Eleven guys on the field and getting it done.â€ť
The Blue Devils had trouble executing in the first half that could have made the ending a little less dramatic. Plainville opened the game with a 15-play drive and had a 12-play drive in the final minutes of the second quarter. Both possessions ended with a dropped pass in or near the end zone and a turnover on downs.
â€śThereâ€™s still some things we need to fix up,â€ť Collin said. â€śBut it was enough to get us this win today.â€ť
Those corrections, however, will wait until next week when Plainville gets ready for perhaps its biggest game of the season when it hosts Berlin (4-1), which is coming off a 23-6 win over a previously unbeaten Lewis Mills team on Saturday as well.
â€śNext week should be some fun,â€ť Shea said.
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or email@example.com
PLAINVILLE 22, TOLLAND 16
Plainville (4-1) 0 8 0 14 - 22
Tolland (3-2) 0 8 8 0 - 16
P- Beau Lasher 1 run (Christian Collin run), 10:31
T-Aaron Lang 1 run (run), 6:41
T-Aidan Dâ€™Amato 24 pass from Ryan Carlson (Carlson run), 8:07
P- Javan Paradis 21 pass from Collin (run failed), 5:37
P-Collin 5 run (Lasher run), 0:38