FREMONT - Time ultimately wasn't on Hopewell-Loudon's side last night as the Chieftains took on Norwalk St. Paul in a rematch of last year's Division VI regional final.
The Chieftains, trailing by a point, were forced to attempt a long field goal with five seconds remaining in the game after the Flyers had taken the lead with a last-minute scoring drive.
Jay McAllister's field goal try from 48 yards out was low and well short of the goalpost as time expired to allow St. Paul to hang on for a 29-28 win at Don Paul Stadium.
"That didn't win or lose the game for us," said Hopewell-Loudon coach Brian Colatruglio, of McAllister's missed attempt. "We had a lot of chances to make plays and we didn't make plays."
The Chieftains (11-2) actually were in position to topple the Flyers for the second year in a row in the regional-final meeting.
Hopewell-Loudon quarterback Andrew Brose directed the Chieftains on a scoring drive midway through the fourth quarter that gave them a 28-21 lead with just over five minutes left in the contest. Brose connected with Zach Yost on a fourth-and-two play for a 40-yard TD reception with 5:25 remaining.
The Chieftains, who didn't have trouble moving the ball up and down the field against the Flyers' defense all night, needed only one final defensive stop of their own to secure the win. That proved much more difficult than they would have preferred.
The Flyers marched 61 yards in eight plays while taking nearly five minutes off the clock before St. Paul quarterback Brad Frank rolled right and found Dominic Dellisanti wide open in the end zone for a three-yard touchdown completion with 29 seconds remaining in the game. Trailing 28-27, the Flyers opted to go for two points instead of attempting to kick an extra point that would have tied the score.
It was a case of dj vu on the two-point attempt because Frank rolled right, away from the rush, and tossed a soft pass to Dellisanti to give the Flyers a 29-28 advantage.
The call to go for two was gutsy, yet, partly out of necessity. St. Paul's regular holder for extra points and field goal tries, running back Joe Graziani, was injured while carrying the football on a running play during the eventual game-winning drive. St. Paul coach John Livengood called a timeout to discuss the options before deciding on going for the two-point attempt.
"They said, 'Let's go for it, let's do it,' and so we did," Livengood said.
Graziani, who watched the two-point attempt from the Flyers' sideline, never doubted they could successfully finish off the Chieftains.
"We played with confidence and heart and we weren't giving up," said Graziani, who hauled in a nine-yard TD pass that gave St. Paul a 14-13 halftime lead.
Perhaps on any other night against any other team Hopewell-Loudon's performance would have been more than enough to claim a second straight regional championship.
Brose, who threw for 205 yards while completing 14 of 21 passes, including three for touchdowns, led the Chieftains on four scoring drives. He capped Hopewell-Loudon's first drive with a one-yard plunge to give the Chieftains a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
Brose found McAllister streaking behind a defender down the Flyers' sideline for a 49-yard TD pass that gave Hopewell-Loudon a 13-7 lead with 5:26 left in the second quarter. He also connected with Zach Yost for two TD passes in the second half.
Running back Sean Brickner carried the ball 20 times for 114 yards to lead a steady ground attack for the Chieftains. But the offensive productivity wasn't quite enough.
"What it came down to was we couldn't stop them at the goal line and that's our season," Brickner said.
Contact Donald Emmons at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6302.