The Suffield Academy Tigers roared past Belmont Hill in yesterday's NEPSAC Clark-Francis Bowl, scoring four touchdowns in the first quarter en route to a 29-27 victory at Belmont.
"The first 6 1/2 minutes we buried ourselves," Belmont Hill coach Kevin Fleming said. "I was proud of my kids in the second half. We just made way too many mistakes in the first six minutes."
Suffield (8-1) had all the momentum after its fast start, and still led, 26-14, at halftime. But Belmont Hill (7-2) kept plugging away, and closed the gap to 26-20 on Ryan Paganetti's 19-yard touchdown run.
Suffield's Chris Setian answered, though, kicking a 26-yard field goal with 13 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
"That field goal killed us," Fleming said. "We needed another touchdown."
Setian, who caught a TD pass and returned a blocked punt for another score in the first quarter, was a driving force all season, according to coach Drew Gamere.
Setian had just more than 80 all-purpose yards against the solid Belmont Hill defense.
"He's just an outstanding player," Gamere said. "He's a post-grad so this is kind of his second year of proving it. Every yard he gained today was certainly well earned because they were tough."
"This was the main goal for the whole season, we came out in fifth gear right off the bat," Setian said. "We kind of stuttered a little bit but the defense held strong. This was just a huge win for all of us."
Suffield receiver Thomas Uszakiewiczc accounted for the other touchdowns in the first quarter, a 70-yard kickoff return and a 30-yard return of a Paganetti fumble.
Belmont Hill's Steven Izen hauled in a 45-yard pass from Tyler West with nine minutes left in the first quarter and Paganetti added a 3-yard TD run with 30 seconds left in the first half to get Belmont Hill within 12.
But Setian's late field goal proved too much to overcome.
West ran for a TD with two minutes left in the game to make it 29-27 but Suffield was able to hang on for the win. Cheshire 14, Tilton 7 - Travis Hurd scored two touchdowns to lead the Cats (8-1) to a win in the Austin Bowl at Northfield Mount Hermon. Hurd scored on a 21-yard run in the first quarter, the only scoring in the first half. Hurd gave Cheshire a 12-0 lead on a 2-yard run in the third quarter. On the conversion, Dino Mancinelli connected with former Cambridge receiver Josh Adams (6 receptions). Tilton's touchdown came on a 1-yard run by senior Jermetrius Troy in the third quarter. Tilton (7-2) drove inside the Cheshire 20 with less than a minute to play but couldn't punch it in.
Milton Academy 29, King Low Heywood Thomas 14 - Josh Scott capped off a brilliant season by running for 310 yards and three touchdowns on 46 carries to rally the Mustangs to the Samson-Lorden Bowl victory in West Hartford. Scott, who also had 12 tackles on defense, finished the season with 2,112 yards. King Low Heywood Thomas led, 14-7, at the half before Milton (8-1) moved ahead on two touchdown runs by Scott and one by Chris Amrhein.
Trinity-Pawling 21, Kimball Union 12 - Matt Colucci's 30-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter was enough to lift Trinity-Pawling (8-1) to a win in the Easton-Estey Bowl at Cushing Academy.