In the face of adversity, Ludlowe football responds
Even in the face of its most trying conquest, the Fairfield Ludlowe football team maintained some semblance of poise in its game on Friday night against Westhill.
The Falcons had opportunities all night to pull away from its one-win brethren Vikings. Ludlowe out-possessed and out-gained Westhill all night, and yet those chances eluded the Falcons as they seem to have all year.
The Falcons led at halftime, 9-7, the first time Ludlowe had led at the half. But Ludlowe's luck changed quickly, as Westhill took its opening drive 65 yards for a touchdown. Ludlowe fumbled on its next offensive play and the Vikings recovered.
Westhill took that drive 15 yards, enhanced by three consecutive, mind-boggling, post-play, unsportsmanlike conduct fouls that inspired Ludlowe head coach Matt McCloskey to call timeout, simply to rein his team in from the edge.
"The penalties is what killed us," McCloskey said. "This is varsity football, we've got to keep our mouths shut and get back in the huddle."
Westhill then scored on third-and-goal from the 6-yard line.
"You put them down on the four-yard line, it's pretty hard to stop," McCloskey said.
So there was Ludlowe, trailing 20-9 in the third quarter, having just lost its last eight games, teetering on the brink of a winless season, with no hope in sight. What did Ludlowe do?
The Falcons ran the ball, and got back into it. However, despite Ludlowe's ensuing touchdown drive, it could not seem to get over the hump. The Falcons missed the two-point conversion, missed a field goal on the second play of the fourth quarter, and running back Nate Ryan fumbled in the Westhill end zone with just 7:36 left in the game.
"There's no excuse for that," Ryan said. "Ball security needs to be worked on."
Even in the face of all of that adversity, the Falcons persevered, and it all came from McCloskey, who still had faith in his squad.
"Of course I thought we were going to win," McCloskey said. "You'd be a bad coach if you think your team isn't going to win."
Ludlowe went 30 yards to take the lead when Ryan scampered in from seven yards out. Chris Kennedy blasted a field goal with 42 seconds left that made the advantage six.
Then the Falcons defense, which outside of its blowup in the third quarter played outstanding all night, came up with the clincher. Ryan Moore intercepted Westhill quarterback Peter Cernasky with 38 seconds left, and Ludlowe, finally, had its first win of the season.
"We gave up no easy yardage," Ryan said. "They did a fantastic job."
Maybe it was because it was senior night, or because the team had not won all year, but Hammons and Ryan showed a little extra emotion off of the squad's first victory of the season.
"When you win, it all seems worth it," Hammons said.
Now the Falcons can turn to its game with arch-rival Warde on Thanksgiving with markedly less pressure. Ludlowe has its win, and can focus its sights on spoiling the Mustangs' bid for a .500 season.
"That's the super bowl of the town," Ryan said. "This is our last chance."