Ludlowe holds off Harding
BRIDGEPORT -- As the Ludlowe Falcons gathered in front of their bench in a somewhat exhausted celebration, Harding interim head coach Steve Christy couldn't bring himself to go into his team's locker room. He kept wandering around outside the door, pulling the brim of his cap over his eyes to try and hide the tears.
Yet again, the Presidents had come so close to victory, only to see it disappear in the final seconds. This time it was the Falcons' Jack Dailey that scored from five yards out with just 25 seconds left to play to give Ludlowe a heart-stopping 47-40 win over the Presidents Thursday afternoon at Hedges Stadium.
"We played great," said Christy, who filled in for head coach Eddie Santiago, who was placed on administrative leave by citywide athletic director Neil Kavey earlier this week for an alleged altercation following last Saturday's game against Norwalk. "We're so good ... I mean, we're going to be good. I just hope that everyone stays with us. We don't need wins to validate that we're winners. These kids are doing great in the classroom, they're doing great in practice and they will learn to win."
They certainly know how to score. Freshman quarterback Taisun Phommachanh completed 23 of 39 passes for 335 yards and three touchdowns and also ran for 42 yards as the Presidents amassed 464 yards of total offense. But Harding was victimized by its own mistakes, losing two fumbled punts, a fumbled kickoff and having two interceptions.
"You can't win when you fumble the ball three times," Christy said. "We play hard but we've got to stop the mistakes. People tell me that we're a `great watch.' So right now, we're a great watch but we're going to surprise some people this year. We'll fix the D ... we'll fix the O, too. Just wait. I'm do damn proud of these kids."
While Phommachanh threw for three touchdowns, his counterpart, Ludlowe's Bryan Pacewicz, did him one better, tossing four TDs, all to senior receiver Patrick O'Leary, who caught eight passes for 140 yards. His TD grabs were for 18, 22, 15 and 31 yards.
"I didn't do it alone, Bryan was huge today," O'Leary said. "He was throwing the ball all over and we were finding the gaps in their defense. It was a hell of a game."
Pacewicz threw touchdown passes to Greg Burtula (eight yards) and O'Leary in the first quarter and added a 12-yard touchdown run and another TD throw to O'Leary in the second as the Falcons nursed a 26-24 halftime lead. Phommachanh threw TD passes to Jahzaari Mullings (50 yards) and Christian Hopkins (10 yards) and Xavier Bass caught a 9-yard option pass from Hopkins as the Presidents stayed right with the Falcons.
O'Leary's third TD catch gave Ludlowe a 32-24 lead but Harding tied the game on Daniel Bass' 5-yard touchdown run and Stephen Elliott's conversion catch as the third quarter ended.
O'Leary's fourth TD catch pushed Ludlowe back in front 40-32 but Phommachanh threw a 69-yard touchdown pass to Tyshawn Walker on the Presidents' second play from scrimmage after the Falcons' TD and the conversion tied the game at 40-40 with 10 minutes left.
With just 2:25 to go, Ludlowe started from the Harding 45 and a 16-yard pass to Jake Kiremidjian and a 15-yarder to O'Leary set up Dailey's winning TD with just 25 seconds left.
"Today was a day where we knew the offense had to go out and play better," Ludlowe coach Vin Camera said. "We knew their offense was balanced and we'd have to stop more options and we never really stopped their offense. But we were able to come out on top. It's nice."
LUDLOWE 14 12 8 15--47
HARDING 8 16 8 8--40
L--Greg Burtula, 8 pass Bryan Pacewicz (kick failed)
H--Jahzaari Mullings, 50 pass Taisun Phommachanh (Kanard Codrington pass Phommachanh)
L--Patrick O'Leary, 18 pass Pacewicz (Wil Parisi pass Pacewicz)
H--Christian Hopkins, 10 pass Phommachanh (Phommachanh run)
L--Pacewicz, 12 run (pass failed)
H--Xavier Bass, 9 pass Hopkins (Tyshawn Walker pass Phommachanh)
L--O'Leary, 22 pass Pacewicz (run failed)
L--O'Leary, 15 pass Pacewicz (run failed)
H--Bass, 5 run (Stephen Elliot pass Phommachanh)
L--O'Leary, 31 pass Pacewicz (Mitch Wycoff pass Pacewicz)
H--Walker, 69 pass Phommachanh (Walker run)
L--Jack Dailey, 5 run (Patrick O'Donovan kick)
Records: Ludlowe (3-1), Harding (1-3)