Fantastic Knights' season hits wall in playoff game
By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Ellington/Somers - posted Thu., Dec. 1, 2011
After an undefeated regular season, expectations were high for the Ellington/Somers football team, but a plucky opponent and a downpour late in their first-round tournament game dealt the Knights a fatal blow. “This is a 'yank your heart right out of your body' [feeling],” said coach Keith Tautkus, after his team saw a two-touchdown lead evaporate in the fourth quarter on the way to the overtime loss.
The Knights got on the board first, with Jason Moustafa running in from the 4-yard line with just under two minutes left in the first quarter. A long run by Jake Schneider set up that goal-line plunge.
Wolcott struck back early in the second, with a nice 30-yard catch by versatile running back Devante Bonvillian to make it 7-6 Ellington. Ellington survived an early gaff, when a fumble on the next drive resulted in nothing but a missed field goal try by Wolcott.
The Knights got a big run by Moustafa, which, after a facemask foul on Wolcott, set them up on the 6-yard line, where quarterback Bryan Rider was able to punch it in himself. But, just before the half, Wolcott quarterback Michael Nicol engineered a drive that ended with his own 2-yard touchdown run and kept the Eagles close, 13-12.
Ellington seemed to come out of the locker room with momentum on their side, tacking on two unanswered touchdowns in the third quarter, to go up 26-12.
With 8:42 left in the game, Nicol dove into the end zone again. “With a quarter to play, I thought we were in good shape,” Tautkus said, “even with that touchdown.”
Knights miscues on their drives kept them from scoring, which led to a late Wolcott drive that was capped with a touchdown pass from Nicol to receiver Chad Acevedo and a 2-point conversion run by Bonvillian, tying the game at 26.
In overtime (each team gets 4 downs from the 10-yard line), Wolcott scored on another Nicol-Acevedo pass in the second play.
Ellington tried three runs – which got them closer – and then a pass play that was batted down by Wolcott defenders, handing the Knights' their only loss of their 2011 campaign.
Tautkus said penalties and several missed opportunities could be blamed for the loss.
“We had a lot of plays to finish it off, and we just didn't get it done. You could point to many plays,” Tautkus said, adding that his players can still hang their hats on a tremendous season of accomplishment.
“We had a great season,” he said. “We were 10-0, and we've been playing playoff games since the Enfield game [on Oct. 28], and this was our fourth game in two weeks. That takes a toll on a team, so I thought we played very hard. There were just a few plays that we didn't get, and that made the difference in the game.”
Tautkus said the program will lose 18 players to graduation, but that means there will be plenty of room for younger players to step up.
“We're losing a lot of our size,” he said, “but we have a lot of skill guys that we're happy about. We'll rebuild a little bit, make some corrections, and I think we'll do all right.”