FALMOUTH — After seeing a two-touchdown lead evaporate in the fourth quarter, Greely rebounded for a 27-20 overtime victory Friday night in a Western Class B football game to retain possession of a rotating trophy in the 11th edition of the Battle of Route 9.
“Falmouth-Greely games are always interesting,” said Greely Coach Dave Higgins. “It really doesn’t matter what our records are.”
As it happens, both teams ended their regular seasons at 5-3, although Greely entered with a slightly higher rating in the Crabtree standings.
The Rangers seemed to have the game well in hand after taking a 20-6 lead late in the third quarter when Matt Pisini completed a 5-yard touchdown pass to Will Peck and Christian Kroot booted the extra point.
It was Kroot who had wrested momentum from Falmouth on the opening drive of the second half by returning an interception 79 yards for a touchdown, then squibbing a kickoff that bounced crazily and led to a Greely fumble recovery at the 11.
A holding penalty had helped Falmouth prevent another touchdown, and yellow flags continued to gum up Greely’s effort to put the game out of reach. The Rangers were penalized nine times for 70 yards.
“In the third quarter we were very dominant running the ball,” Higgins said. “Then we kept shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties.”
Falmouth roared back in the fourth quarter behind Noah Nelson, who completed five passes on a nine-play, 65-yard drive that ended with I.V. Stucker juking two defenders and diving inside the pylon to complete a 20-yard pass play. Jared DeWolfe’s PAT kick made it 20-13 with a little under six minutes remaining.
An onside kick attempt failed, but two more penalties prevented Greely from making a first down and Nelson proceeded to engineer an 86-yard scoring drive that included three completions to Connor Aube, the longest for 33 yards. Nelson ran two draws up the middle for 28 yards and snuck in from the 1 with only 1:37 left.
DeWolfe’s extra-point kick made it 20-20.
For overtime, each team was given a first down at the 10. Greely went first and scored on its second play, a 7-yard post pattern from Pisini to a tightly covered Connor Hanley. Kroot’s kick made it 27-20.
“Connor Hanley’s a great receiver and Matty did a good job throwing the ball,” said Higgins, whose quarterback’s only passing attempt of the fourth quarter on a cold night resulted in intentional grounding.
Falmouth’s attempt to match Greely failed when Nate Grandchamp knocked away a fourth-down pass from Nelson to Stucker in the corner of the end zone. Falmouth gained only 2 yards in overtime, on a first- down run by Aube.
On second down, Hal Baston rushed Nelson into an incompletion – and knocked him out for one play. On third down, Storm Covens took over at quarterback and his pass to Aube in traffic over the middle also fell incomplete.
“We dodged one,” Higgins said. “That’s the long and short of it.”
James Ferrar finished with 113 yards on 16 carries for Greely. Pisini added 69 yards, also on 16 carries.
For Falmouth, Nelson completed 14 of 28 passes for 199 yards. He said the comeback will help Falmouth in the playoffs.
“It gives this team a lot of confidence,” he said. “We hope to improve upon it next week.”
Each team had trouble moving the ball early. The first quarter featured more punts (four) than first downs (three).
Greely finally reached the end zone on its fifth drive, a six-play march covering 58 yards, all on the ground. Ferrar made the final four carries and broke a tackle on a 15-yard scoring run with 3:40 left in the half.
After a false start on what appeared to be the beginnings of a trick play, Kroot kicked a longer-than-usual point-after attempt for a 7-0 lead.
Falmouth answered quickly with help from a 44-yard kickoff return by Stucker. Nelson then connected twice on passes to Stucker, to the left side for 18 yards and the right for 20. That set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Covens with 1:48 left.
The PAT kick sailed wide, however, leaving Greely with a 7-6 halftime lead.
“I’m proud of the kids; they played hard,” said Falmouth Coach John Fitzsimmons. “I surely would have liked to see them walk away with the W but sometimes life doesn’t go that way.”
Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at: