Oct. 16—STONINGTON — Some obstacles facing Killingly High School early Friday night:
Hadn't played in three weeks. Hour bus ride. Staring at a capacity crowd across the way. And then a few minutes into the game, there was a 7-0 deficit and leading rusher Jack Sharpe limping off the field with a tender ankle.
"I wasn't nervous at all," Sharpe said.
Sharpe quickly found his way back to the field and rushed for 190 yards and five touchdowns as Killingly denied Stonington a chance at the Eastern Connecticut Conference Division III title with a 32-7 win.
Killingly (4-0, 2-0) leads the division alone.
"We've been down early in our last few games and we always come back," Sharpe said.
Killingly outgained Stonington 206-73 in the first half and had an 18-7 lead at halftime.
"They are obviously a physical, well=coached team," Stonington coach A.J. Massengale said.
Lucian Tedeschi's 54-yard gain set up the Bears' first score — Tedeschi's 10-yard touchdown run. Stonington had a 7-0 lead and led 7-6 until late in the first half, despite seven of its first 15 plays going for negative or no yardage.
"We've got to do a better job responding to adversity," Massengale said. "We told the kids that after the game. Players and coaches alike. Calm yourself and find ways to solve the problem."
It doesn't get easier for the Bears (4-2) who playunbeaten Ledyard next week.
Killingly, meanwhile, is two wins away from the division title and remains in the middle of the Class M playoff race.
Neal even admitted he was a bit concerned before the game that his team hadn't played in a while and that Stonington's sense of purpose — with a chance to clinch the division — might have been greater than Killingly's.
"We just talked to the kids about relaxing this week. They were uptight. The expectations are so high now," Neal said, alluding to his program's five consecutive playoff appearances. "We don't want the playing afraid to lose instead of playing to win."
Sharpe, though, delivered with his 190 yards and five scores.
"This was a big game for both teams," he said. "Like an ECC championship game."