WINSTED, Oct. 5 – The game had long been decided when Gilbert/Northwestern had its Pequot Conference football game ended Friday night at Van Why Field early in the fourth quarter.
The Yellowjackets had built a 35-point lead over visiting Sport Medicine Science Academy/University High, the third-year co-op team from Hartford. But with 10:07 left in the fourth quarter, Patrick Cooke, athletic director at The Gilbert School, called the game officials to the side.
The game had to stop and the players, spectators and officials had to leave the field because Winsted Police said that Life Star, the helicopter that transfers critically injured patients to Hartford Hospital would be landing on the field shortly.
A young boy tried to commit suicide on the Gilbert campus. Word spread fast among the crowd. There were parents with tears in their eyes. A few young girls were crying. A festive atmosphere for the only night game of the season at Van Why Field and a impending big win disappeared quickly.
Life Star didn’t use the field, landing at the nearby Winsted Health Center but it was decided to end the game after a 30-minute delay with Gilbert taking home a 35-0 victory and improving to 2-2 on the season. The visiting Tigerhawks slipped to 0-3.
“To continue wouldn’t have served any purpose. There are bigger things in life than football,” Gilbert/Northwestern coach Scott Salus said. “Some (of the Gilbert players) were emotionally distressed so to put them on the field wouldn’t have been appropriate.”
Graham Martin, head coach of SMSA/University, gathered his players near midfield to explain the decision to end the contest. “There are team members from Gilbert who are friends with the young man. This is just the right thing to do,” he said.
The Gilbert squad and the game officials joined the Tigerhawks and Martin led the group in a prayer for the injured boy.
The Yellowjackets took control immediately. They capped off an 11-play, 61-yard drive with a nine-yard run from QB John Lippincott, who ran for 72 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
On its second possession, it took Gilbert/NWR just two plays to extend its lead to 14 points. Lippincott found John Ambrozaitis behind the secondary and launched a 55-yard bomb for the second TD of the game.
SMSA moved to the ball from its 35-yard line to the 16-yard line. But the drive stalled with a pair of incomplete passes. The Yellowjackets extended their lead to 21-0 on a 31-yard TD pass to Seth Dayton from Lippincott.
The Tigerhawks looked like they might make it a game. On 13 plays, SMSA/University marched to the Gilbert 3-yard line, converting twice on separate third down and two plays to keep the drive alive.
But on fourth down and goal from its own four-yard line, Alicea tried to run the ball into the end zone. Before he could cross the goal line, he tossed the ball to a teammate in the end zone. Shocked, he didn’t react quickly enough and Ambrozaitis scooped up the loose ball and rambled with the football to SMSA’s 38-yard line.
“If we’re going to get beat, we’re going to get beat with younger kids,” Martin said. “We made too many mistakes and they were self-inflicted. You have to come to play and you have to be a player. Some of our players just don’t understand that yet.”
SMSA coughed up the ball on its second play of the third quarter. Gilbert responded with a short 26-yard drive with Tony Ortiz scoring on a 9-yard run for a 28-0 lead. On a 54-yard run, Lippincott ran hard to get the touchdown for the Falcons and a 35-0 lead.
“John made some great decisions with the bar and read the defense well,” Salius said.
Ortiz led all rushers with 114 yards on 14 carries while Lippincott ran for 72 yards on seven carries. The best offensive threat for the Tigerhawks was QB Wilfredo Alicea, who ran for 70 yards on seven carries.
SMSA’s best drive was probably its final one. The Tigerhawks completed a 24-yard pass from Alicea to Kayron Macon and two plays later, Alicea completed a 22-yard TD pass from Lippincott. The Hawks were on the Stanford 16 yard line for review.
Gilbert/Northwestern travels to Avon for a showdown next Saturday on the road.
Gilbert/Northwestern 35, SMSA/University 0
SMSA/Univ. (0-3) 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Gilbert/NWR (2-2) 14 7 14 0 -- 35
G: John Lippincott 9 run (John Ambrozaitis kick), 6:49
G: Ambrozaitis 55 pass from Lippincott (Ambrozaitis kick), 3:52
G: Seth Dayton 31 pass from Lippincott (Ambrozaitis kick), 6:59
G: Anthony Ortiz 9 run (Ambrozaitis kick), 9:24
G: Lippincott 46 run (Ambrozaitis kick), 4:35
RUSHING: Gilbert – John Lippincott 7-72, Tony Ortiz 14-114, Matthew Nieves 1-5, Sean Dayton 2-15; SMSA/U – Kayron Macon 4-8, Wilfredo Alicea 7-70, Ezequiel Ortiz 10-31
PASSING: Gilbert – Lippincott 6-10-0, 158; SMSA/U. – Alicea 5-13-1, 49
RECEIVING: Gilbert – Thomas Casey 3-51, John Ambrozaitis 1-11; Seth Dayton 1-31, Nick Pedrolini 2-21; SMSA/Unv. – Kayron Macon 3-17, Patrick Richards 1-minus 2.