Mills football falls to Granby, 17-14. Story by John Nestor.
GRANBY - Lewis Mills is still learning how to win and the Spartans had another painful lesson on Saturday afternoon.
Nursing a seven point lead with a little more than four minutes to play, the Spartans made a couple of errors and they proved costly in a tough 17-14 loss to Granby.
"We had some chances and it's a tough loss but I am proud of the way we fought," Lewis Mills coach Jose Santana said. "It's a process and we have to learn how to close out games."
The Bears picked up their second straight win and second of the season with 10 points in the final four minutes, the winning points coming on a 36-yard field goal by Matt Holmes with 3.6 seconds to play.
The loss dropped Mills to 0-5 heading into next week's game with winless Housatonic/Wamogo.
"It's about the team believing in themselves," Granby coach Rich Gadoury said. "If the kids believe in themselves good things can happen. Now we've got two wins in a row, a homecoming win. I'm really proud do our kids."
The Spartans took the lead on a drive set up by an interception by Collin Thorn. A 14-yard return by third and late-hit penalty on the Bears set up a first and 10 ah the Granby 22 and Mills capitalized.
Lucas Lanning capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge and then threw a 2-point conversion pass to Dom Jankowski to give Mills a 14-7 lead with 4:23 to play.
The Spartans were pumped and could just about taste their first win of the season but the Bears had a trick or two up their sleeve and they pulled one out to tie up the game.
On the first play if its ensuing drive Granby went with a halfback pass and executed it to perfection.
Dominic Pagano took a toss and the Spartans played run and Pagano lofted a strike that hit Ian Downey in stride and resulted in a 55-yard TD that tied the game, 14-14, with 4:07 to play.
"We put that in during camp and had been working on it but never used it yet this season," Gadoury said. "I was glad to hear the call from our offensive coordinator and we ran it perfectly."
Mills got the ball back at its own 37 and drove into Granby territory before an interception by Holmes on 3rd-and-11 from the Bears 36 halted the drive and gave Granby the ball at its own seven with 1:49 to go.
With a nice mix of runs and passes the Bears moved into field goal range and Holmes came out to attempt a 41-yarded with 3.6 seconds to play. Mills called a timeout to ice him and made one final mistake that may have ultimately cost them the game.
When the teams came back in the field Mills sent out 12 players. The five-yard penalty moved the kick to a 36-yarded and those yards proved crucial as Holmes' boot just cleared the cross bar.
"That's a coaching mistake, we should have caught that," Santana said of the costly penalty. "We gave him a little help, but give him credit, he made the kick when it counted."
It was sweet redemption for Holmes who had been in a similar situation earlier this season against Hyde Leadership but missed a 34-yarder at the end of regulation in a game the Bears went on to lose 6-0 in overtime.
"I knew they were going to try and ice me and I just stayed focused on what I had to do," Holmes said. "I had gone back and worked on some things after the Hyde game and they paid off today."
But where Holmes felt joy in redemption Mills felt pain in a stinging loss, but Santana is confident his team will learn from the experience and come back ready to go.
"We play a lot of young kids and are learning," Santana said. "We are getting there and I believe we are a better team than our record shows. We just need to keep fighting and we'll get one."
Granby 17, Lewis Mills 14
Lewis Mills (0-5) 0 6 0 8 — 14
Granby (2-3) 7 0 0 10 – 17
G: John Brucker 5 run (Matthews Holmes kick)
LM: Collin Thorn 14 pass from Lucas Lanning (kick blocked)
LM: Lanning 1 run (Dom Jankowski pass from Lanning)
G: Ian Downey 55 pass from Dominic Pagano (Holmes kick)
G: Matthew Holmes 36 FG