Valley Regional stuns Ansonia for Class S-Large title
NEW BRITAIN - Valley Regional/Old Lyme's first state title will go down as one for the ages for a number of reasons.
Chris Jean-Pierre ran for a four-yard touchdown with 22 seconds to go and Jared Roche converted the extra point to lift Valley Regional/Old Lyme to a 21-20 victory over Ansonia in the Class S-Large state title game Saturday at Veterans Stadium.
The top-seeded Valleycats (13-0) earned their first state title in their first championship game appearance by scoring three touchdowns in the final 6:19 against a Chargers team that is synonymous with state championships.
"It's just incredible," Valley Regional coach Tim King said. "To go up and win against a team like Ansonia is just a dream come true. I don't want it to end."
The championship almost never began as Ansonia (11-2) led 14-0 after three quarters and 20-7 with 5:01 to go after a 93-yard TD run by quarterback Jai'quan McKnight but the Chargers could not convert the try for two after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the run moved the ball to the 18.
The point proved costly as Jean-Pierre, who accounted for all three Valley TDs, ran for two scores in the final 3:26 to cap a wild fourth quarter comeback.
"There was a little doubt creeping in," Jean-Pierre said. "We just kept fighting, kept hoping for something."
After McKnight's big run the Valleycats and Jean-Pierre answered right back. Jean-Pierre capped the scoring drive with an eight-yard TD run and it was again a one score game at 20-14 with 3:26 to go.
Ansonia took over deep in its own territory and looked like they were going to get out of trouble again and run out the clock when Tyler Bailey burst through a hole out to the 41 but he was stripped and standout Valley linebacker Justin Cheverier came up with the ball.
That play set up the winning drive and Jean-Pierre went around the left end on fourth and goal from the four to tie the game at 20 and set up Jared Roche who kicked the PAT that proved to be the difference.
"Chris just said give me the ball," King said. "We got a couple good blocks and the refs hands went up for a TD, the rest is history."
History for the Valleycats, but not for the Chargers, who were looking for a fourth consecutive state title. Ansonia was playing in its 28th state championship game and was going for title No. 20 but it was not to be.
"It feels like our hearts have been ripped out," Ansonia coach Tom Brockett said. "We played lights out defense for 40 minutes and in the last eight minutes we just collapsed. It was an unbelievable comeback by them."