A gallant comeback fell just short for a high school football team that the entire country was rooting for Tuesday night in Newtown, Conn.
Down 35-13 in the third quarter, Newtown (Conn.)
fought all the way back but a 2-point conversion pass was knocked away with 16 seconds left, securing a 35-33 Class LL
quarterfinal win for Ridgefield
over the top-seeded and previously unbeaten Nighthawks (12-1).
See more photos from the game below.See MaxPreps interactive football brackets for all 50 states.
According to the Connecticut Post
, Newtown's Cooper Gold
scored on a 6-yard run with 16 seconds left, but quarterback Andrew Tarantino
was pressured heavily by Patrick Weston on the 2-point try and his pass fell incomplete in the end zone.
Ridgefield (10-2), the eighth seed, recovered an onside kick and ran out the clock ending a remarkable and emotional season for Newtown, located just a few miles from where the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that claimed 26 lives took place on Dec. 14, 2012.
The players dedicated their season to the victims of the massacre by wearing a green and white (Sandy Hook's colors) logo on their helmets with No. 26. In its season opener — a 26-7 win over Pomperaug — the team wore special green and white jerseys
with the inscriptions "Sandy Hook" on the front and "Stay Strong" above the numbers on the back.
Before Tuesday's game, the Nighthawks had outscored opponents 439-138. Tarantino, the state's ninth-leading passer, had thrown for 2,414 yards, 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Gold had rushed for 1,564 yards and 17 more scores. The defense had allowed 14 points in its previous four games combined.
"It's a very tough loss," Newtown coach Steve George told the Post after the game. "This loss hurts a lot. I feel bad for our seniors, who are a great group of players."
Gold, the state's 14th-best rusher, told foxsports.com
last week: "We like to think we put a smile on someone's face every time we get a win."
Or a gallant defeat.