OAKDALE — Senior Montville halfback Jeremiah Crowley wore two different numbers during Friday’s ECC Medium Division game, but the Stonington High football team couldn’t tackle him in either uniform.
Crowley ran roughshod over the Bears for all four quarters, and by game’s end it was announced from the press box that the Indians’ halfback had accumulated and unofficial state-record total of 526 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in a 49-37 win.
Ansonia’s Alex Thomas owned the record with 518 yards on 44 carries in a 2007 game.
Stonington coach A.J. Massengale was exasperated with his defense after the game.
“We did not tackle well,” he said. “He’s a good running back and we did not tackle well. We need to re-evaluate what we do in practice because we obviously do not do enough with blocking or tackling.”
Crowley accumulated his record total with the help of a number of big plays.
The senior tailback had four runs of more than 60 yards and seven runs of at least 20 yards.
In addition for accounting for nearly all of Montville’s yardage Crowley also scored all seven of the Indians’ touchdowns.
Massengale said that there was nothing fancy or deceptive about the way the Indians (1-2, 1-0 ECC-Medium) attacked the Bears’ defense.
“They ran the same play over and over again and they just didn’t tackle him,” he said.
While Stonington never really had a good quarter defensively, Crowley did most of his damage in the first quarter when he rushed for 207 yards on 10 carries.
Crowley capped a four-play drive with a 29-yard touchdown to open the scoring and put Montville up 7-0.
The Bears had to punt after four plays on its second drive and Montville took over on its own 29-yard line.
Crowley broke a 65-yard TD run on the third play of Montville’s second drive to make the score 13-0.
The game seemed to be on the verge of getting out of hand when Zach Poirier went 73 yards on the Bears (0-2, 0-1 ECC-Medium) next offensive play.
Montville came right back with another touchdown drive keyed by a 62-yard scamper from Crowley and, after a 2-point conversion, Montville’s lead was 21-6.
Poirier again led the charge on the Bears’ next drive and scored on an 18-yard run and the Bears cut the lead down to 21-12 still with 4 minutes and 42 seconds left in the first quarter.
The scoring quieted down thanks to a number of Montville penalties and a couple of turnovers and the game stayed at 21-12 until halftime.
The Bears looked like they might be able to take control despite their defensive difficulties thanks to three straight Indian turnovers in the second half.
Bow Johnson intercepted Tyler Quidgeon’s first pass of the second half and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown that made the score 21-18 just seconds into the third quarter.
Montville got the ball back at its own 44-yard line after a failed onside kick, but Ryan Francis halted that Indian drive when he intercepted a Quidgeon pass on the second play.
A 31-yard Matt Mitchell run set up Poirier’s third TD run of the game, this time a 6-yarder, and gave the Bears their first lead of the game 24-21.
“I know we’re a resilient team,” Massengale said. “We definitely know our kids are never out of a football game but when you don’t tackle or block... we have to fix it.”
A good kick return set up Montville at Stonington’s 25-yard line but Poirier’s second interception of the game ended that Indian threat.
Crowley capped the next Indian drive with a 6-yard TD run to make it 28-24, Poirier responded for Stonington with a 74-yard kick return on the next play and the score went to 30-24 but Crowley scored on Montville’s next offensive play on a 70-yard run.
Matt Mitchell’s 16-yard touchdown put Stonington up 37-36 before Montville was finally able to close the Bears out with two more fourth quarter scores that brought the game to its 49-37 final.
The Bears lost to Montville 35-27 in 2012.
Friday’s game was the ECC-Medium opener for both teams and the first league game for the Bears since moving up from ECC-Small.
Next up for the Bears is a visit to Waterford to take on the Lancers Friday at 6:30 p.m.