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Stonington football. | Tim Martin, The Westerly Sun |

STONINGTON — Stonington High football coach A.J. Massengale said it was the right moment and the right time to pull his ace two-point conversion play out of his pocket.

The Bears had just scored with 24 seconds left in the game to pull within one point of Ledyard. Massengale had already decided to go for the win — a gutsy move made easier by the fact his kicker was injured — if Stonington found itself in that position.

"When Ledyard scored with [4:14 left] to go up by seven, we were delighted to have so much time," Massengale said. "I told my coaches we're going for the win, not overtime."

After Dorian White scrambled for a 5-yard touchdown run, Stonington pulled out "the 78 special." Halfback Matt Castigliolo lined up at quarterback and took the center snap. He pitched to usual quarterback Lucian Tedeschi, who lined up as the left wingback and rolled right. Tedeschi faked like he was running and threw to tight end Pat Obrey, who was wide open in the right corner of the end zone.

The play capped a 70-yard drive and gave the Bears a 14-13 win over the previously unbeaten Colonels in an ECC out-of-division game Friday night at Palmer Field.

For Stonington (4-2), the fantastic finish highlighted perhaps the best ECC win in Massengale's 18-year tenure

"We told Pat he'd be wide open," Massengale said. "It was awesome as the play developed. Assistant coaches were yelling in the headset, 'He's wide open.' We've never used that play but we practice it often.

"Is this my best win? Our 28-21 win over Ledyard in 2013 was huge, but those seniors had been winning for three years. Just for the fact that this group has been through some challenging times, this is their signature win and could be the best ever."

Dorian White is a link between both wins. The Stonington senior was an elementary schooler in 2013 when older brother Divante White helped the Bears down playoff-bound Ledyard in an offensive shootout. Dorian was a standout defensively Friday at end and also came up big on the winning drive, catching a 30-yard pass, hitting Luke Lowry with a 15-yard pass to the 5 after Tedeschi was shaken up, and scoring the TD with 24 seconds left to make it 13-12.

"I was in the fifth grade in my brother's senior year," Dorian said. "That was a big win and so is this. Nobody predicted that we'd beat Ledyard."

And few could have predicted the game's defensive-minded style.

Ledyard (5-1), hampered by star running back Ryan Outlow's leg injuries that "limited" him to 80 yards on 14 carries, managed just one score per half. The game was tied 6-6 after two quarters, with Stonington scoring just one defensive touchdown on freshman linebacker Patrick McGugan's 36-yard interception return of an errant screen pass.

"It was a real strategy-filled, hard-hitting game, the kind we haven't really played in much," Massengale said.

Defensively for Stonington, tackles Dylan Ackley and Trevor Costa, White at end and linebackers Jack Zuro and McGugan, son of Stonington Hall of Fame athlete and coach Lauren Ellis McGugan, stood out. McGugan tackled Ryan Outlow short on a two-point conversion attempt, which proved fruitful for the Bears.

Penalties (eight by Ledyard, five by Stonington) made the first half choppy. But the second half was riveting. Stonington, at the start of the third quarter, showed a new four-wideout set to open up its running game. Tedeschi (19 for 112 yards) led the Bears on a 14-play, 68-yard drive that was stopped inches short on fourth and goal from the 1.

"I thought I was in," Tedeschi said. "It was tough not to get the call but we didn't dread it."

The rest of the game turned into a 1970s-style field-position tussle. Ledyard's Nick Eddy, a defensive standout, punted to inside the Stonington 1 early in the fourth quarter. Ledyard stopped Stonington and drove 41 yards to score on James Green's 7-yard run. Eddy's kick made it 13-7 with 4:14 left.

Tedeschi's 30-yard pass to White, Stonington's opening-game starter at quarterback, and Tedeschi's 5-yard run on fourth and 3, were the key plays of the winning drive.

"Dorian is a dynamic athlete," Massengale said. "It's great to see him contribute because things haven't always gone his way after he got injured in the first game."

Tedeschi ran for 5, 5 and minus 1 before he left the game briefly after a tackle. White stepped in with a minute left and hit Lowry for a 15-yard gain to the 5. One play later, White scored.

Then the 78 special became part of Stonington football history.

"The play was perfectly executed," Tedeschi said. "It's a play where if the receiver isn't open, I can run it in. But Pat was wide open."

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