Fifth-seeded New Canaan got a big defensive stop from linebacker Dylan Leeming on a two-point conversion with under two minutes left in the game to help secure a 27-26 victory over fourth-seeded New London in the CIAC Class L quarterfinals.
New Canaan scored the game-winning touchdown on a 32-yard keeper by quarterback Matt Milano and running back Kevin McDonough ran in the decisive two-point conversion, but it was Leeming's stop that everyone was talking about after the game.
"That team made a lot of plays, I give them all the credit in the world, but we made a couple more," McDonough said. "That play by Leeming down at the end, that was one of the best plays I've ever seen."
New London's Kyle McKinnon took a pitch right, but reversed the field and raced for the pylon on the left side. Leeming took the best angle he could and made the stop at the goal line.
"That was our best player against their best player right there," New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli said. "We won the battle by inches."
While New London's star back ran for over 200 yards on 37 carries, it was the New Canaan running game that stole the show. The Rams, usually an aerial attack, were forced to go to the ground in tough weather and against a tough New London secondary. McDonough rumbled for over 200 yards of his own and a touchdown to go with the two-point conversion.
"A lot of people think of us as a passing team," McDonough said. "But our line proved that we can do it on the ground too, especially in weather like this."
Matt Milano, one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the state was limited to just 86 yards passing, but made one of the biggest plays of the season with a 32-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter after New London took the lead 20-19.
"This was one of Matt's lowest yardage outputs, but he got the job done in other ways for us," Marinelli said.
New Canaan will face top-seeded Windsor in the Class L semifinals on Saturday.