McGuinness kicks Warde to win

The Fairfield Warde Mustangs posted a memorable 29-28 FCIAC football victory over Bassick of Bridgeport 29-28 at Tetreau-Davis Field on Friday.
Conor McGuinness kicked a 20-yard field goal with 4.8 seconds remaining to give coach Duncan DellaVolpe’s Mustangs their first win of the season.
For Bassick (0-4), the controversial finish made this loss  hard to swallow.
The Lions completed a comeback from a 20-0 deficit when quarterback Vochan Fowler tossed a 50-yard touchdown pass to Tyreik Gilbert with 1:52 to play.
Warde, down 28-26, had no choice but to march down the field behind the offensive line of Colin McKeown, Bobby Walker, Travis Thompson, Gabe Dias and Billy Money and to get its first win of 2012.
The drive began with a 29-yard kickoff return by Ryan Jacob to the Mustangs’ 45-yard line.
T.J. Gallagher ran 10 yards and Max Garrett dropped back and found Gallagher coming out of the backfield for a six-yard gain.
Garrett scampered for 16 yards on the next play, then threw consecutive incompletion passes.
His third-and-10 throw was his most telling of the game.
Garrett’s pass to Brown resulted in a  pass interference call on the Lions to give Warde a first down at the eight-yard line.
Gallagher ran left to the seven, and then lost one on his next carry.
With 11.2 seconds left, Garrett scampered five yards for the first down, got back to the line of scrimmage and spiked the ball to stop the clock.
Oddly, the clock had never ran from the time Garrett took the snap and scrambled to Bassick’s three-yard line.
The referees conferred and decided that Warde had seven seconds left.
Bassick head coach Derrick Lewis and his staff disagreed with that call, arguing that the clock, if running, may have ran out during the course of the two plays.
Garrett spiked the ball again to stop the clock when play resumed, and DellaVolpe brought McGuinness in for the field goal.
Ultimately, McGuinness nailed the 20-yarder, the first of his career, to earn Warde the Homecoming game win.
“We dug down deep, we hung in there somehow,” DellaVolpe said. “I’m happy for McGuiness that he made that field goal.
“He’s a kid that came over from the soccer team to play football, and he’s been a great addition in a lot of ways, so I’m really happy for him tonight.”
Warde, after leading 20-0 in the first quarter, was outscored by the Lions 28-9, yet held on for the last-second win.
“Two days ago in practice, I missed that,” McGuinness said. “I pulled it just to the left so that was going through my head too and I said, ‘now’s not the time to miss.’
“So I went out there, cleared my head, and did what I had to do.”
The Mustangs struck first on a 75-yard kickoff return by Jacob.
After Bassick went for the first down on fourth-and-two in its own territory, the Mustangs marched 42 yards in five plays capped by Colin Ventura’s 17-yard run for a 13-0 lead.
Following a Bassick three-and-out, Warde went 57 yards thanks to runs from Dawud Mohammed, who finished with 108 yards rushing, and Ventura.
Mohammed scored from a yard out to give the Mustangs a commanding 20-0 lead before the end of the first quarter.
The Lions responded with a seven-play drive, capped with a 15-yard keeper by Fowler, who ran for 95 yards and passed for 158.
Fowler kept it again to score the two-point conversion.
The Mustangs returned serve with a 10-play drive thanks to five scrambles from Garrett that set up Gallagher for the three-yard score and a 26-8 lead.
“No matter what, we’re never going to be that team that gives up,” DellaVolpe said.
“We have great senior leadership, Jacobs and Jacques…Tommy Ward played phenomenal tonight causing that fumble which really helped us out….Dan Skelton, I can’t tell you enough about Dan Skelton.
“Those guys kept talking to their teammates and TJ Gallagher stepped up tonight. It was a good effort…We could’ve easily folded.”
At this point, the momentum swung to the Lions, who made it 26-16 at the half on Fowler’s six-yard run and a two-point conversion by Julian Fyffe.
“They started changing up their defense a little bit, they started taking gaps and it was an adjustment for our kids,” Dellavolpe said.
“They made a good adjustment and made things tougher on us. We’re trying to do a lot of things. Trying to run the clock, trying to run the ball, trying to get different people touches…It came back to bite us a little bit.”
Bassick kept climbing back in the second half, with an eight-play drive to cut the deficit to 26-22 on the opening drive of the second half.
Later in the third quarter, Aaron Bernstein stripped the football from Fowler on a keeper, which was recovered by senior Tommy Ward.
On their next offensive possession, Bassick scored again to take the lead when Fowler faked the handoff to Fyffe and hit Gilbert on the deep post, making it 28-26 in favor of Bassick.

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