MERIDEN — Maloney football players were understandably in shock following Friday night’s crushing 30-28 defeat to Greenwich at Falcon Field.
The No. 3 Spartans were protecting a 28-27 lead as No. 1 Greenwich worked its way down the field with 1:10 left in the game and no timeouts.
Eventually, with 0.5 seconds left on the clock, Erick Perino booted a 42-yard field goal to decide the contest in dramatic fashion.
“They did a good job dinking and dunking it down field and getting the ball out of bounds there at the end with .5 seconds left,” Maloney coach Kevin Frederick said. “There are a lot of things that happened in that last sequence that I’m disappointed about and have to address. I thought we had the game won and it’s just a heartbreaker.”
The Spartans had a chance to run out the clock after turning the Cardinals over on downs with 2:14 on the clock.
Maloney took over deep in Greenwich territory, but was unable to get a first down. The drive was hurt by a procedure penalty and the Spartans ended up turning the ball back over on downs at the Greenwich 26.
“(Maloney QB) Ethan (Nedinsky) hung in the pocket and made some really good throws,” Frederick said. “We just didn’t make enough of them. We didn’t get that first down at the end.
“I didn’t like the offsides — too many penalties,” Frederick added. “We didn’t deserve that win in my mind. Too many mistakes.”
Maloney’s Trevor Marrow, who had stymied the previous Greenwich possession with a quarterback sack, had another one at the beginning of the eventual game-winning drive, but a Spartan player was down with an injury. So instead of the clock ticking away, there was a stoppage in play.
Greenwich coach Anthoney Morello it was a great game no matter the outcome.
“To me, whether he made the kick or missed it, it was a great football game either way,” Morello said. “There are things to work on. I’m just so proud of that (field goal) unit for stepping up in that time and coming through.”
With the victory, Greenwich remained the state’s No. 1 in both the GameTime CT media poll and Hartford Courant coaches poll. Maloney dropped one notch to No. 4.
Frederick noted that the Spartans, now 2-1, have plenty of games to play, starting Friday night back at Falcon Field in a CCC Tier 1 matchup with Simsbury.
“We’ve got to bounce back and we hope we have 10 games left,” said Frederick, referencing a postseason run. “I still think we are one of the best teams in the state of Connecticut. That’s a really good team that’s always in it and we hope we can be the best team in Class L. Obviously, we want to be the No. 1 team in the state and we fell a little short today.”
Nedinsky tossed three touchdowns, two to Jesus Martell and one to Donte Kelly.
Kelly caught the go-ahead touchdown with 3:56 to go in the game — a 10-yard dart from Nedinsky — to put the Spartans up 28-27.
“We will learn from our mistakes and what we have to execute, and no more penalties,” Kelly said. “They are the No. 1 team in the state and we proved ourselves tonight, but we have a lot to work on.
“I wanted this game; we all wanted it,” Kelly said. “But we will bounce back.”