BRANFORD — It hadn’t been the prettiest game for Lyman Hall. The Trojans had been playing catchup for most of the night.
In the end, though, LH had a chance to overtake Branford in their SCC Tier 3 football season opener on Friday.
Instead, the Hornets turned the Trojans over and, with that, it was over, 26-21.
Turnovers and penalties undermined a strong Lyman Hall effort throughout. After Branford drew first blood with a grinding eight-minute drive that culminated with 4-yard pass from Sean Kelly to Aidan MacNeil for a 6-0 lead, the Trojans were on the verge of answering, driving to the Branford 1 only to fumble.
The Hornets coughed it right back up at the 8, LH took over and quarterback Sean Pragano threw a 5-yard TD pass to Furkan Parcal. With Jake Lynn’s PAT, LH had a 7-6 lead with 7:38 to go before half.
It wouldn’t hold. A mere 1:30 later, Kelly and MacNeil connected again, this time from 47 yards.
Another Kelly-to-MacNeil dagger came just 24 seconds before halftime. The duo connected for their third TD of the half, an 18-yarder.
The only thing not going Branford’s way was in the conversion department. After missing two PATs, the Hornets tried for two, failed, and went into halftime up 18-7.
LH received the opening kick of the second half and got on the march. It ended abruptly with an interception at the Branford 30. Another drive went in reverse.
Finally, the defense provided the offensive spark, with junior Shakespeare Rodriguez returning an interception for a touchdown with a minute to go in the third quarter.
Now down just 18-14, there was life. LH, though, couldn’t keep Kelly at bay. The Branford QB snuck home from 1 yard out and converted the ensuing two-point try to refortify the lead to 26-14 with 11:12 to play.
Louis Ferri got LH back within range, rushing for a 4-yard TD with 6:33 left to cut the lead to 26-21.
The Trojans had a chance. They got the ball at midfield with 3:30 left. That’s when the Hornets sprung for the final sting, picking off a pass to seal the win.