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Norwalk 8th-Graders Hold On To Top New Canaan

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk's Spencer Jacobsen saw New Canaan Red's Adam Ruth heading toward the end zone in the final play of Saturday's Fairfield County Football League eighth-grade game at Dunning Stadium. "I just wanted to stop him,'' Jacobsen said. "I thought he was going to go."

Instead, Jacobsen shoved Ruth out of bounds at the 2-yard line as time expired. His hustle preserved the 21-20 win for the Grizzlies and handed the New Canaan Red its first loss of the season. Norwalk (3-1-1) tied New Canaan Black the previous week. The New Canaan teams have shared the league championship each of the past four seasons and have compiled a 103-3-2 record in the past six seasons.

Jacobsen's hustle provided a thrilling finish to a wild game that featured big plays, surprising swings and a dramatic conclusion. New Canaan Red (5-1) started its final drive on its own 12-yard line with 1:10 left. After four plays and a face mask penalty, New Canaan reached the Norwalk 46-yard line. With 7.9 seconds remaining, Kyle Smith took a lateral from Justin Clark and, under heavy pressure, lofted the ball toward Ruth. A Norwalk player deflected the pass, but Ruth grabbed it and raced down the sideline. Jacobsen, hustling across the field, shoved Ruth out a step from the end zone.

Norwalk had taken the lead with 4:30 left when quarterback Tyler McMillian threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Colby Scovel. The play came on a 4th-and-14 with Scovel getting a step on the defender and making a brilliant catch just short of the end zone. He ran in easily. Michael Denke kicked his second conversion of the day for the go-ahead point. "It's something we've had trouble with in practice,'' coach Chris Santopietro said of the touchdown pass. "This time it worked. Tyler threw a perfect pass."

Norwalk's first offensive series lost 24 yards, and New Canaan scored on its first offensive series. The Grizzlies regrouped behind Jacobsen (16 carries for 87 yards), who brought Norwalk life with a 56-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter. McMillian and Scovel hooked up on an 18-yard PAT after a penalty on Jacobsen's run.

Terrance Bates scored Norwalk's second touchdown on a 29-yard run with 3:50 left in the second quarter. Norwalk led 14-6 before New Canaan answered with consecutive scores. New Canaan went ahead on Smith's 7-yard run with 8:08 left to play. The kick for the PAT failed.

Norwalk answered with its game-winning drive. Bates had a 54-yard run on the final drive to get Norwalk out of a deep hole and bring the ball into New Canaan territory. He finished with three carries for 84 yards. "You can't coach speed, and he has a lot of it," Santopietro said. "He's an unbelievable athlete and a good kid."

The Grizzlies defense came up big, forcing a fumble by New Canaan on the Norwalk 5-yard line in the third quarter. Norwalk had two great chances at interceptions that could have ended New Canaan's final drive a few plays earlier. Fortunately for the Grizzlies, the speedy Jacobsen delivered the game-saving tackle.

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