Last-second touchdown propels Classical past Winthrop

LYNN – On a night that was better suited for swimming than football, Lynn Classical and Winthrop found themselves in a barnburner at Manning Field.A game that was a defensive struggle for most of the evening came down to one play with 1.8 seconds left as Rams tailback Cam Smith swept over left end for a touchdown and Stephan Bhulasar’s extra point gave Classical a dramatic 7-6 win over the Vikings.Click here for a photo gallery of last night’s game”The kids kept coming and kept believing. And they got it done,” Classical coach Tim Phelps said. “That’s a program win right there.”After struggling to move the ball all game long, the Rams (2-1) failed to convert on a 17-play drive in the third quarter but found themselves with a chance to win the game when they got the ball back with 2:53 to go.”We got that long drive, and even though we didn’t score, the kids started believing,” Phelps said. “And they kept coming.”Starting at its 29, Classical immediately went backwards thanks to a holding penalty. But on second-and-20, Keshaun Avery hit Smith out of the backfield for a 19-yard gain. The Vikings (1-2) were whistled for a roughing-the-passer penalty that tacked on 15 more and an automatic first down.”We just killed ourself with penalties,” Winthrop coach Sean Driscoll said. “And that’s a sign of an undisciplined football team. And that’s on me as a coach.”The penalty moved the ball to the Viking 47. Two plays later, Avery threw to Casey Johnson for a six-yard gain on third and four to keep the drive going.”Keshaun is a player and a leader and we’re just cracking the surface with him,” Phelps said.The Vikings continued to be Classical’s best friend when another personal-foul penalty was called moments later, moving the ball to the 20.Classical then dodged a huge bullet when Chris Beranger saw a game-clinching interception slip through his fingers at the five with a minute remaining.A completion to fullback Jaquan Huston gained four yards, but kept the clock running before an incompletion on third down stopped it with 14 seconds left.The fourth-down play was a strike from Avery to Johnson on an in route to the Viking three with eight seconds to go. A spike on the next play stopped the clock with 1.8 seconds left, leaving Classical one play to score.The choice was simple as Avery handed to Smith, who walked around left end to pay dirt. Bhulasar’s extra point followed to spark a wild celebration along the press box side of the field.”We gave the ball to our best player and he came through,” Phelps said.The finish was in stark contrast to the opening minutes, where neither team could get anything going in a driving rainstorm.The Rams moved to midfield on the game’s opening possession, but Smith was hit and Winthrop’s Nick Doonan recovered at the 50.Winthrop failed to convert on the ensuing possession as the teams played through a scoreless first quarter.A 29-yard return of a punt by Beranger on the final play of the opening period gave the Vikings a short field, and they took full advantage.A 17-yard Beranger jaunt, part of his 23-carry, 159-yard performance in miserable conditions, got the Vikings to the 12. Two plays later, Beranger carried defenders into the end zone on an eight-yard run that made it 6-0.”That was our plan. To ride our horse,” Driscoll said.The extra point would be missed as Matt Moore bobbled the snap and Will Milano’s kick sailed wide to the right. The miscue proved to be pivotal.Classical drove back down the field on the next possession, aided by a personal-foul penalty, reaching the Viking 32 before being turned aside on downs as the score stayed 6-0 into halftime.Winthrop got the ball to begin the second half and Beranger picked up where he left off in the first. A 34-yard gain on the first snap of the third quarter put the ball at the Rams’ 28.Three plays later, Beranger reached the six on a first-down carry, but an illegal blocking call cost the Vikings 15 yards. A sack of Milano drove Winthrop further back a

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