Spartans, Bulldogs play Friday morning thriller at Jimmy Lee Stadium

It’s hard to accurately quantity the effort, or measure the heart, displayed by the WCA and Crosby football teams on Friday morning at Jimmy Lee Stadium. The teams played in the morning because there was no school in Waterbury due to the Veterans Day holiday weekend.

In terms of state playoffs, the Spartans had a slight chance while the Bulldogs were pretty much out. Don’t tell that to either team as they put on a game that had a ton of thrills and spills.

When it ended on an incomplete pass in the end zone on the game’s final play, WCA had eked out a 41-36 win over Crosby. The Spartans are 5-4 and 11th in the Class S state playoff standings. The Bulldogs are 3-6.

What happened in this game? Just about everything.

Two different players, one for each side, scored on multiple sides of the ball. One did so on defense and offense, while the other did it on offense and special teams. Three turnovers were returned for touchdowns. Three touchdowns went for 70 yards or more, and one player scored all of them. All of the above occurred, and the game almost ended on a Hail Mary with no time remaining.

First, the standouts. Crosby’s Jireh Rawlison returned two interceptions for touchdowns, and both were long runs. The first went for 78 yards and helped cut the Bulldog deficit to 22-16 by halftime. The second came near the end of the third quarter and went for an amazing 97 yards. That touchdown put Crosby within 29-22. After the Spartans again took a two-score lead, Rawlison ran down the middle of their defense, caught a Jeremiah Febus pass, and scampered 70 yards for a touchdown. That got the Bulldogs to within 35-28 in the fourth quarter. 

Rawlison later caught about a 50-yard pass from Febus to set up Jaedon Cobb’s two-yard touchdown run with just under six minutes left. When Febus found Rawlison for the two-point conversion, Crosby was down just five points, 41-36.

Rawlison almost capped off his day with a memorable answered prayer. The Bulldogs drove to the Spartan 36 on the final possession of the game. Febus avoided pressure and threw to the back of the end zone. There were two WCA defenders with Rawlison, but the ball somehow got to him. The ball hit off the receiver and fell to the turf. Rawlison laid on the turf, obviously upset that he didn’t catch the ball. He had no reason to feel down. Without his efforts, his team wouldn’t have been in position to win the game.

WCA’s standout was Jordan Rossi. Rossi caught touchdown passes of 22 and 23 yards from Ethan Blaize, he had a big fourth quarter interception, and he also ran a muffed punt into the end zone for a 13-yard score. Rossi’s 22-yard connection with Blaize was the game’s first touchdown. The 23-yard connection gave the Spartans a double-digit lead (29-16) for the second time in the game. Rossi’s scoop and score was the biggest play of all. It came in the fourth quarter with his team up one score. Rossi’s touchdown wound up being the game winner as it gave WCA a 41-28 lead. Crosby got to within 41-36, but couldn’t complete the comeback. What a game.