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Nov. 23: Centaurs finish the season in Killingly on Thanksgiving Day

Win or lose – it’s still fun.

Woodstock Academy traveled to Killingly for its annual Thanksgiving Day game.

“It was a great atmosphere and the weather was beautiful so it was an enjoyable experience,” Centaurs coach Sean Saucier said. “There were a lot of people here. I really enjoy it for the kids, the environment when we were pulling up and seeing the tailgates. You don’t see this many people all season so in that aspect it was a fun day.”

Woodstock Academy senior Lucas Theriaque agreed.

“It felt great,” Theriaque said with a smile. “All the people, the energy, our team, it’s an awesome feeling and there is nothing like it.”

Of course, it would also be nice to win.

Unfortunately, against Class L state playoff-bound Killingly, that’s a tall order.

Killingly broke open a two-touchdown game in the second half when it scored in its first three possessions and posted a 42-15 victory.

“I told them at halftime, that we checked the first-half box in terms of competing and executing, but we’ve struggled all year to check that second half box,” Saucier said.

The Centaurs won the toss but were stopped on downs and forced to punt.

Killingly also was unable to move the ball on its first possession but on a fourth down and four yards elected to go for the first down on their own 37-yard line.

The gamble did not pay off for Killingly coach Chad Neal as the Centaurs stopped senior running back Soren Rief two yards shy of the marker.

The Killingly defense was up to the task, however, as it forced Woodstock Academy into another three-and-out without gaining a yard. Senior punter Jacob Lizotte gave the Centaurs a win in the battle of field position as his punt pinned Killingly back to its own 7.

Killingly wouldn’t stay there long.

Everton Brown took the ball down the right side for 14 yards to get Killingly out of the shadow of its own goalposts.

Rief took over from there.

The senior back carried the ball on the next 10 plays for Killingly and finally took it into the end zone from 11-yards out.

“He’s a tough kid,” Theriaque said of the Killingly running back.

Rief had gained 2,086 yards this season coming into the Thanksgiving contest.

“You just have to get low. He’s easy to tackle, you just have to get low on him,” Lizotte added.

Killingly tried to take Woodstock Academy off guard with an on-side kick following the touchdown.

The Centaurs, however, came up with the football on their own 49.

Quarterback Teddy Richardson (8-for-20 passing, 69 yards) found Theriaque for the Centaurs first first-down of the game with a 17-yard pass.

Gabe Luperon-Flecha then had three consecutive carries that netted 12 yards down to the Killingly 22.

Another Richardson to Theriaque 10-yard pass on the first play of the second quarter moved the ball to the Killingly 12 and one play later, Woodstock Academy dipped into its bag of tricks.

“We’ve been waiting to pull out the double pass for a couple of weeks and it worked perfectly,” Theriaque said.

Luperon-Flecha got the ball from Richardson, looked down field and saw Theriaque in the end zone.

There was no one else around the Centaur receiver.

“Everyone bit on the run play. Everybody on the team sold it well and I’ve never been that open in the end zone. It was just a perfectly executed play,” Theriaque, who finished with 4 catches for 46 yards, said.

Killingly answered quickly.

It put together a 12-play drive, 11 of which were on the ground with Rief bulling his way in from a yard out.

Killingly got the ball back at midfield after its defense again stepped up and stopped the Centaurs in three downs.

But Killingly was its own worst enemy as two holding calls put it in a fourth-and-20 dilemma.

The play of the game followed as sophomore quarterback Quinn Sumner found tight end Hunter Allard down the left sideline for a 32-yard gain to the Woodstock Academy 14.

“You have to cover the tight end against Killingly. They ran a deep flip pass and executed. That one hurt,” Saucier said.

Two Rief runs later produced another Killingly touchdown and a 22-8 lead for the hosts going into the locker room.

Rief finished with 276 yards but he had to work for them as he did so in 46 carries for a 6-yard per carry average.

That was below his average of 7.3 this season.

“He will wear you down and that, ultimately, is what happened. There were no huge breakaways. How many times have we seen him break one for 50 yards against some of the top teams in conference so in that aspect, I think we do that well. Year after year, Killingly typically has a strong runner and we, typically, make it difficult for them,” Saucier said.

Rief’s longest carry was 21 yards which came on a hook-and-ladder play in the second half.

His second quarter touchdown, however, gave Killingly the momentum going into the second half.

It quickly elevated that lead on its first possession of the second half when Rief completed an eight-play drive with a 5-yard touchdown run.

Woodstock Academy went three-and-out and Killingly put together another 12-play drive on the back of Rief who touched it on every play including a 1-yard dive for the score.

Killingly finished off its scoring with a 12-yard run by Hayden Allard early in the fourth quarter.

“It just comes down to the fact that we don’t have a lot of subs, don’t have a lot of kids, and get tired. We made it our priority to come out hot in the second half and just gave it our all. The outcome wasn’t in our favor, but we still had fun out there,” Theriaque said.

The Centaurs final touchdown drive of the season came in the fourth quarter with Richardson finding Lizotte for a 23-yard pass play, Theriaque for 13 yards and then David Bunning (5 carries, 38 yards) rushed for 27 to the Killingly 7 where Eric Mathewson would take it in from.

The Centaurs finished with only 145 yards in offense.

“Their inside blitz pressure caught us by surprise. It was just tough to string drives together,” Saucier said.

It was the final game for the 12 Woodstock Academy seniors.

“I love playing,” Theriaque said. “It’s very sad that this was my last year, I’ve played all four years. But I can’t ask for a better last game, I went out there and had so much fun. I’m just thankful for my team and my coaches, this was great.”

The Centaurs finished the season with a 3-7 record.

“It was a great group of kids and an enjoyable season up to the last second. They were enjoyable to be around, worked hard, bought into what we were doing. I’m going to miss the seniors for sure but they were a lot of fun to be around and coach,” Saucier said.

Several members of the team were named Eastern Connecticut Conference All-Stars earlier in the week.

Lizotte (linebacker), Theriaque (wide receiver), Henry Wotton (kicker) and Sam Clark (tight end) were selected as ECC Division I football All-Stars.

Dylan Phillips (linebacker) and Richardson (quarterback) were honorable mention selections.

Hunter Larson is the team’s ECC Scholar-Athlete with Mathewson being selected as the team’s ECC Sportsmanship Award recipient.