AUGUSTA — Home at last, the Cony football team couldn’t have picked a much better way to break in its new digs.

Pressed into service at quarterback in place of injured Davyn Flynn, Dom Napolitano threw a pair of second-half touchdown passes to Casey Mills, leading the Rams to a 28-14 victory over Lawrence in a Class B North matchup, and the inaugural game on Cony’s new Fuller Field.

Resilience has been a strength of the Rams (4-2) all season, who have had to play most of their season with their backup quarterback Flynn. And Saturday’s game was the biggest test of that resilience yet.

“The thing about Cony is we’re always ‘next guy’ mentality,” said Mills, who caught four passes for 88 yards, all after halftime. “We’re ready for anything. Take out our second-string quarterback, we’ll still be here.”

Parker Higgins ran for 225 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries, but Lawrence (3-3) felt the effects of attrition as well. Fullback Matt Trombley, the co-anchor of the Bulldogs’ formidable ground attack, was out, and Lawrence also had to go to a backup quarterback when Andrew Trombley, already dealing with a hurt shoulder, was knocked out of the game on a hit shortly before halftime. Freshman Michael Hamlin played the rest of the way under center.

“He didn’t practice much this week, so we were taking some chances having him out there with his throwing arm,” Lawrence coach John Hersom said. “But we thought maybe he could give us that spark that we needed on offense, being a senior captain. And I think we were OK execution-wise in the first half, but kind of the wheels fell off in the second half with our defense.”

Cony’s Dominick Napolitano, left, catches a pass as Lawrence’s Cade Scott plays defense on the new turf field during a football game Saturday on Fuller Field in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Cony’s offense seemed to be dealt a crippling blow when Flynn hurt his wrist on a run midway through the second quarter. After trying Sam Flannery and Napolitano in Flynn’s place, the Rams, locked in a 7-7 tie with the Bulldogs, stuck with Napolitano to guide the offense in the second half.

“I didn’t have much time to think about it,” Napolitano said.

Right away, the decision began paying off. On Cony’s first possession, he completed passes to Mills and Ashton Dennett for 20 and 33 yards, respectively, before Elijah Klaiber (25 carries, 133 yards) finished the 80-yard drive with a 10-yard run for a 14-7 lead with 3:59 left in the third. The Rams went 88 yards in 16 plays on the next possession, with Napolitano finding Mills on a post for a 20-yard touchdown pass and 20-7 lead with 7:16 to play.

It was suspenseful. Mills was open, but the ball hit off his hands before he plucked it back out of the air for a catch.

“Oh my God. It was scary, let me tell you,” Mills said. “It was in the air, and I just had laser focus. I’m like ‘You know what, if I don’t catch this ball, I’m going to be in a terrible mood for the rest of the night.'”

“I thought it hit off his facemask or something,” Napolitano said. “But he ended up catching it, and that’s what we needed.”

Lawrence responded on its next series, with Higgins running for 8, 14 and finally 22 yards for a touchdown that made it 20-14 and kept the Bulldogs alive with five minutes to go.

Philanthropist Robert Fuller waves to the crowd during the opening ceremony before a football game between Cony and Lawrence on Saturday on Fuller Field in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“Parker’s been that way for us all season,” Hersom said. “He does carry the load for us quite often. We were concerned that we would have some difficulty with their defense, but for the most part we were able to block them and get Parker through quite a few times. He’s just a hard guy to bring down because he’s so strong.”

The pressure was back on Cony, but the Rams were ready. Napolitano found Derek Totten for 32 yards into Bulldog territory, and on fourth-and-7 from the Lawrence 22, he found Mills in stride down the left side for the clinching touchdown with 1:22 to play.

“I had overthrown a couple of balls before that, so I just had to not put as much power on it and let my receiver make a play on it,” Napolitano said. “I like the play call, aggressive rather than running the ball and potentially turning it over and giving them a chance.”

Cony coach B.L. Lippert said Napolitano, who finished 8-for-14 for 131 yards, was “unbelievable.”

“We talked to Dom at halftime and said ‘You’re going to have to make some throws and read the coverage a little bit,'” Lippert said. “We gave him maybe a little tip on who to throw to, but a couple of times, like on the post to Casey down the middle, he read that out. … He played great. I can’t ask for more.”

The teams battled to a halftime tie after Higgins broke a 44-yard touchdown run with 5:20 to go in the first quarter and Flynn (11 carries, 60 yards) ran in from 5 yards out with 2:41 left in the quarter.

“When (Flynn) went out, I was like ‘Uh oh, we’re going to be pretty one-dimensional now,'” Lippert said. “In my wildest dreams, I couldn’t have expected (Napolitano) to play like that.”

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.