Photo: Ninety-nine yards later: Belmont High senior Chris Cogliano scores the winning touchdown with less than 20 seconds remaining in the game as Belmont drives the length of the field to beat Winchester, 32-30.
Down by 4 with 2:49 remaining in the contest, Belmont High School’s offense took the field facing the most daunting of asks: drive the length of the football field, 99 yards, to win the game. At the helm for the Marauders’ was junior QB Jayden Arno who, when he came on the field, wasn’t thinking about 100 yards he needed to win it.
“Honestly, on the sideline, all what we were trying to do is get to the 10 yard line to give us some room,” he said.
Arno had been finding his experienced receiver corps throughout the game under the Friday Night Lights at Harris Field. And one of them, senior Chris Cogliano, would prove to be the perfect partnership in the final two minutes.
After an eight-yard carry by junior RB Adrien Gurung gave Arno that breathing room he was hoping for, the two-year starter came out winging it, finding Cogliano on the slant to the 30. But a sack and two incomplete passes had the Marauders facing a fourth down and 10 from the 30 with 54 seconds remaining. Once again. Arno found Cogliano over the middle to the 46 yard line. On second and 10 from the 46, Arno was flushed from the pocket and took off down the left side and scooted to the 33 yard line with 32 seconds remaining.
On the next play, Arno found Cogliano on the right sideline in between two defenders. The senior evaded the inside defender and pushed the deep safety to the side before tip-toeing into the end zone with 15 seconds remaining. The point after touchdown was blocked leaving Winchester only two down but with not many options remaining.
Yet a short kickoff and a strong run back set up Winchester’s outstanding kicker Kieran Corr with a do-able 44 yard attempt with 4 seconds remaining. But while it had the distance, Corr’s kick got caught up in the swirling wind and drifted left.
“That was pretty special because we came together during that drive; the line, receivers, blockers. We didn’t get down on ourselves when they scored twice [in a minute]. We had a great week of practice and knew we had it in us to win the game,” said Arno, who finished the game going 15 for 25 and 263 yards through the air.
After a quick three and out to start the game, Belmont’s defense was to stop Winchester in the red zone where Corr kicked a field goal for an early 3-0 lead. Belmont would finally strike midway in the second after a long drive Arno dove in from the one to give the Marauders a 7-3 lead.
Head coach Brian McCray’s team stands at 2-3 with a visit to Lexington (2-3) under the lights on Friday, Oct. 14 at 6 p.m.
Winchester would benefit from a pass interference and a hitting a defenseless player to bring the ball to the Belmont 2 where QB/RB Jack Centurelli plunged two yards on the right side for the TD and the lead, 10-7 with three minutes remaining. Belmont could come right back as Arno found Cogliano and senior WR Ben Williams on passes to push the ball to the one where Arno would crash through with one minute remaining in the half for the 14-10 lead.
Belmont would travel through the air on its first drive of the second, calumniating four minutes into the half with an Arno to junior WR Brian Logan along the back of the end zone. Winchester would creep closer with its own drive to cut the lead to 20-16 on Centurelli’s second rushing TD with two minutes remaining in the third.
In the first drive of the fourth quarter, Arno would find Logan on a third and long taking the ball from Belmont’s 32 to Winchester’s 32 then completing a 20 yard completion to Logan before Gurung took the ball then waited, and waited … and waited before exploding up the middle for a 13 yard TD and a 26-16 lead. With nine minutes left, it appeared Belmont would cruise to its second win when Winchester quickly marched down the field when Centurelli found junior Ryan Doucette for the touchdown with 8:03 on the clock and the score 26-23.
Winchester’s kicker Corr was an important factor in getting the ball right back by sending a towering kick with a spin that simply bounced off the Belmont returner and was recovered on the Belmont 12. Centurelli found Jack Costello in the back of the end zone and within 62 seconds, a safe looking lead with now a four point deficit, 30-26, with 7:01 to play.
While Belmont was able to convert one fourth down play, they lost the ball on downs with 4:09 left. But Belmont’s defense stood tall and forced Winchester to punt with under three minutes to play. Then Corr sent a perfect punt that died on the one yard line.
And that’s when the Marauders’ produced the drive of the game.
“This does a lot for team confidence with the comeback,” said Arno. “It will definitely give us a boost of confidence going on the road next week.”