New London 51, Greenwich 33
New London 13 12 14 12 – 51
Greenwich 7 19 0 7 – 33
NL – Khaleed Fields 51 pass from Robert Key (Jevon Clarke kick)
G – Shane Nastahowksi 9 pass from Jose Melo (Jesse Adelberg kick)
NL – Kyle McKinnon 11 run (kick failed)
G – Alex McMurray 6 run (Adelberg kick)
NL – Fields 30 pass from Key (run failed)
G – Dan Claroni 13 run (run failed)
NL – McKinnon 68 run (kick failed)
G – Ryan Kelly 105 interception return (run failed)
NL – Doug Henton 45 interception return (Clarke kick)
NL – McKinnon 25 run (Clarke kick)
NL – Jevon Elmore 14 pass from Key (PAT failed)
NL – Elmore 34 interception return (kick failed)
G – Chris Daly 1 run (Adelberg kick)
UConn and Boston College are just two of the schools that have shown interest in New London all-state running back Kyle McKinnon.
Once other programs catch wind of Friday night’s highlight packages, the 6-foot, 200-pound senior playmaker can surely expect a little added attention from recruiters.
McKinnon was a force to be reckoned with, and so were the Whalers, who overcame a 2 ½-hour bus ride and a one-point halftime deficit en route to a 51-33 victory over Greenwich in a much-anticipated non-league matchup that was chock full of big plays and huge momentum swings.
McKinnon was the star on this nearly three-hour night at Cardinal Stadium as he totaled 285 yards from scrimmage, including 28 carries for 236 yards and three touchdowns.
Of course, he had plenty of help.
The Whalers (2-0) amassed well over 500 yards of offense and forced seven turnovers, including five interceptions – two of which were returned for touchdowns in the second half.
Trailing 26-25 at the intermission after a jaw-dropping 105-yard interception return by Greenwich’s Ryan Kelly with just 15 seconds left in the second quarter, New London proceeded to score 26 consecutive second-half points to pull away.
“It was a long ride down here and it feels really good to go back home with a win,” said McKinnon, who had touchdown runs of 11, 68 and 25 yards. “Our O-line blocked very well, our passing game was clicking and our defense made a ton of big plays.”
After a wild, back-and-forth first half, New London regained the lead on a 45-yard interception return by Doug Henton, who jumped a bubble screen route and raced into the end zone on the fourth play of the third quarter.
Greenwich (2-1), which generated 233 yards in the first half, came right back on a 64-yard pass play from sophomore quarterback Jose Melo to senior Joel Arroyo, who was dragged down on the 1-yard line.
The touchdown-saving tackle by Khaleed Fields loomed even larger when the Cardinals fumbled the ball into the end zone on the next play and recovered by New London’s Lamont waites for a touchback.
“That really changed the momentum,” Greenwich head coach Rich Albonizio said. “It was a shootout with some big plays all-around, but we made too many mistakes. They have a really fast and talented team, and that (McKinnon) is a heck of a player.”
Senior quarterback Robert Key finished 17 of 32 for 306 yards and two touchdowns – with the back-breaking score with 7:22 remaining on a 14-yard strike to Jevon Elmore to make it 51-26.
Senior Shane Nastahowski (15 carries, 100 yards) had another impressive game on both sides of the ball for the Cardinals, who finally got something going in the second half behind sophomore fourth-string quarterback James-Bubba Harris before Chris Daly plunged into the end zone for the final points of the night with 5:06 left.
The Cardinals tried an onside kick, but it was recovered by the Whalers. They turned to McKinnon – who else? – to seal the victory.
Greenwich must recover quickly as an FCIAC showdown against 2-0 Trumbull is on the horizon Thursday at 6 p.m.