Killingly - The way coach Mike Ellis looks at it, the Waterford Lancers can go in one of two directions after a disheartening defeat Friday night.
"It's going to be interesting for them," Ellis said. "They've got to make a choice right now. What are they going to do? Are they going to tank it and (say) we can't win. Or are they going to decide we've gotten a lot better than where we were a week ago and we've got to continue to go in the right direction and if we do that we're going to be okay."
Waterford watched Killingly scored two touchdowns in the final three minutes, 39 seconds, to turn a potential road win into a tough 28-21 Eastern Connecticut Conference Medium Division loss.
Freshman quarterback Kyle Derosier orchestrated the comeback, throwing two touchdowns passes to senior Travis Zurowski, including the game-winner from eight yards out with 26 seconds remaining.
The Redmen (2-0, 1-0) had to put the game in the inexperienced hands of Derosier, who went 10-for-19 for 130 yards with an interception, because leading rusher Tyler Stucke was never the same after suffering a right ankle injury in the second quarter.
"He made some great reads and great throws and we had some great catches," Killingly coach Chad Neal said. "I'm just in awe of our kids right now."
Waterford's mistakes piled up in the fourth quarter.
Clinging to a 21-20 lead, the Lancers (0-2, 0-1) took over on their own 34-yard line after recovering the onsides kick. But they couldn't produce a first down. On fourth down, the snap sailed far over punter Spencer Hoagland's head. He raced back and fell on the loose ball.
Killingly took over on the Waterford 12 with 2:13 remaining before a holding call pushed the ball back to the 26 on first down. The Lancers nearly held their ground, but Derosier hit Zurowski for 19 yards and the pair hooked up again on fourth down from the 8 for the game-winner.
"Our secondary didn't play well," Ellis said. "They couldn't run the ball. All they could do was pass and we couldn't stop the pass."
Waterford did show improvement from its opening week loss. Joe Gustafson scored the first of his two touchdowns, powering in from five yards out for a 7-0 lead on his team's first possession that covered 74 yards on 11 plays.
The Redmen capitalized on a Waterford fumble to score their first touchdown, as Stucke reached the end zone from one yard out.
A trick play handed Killingly a 14-7 lead that it took into halftime. Senior Nick Hewitt came around on a reverse and threw the ball to a wide open Troy Waterman who finished off the 54-yard touchdown play.
With Stucke hobbled, the Redmen bogged down in the third quarter.
Meanwhile, Waterford took advantage of good field position to score touchdowns on two straight possessions.
Quarterback Seth Hoagland, who rushed for 60 of his 70 yards in the second half, used his legs to propel the attack. His one-yard sneak capped a 23-yard drive, tying the score at 14 early in the fourth quarter. Gustafson's 17-yard run gave the Lancers their first lead, 21-14, with 7:02 left.
Then Derosier worked his magic.