BELMONT – Rotating two quarterbacks during a full game can be tricky, as sometimes a hot hand can get cold on the bench.
But for Lawrence Academy in Saturday’s Independent School League opener at Belmont Hill, the Spartans found success with the system, and it paid off in a 22-21 victory in double overtime.
Sophomore Ryan Puglisi took a run down the right side for the game-winning two-point conversion after fellow outfield Luke Reynolds played the first overtime. It was a classic finish in the first game for both teams since 2019.
“Finally, we have some depth here at Lawrence Academy, and today they saw a lot of kids play,” said Lawrence coach Jason Swepson. “The quarterback position in our system is no different. So both of them are going to play all year long. ”
Belmont Hill rallied from a 14-7 deficit to tie it with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter after quarterback Chris Milmoe hit AJ Muse for a 45-yard touchdown.
That sent the game into overtime, but it was far from over. The ISL uses college overtime rules, with each team starting from the other’s 25-yard line. But neither Lawrence nor Belmont Hill were able to move the ball in the first extra frame, as each team missed a field goal.
In the second overtime, Belmont Hill scored first when Milmoe, who completed 19 of 30 passes for 239 yards and three touchdowns, hit Sean Egan for a 17-yard touchdown. Matthew Martines ripped off the PAT, and Belmont Hill had the 21-14 lead, and apparently all the momentum.
But since he had the whole game, Lawrence leaned on senior running back Fenix Figueroa in the second overtime. He ran three times, the first for 17 yards, the second for 4 more, and the last for a 4-yard touchdown. For the game, the 5-foot-11, 250-pound had 132 yards on 22 carries.
Instead of going for the draw, Swepson went for the win. Puglisi went below center, then faked a pass to Figueroa. The quarterback rolled to his right and, instead of throwing it at a receiver, edged past a Belmont Hill defender to the pylon for the game-winning two-point conversion.
“Win the game,” Puglisi said of his overtime thinking. “It was that simple. We hadn’t been here in two years. Coming here and winning this as a team was a blessing I’ll never forget. Now all I hope is next week. ”
“It’s been too long,” Reynolds said of the long break. “But it was a lot of fun coming here with the team.”
The offenses took a while to start. Belmont Hill scored first on a 55-yard strike from Milmoe to Charlie Walsh in the first quarter. Lawrence responded when Puglisi found Evan Thompson on a 7-yard touchdown at the same spot where Puglisi later ran on the double.
Reynolds put Lawrence ahead in the third quarter when he hit a tough 10-yard touchdown run to give his team a 14-7 lead. Belmont fought back, but it wasn’t enough to stop the visitors late.