WESTON -- Hurting and hobbling for nearly three quarters, time was running out for Weston quarterback Tyler Hassett to keep his team in the state playoff hunt.
In the end, the senior's return to the Weston huddle provided just enough of a lift to rally the Trojans to yet another dramatic victory.
Hassett connected with Justin Schaffer for a 46-yard touchdown pass with 29 seconds left, sending the Trojans to a wild 20-15 win over visiting Stratford on homecoming on Saturday at Weston.
"It was kind of a game-time decision," Hassett said. "I was hurting in warm-ups and I kind of just played through the pain when I got in."
Hassett, who had missed most of the game through undisclosed injuries, shook off the pain to throw three touchdown passes in the second half.
Hassett took every snap in the final drive as Weston moved to 6-1 on the season.
"He just couldn't run at full speed today but that just shows what kind of kid Tyler is," Weston head coach Joe Lato said. "He wanted to get himself on the field today. That's Tyler; he went from crutches to out here today."
After a defensive battle kept the score low throughout, Weston went on a eight-play, 54-yard drive that took nearly five minutes off the clock in the fourth quarter. Hassett threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Thomas McGlone with 3:31 left to give the Trojans a 14-7 lead.
Stratford came right down the field and answered with time winding down. Quarterback Michael Cannata found Bryan Lesperance for passes of 34 and 7 yards to get into scoring range. Facing a third-and-10, Cannata scrambled for 12 yards and two plays later, Sam Breiner found the end zone from a yard out.
Instead of opting for an extra-point attempt to tie the score, Stratford head coach John Svatik gambled on a 2-point conversion and won when Noah Provo outraced the Weston defense on a sweep toward the sideline.
"We work on (the two-minute drill) every day," Svatik said. "I don't think its dumb luck; it was execution; our kids executed very well and did what we had to do. (For the 2-point conversion) I thought about it back and forth but we decided to go for the win. I thought with the time we are not going to get the ball."
Turnovers also doomed the Red Devils (2-5) in the second half, including a stretch of three in four possessions spanning the third and fourth quarters. Sam Panton's interception of Cannata with 8:08 left set up the Trojans with the chance to take the lead.
"We played hard and very well," Svatik said. "We got beat by a good football team. They are 6-1 and they are well-coached. There is no shame in that, but we could have finished. I think that's the big thing."
Despite escaping with the win, the Trojans will likely need a better effort, and a healthier Hassett, when they get a visit from undefeated Masuk next Saturday. The defending South-West Conference champions have not missed a beat since losing star quarterback Casey Cochran to graduation.
"We have to practice hard, play hard," Lato said. "They are a great program. Coach (John) Murphy is one of the best coaches in the state. What he's done up there is amazing. He can go from Casey Cochran and be just as good. We'll be ready to go."
Ryan Lacey is a freelance writer
WESTON 20, STRATFORD 15
STRATFORD 7 0 0 8--15
WESTON 0 0 7 13--20
S--Noah Provo 7 pass Michael Cannata (Kyle Kodnia kick)
W--Thomas McGlone 8 pass Hassett (Carroll kick)
S--Sam Breiner 1 run Cannata (Provo run)
W--Schaffer 46 pass Hassett (2-pt failed)
Records: Stratford 2-5; Weston 6-1.