Fairfield County pinned 23 unanswered points on New Haven County to claim a 23-13 victory in the 16th annual Hall of Fame Classic All-Star Football Game on Saturday.
Bunnell’s J.J. Bivona won defensive MVP honors for Fairfield, returning an interception 50 yards for a touchdown to put his squad ahead for good, 16-13.
Fairfield trailed 13-0 early in the third quarter, but Bivona’s return on the last play of the period staked the All-Stars to a lead they would not relinquish in front of 1,849 fans at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven.
Bivona’s high-school teammate at Bunnell, Jawad Chisholm, caught a pair of touchdown passes to win offensive MVP honors for Fairfield County. Matt Paola of Pomperaug added a field goal to account for the Fairfield County scoring.
Kyle Pulek of Cheshire kicked two field goals for New Haven County (29, 42 yards) to capture offensive MVP honors for his squad.
Amity’s Tyler Vallie tossed a one-yard score to Sheehan’s Brodie Corless for the lone New Haven touchdown.
Ansonia’s Jake LaRovera, who blocked a punt and had two tackles for losses, was named the New Haven County MVP.
“We came out strong in the first half,” LaRovera said. “They must’ve made some adjustments at halftime.”
LaRovera, along with Shelton High linebacker Joe Ortoli, keyed a New Haven County defense that limited Fairfield to 25 carries for 50 yards. But, the explosive plays proved to be the difference.
“They had the big plays,” said Ortoli, who will play at Norwich University (Vt.) in the fall.
Fairfield County won for the second year in a row and improved its record to 6-10 in the series that began in 1997.
New Haven grabbed a 10-0 halftime lead on the strength of Pulek’s 29-yard field goal to cap off its opening drive and Vallie’s one-yard strike with 8:13 left to play in the second quarter.
Taking the opening kickoff of the second half, New Haven rolled 55 yards in 11 plays to set up a fourth-and-goal from the Fairfield 8-yard line.
Quarterback Michael Ecke of Cheshire then found Jonathan Law’s Conner Falaguerra for a touchdown, but the play was wiped out due to a holding call.
Pulek trotted out and split the uprights on a 42-yard field goal, pushing New Haven’s lead to 13-0.
Dylan Moye of Westhill returned the ensuing kickoff 72 yards down inside the New Haven 13, but Fairfield advanced the ball just three yards on a Damien Vega scramble.
Paola booted a 27-yard field goal, narrowing Fairfield County’s gap to 13-3.
Barry Boderick of Stamford intercepted Vallie on the next New Haven drive, setting up Fairfield County at the New Haven 34. Vega, of Brien McMahon, then had a pass picked off by Wilby’s Jay’Len Mahan in the end zone. Mahan returned it 108 yards for a touchdown, but the play was nullified by a defensive pass interference call.
Three plays later, Vega rolled to his right and hit Chisholm in the end zone.
Paola’s extra point made it 13-10 with 1:39 left in the third quarter.