Game Most Valuable Player Jake Roberts threw a pair of touchdown passes and ran for another as the No. 4 ranked Shelton Gaels rolled past Derby, 62-6, before about 600 Thursday in the annual Thanksgiving Day clash between the two schools at Finn Stadium.
The Gaels finish their regular season with a 10-0 mark, and unofficially secured the top seed and a home game for Tuesday’s CIAC Class LL quarterfinals. Shelton, playing in the postseason for the fifth-straight season, is expected to host No. 8 seed New Canaan (8-2) in a 6:30 p.m. start at Finn.
Shelton’s 56-point margin of victory Thursday was the most lopsided ever in the 108-game series, and the game was played in front of one of the smallest Shelton-Derby crowds ever. The entire second half was played under the CIAC’s running clock rule.
The Gaels have won 16 straight over the Red Raiders (4-6), and 19 of the last 20. Overall, Shelton now leads the series 58-43-7.
Needing a victory to secure the top seed, Shelton took it to Derby right from the start, leaving the Red Raiders no hope of pulling off an upset.
The Gaels took the opening kickoff and needed just four plays for Roberts to score on a one-yard keeper behind the blocking of Jake Breton (guard), Ray Weiner (guard), Kyle Corby (center), Isaiah DeLoatch (tackle), David Youngquist (tackle) and David Niski (tight end).
Nick Andrade made his first of six PATs, with Corby snapping and Tyler Pjatak securing the hold for a 7-0 lead two minutes into the game.
A three-and-out for Derby set up a two-play Shelton drive capped by a two-yard Georgio Ghazal touchdown run.
Roberts threw TD passes covering 20 and 49 yards to fellow senior Brian Berritto on Shelton’s next two possessions. The second scoring pass came a minute into the second quarter and was the last series the offensive starters played.
Paul Ferrigno returned a punt 57 yards for a touchdown and David Yakowicz recorded a pick-six to make it a 48-0 Shelton lead at halftime.
“We talked to the kids all week about coming out and taking it to them,” said Shelton Coach Jeff Roy. “We came out like that today and were able to get on them early.”
Shelton exclusively played reserves the second half.
Sophomores Timothy Santos and Mike Monaco each recorded a second half touchdown run for the Gaels. Freshman Christiano Rosa made both PATs.
Derby’s touchdown came with about eight minutes left in the game on a 61-yard Zerion Montgomery run.
Derby managed just one first down against Shelton’s starting defense. Highlights on defense included the Yakowicz pick-six, Breton and Ray Weiner sacks, and two tackles for a loss by Michael Lockavitch.
“We’re playing our best football right now,” said Roy. “We’re healthy and like I said last week, we’re hitting on all cylinders and we’re playing very well on both sides of the ball. We just have to continue to do that throughout the playoffs.”
Shelton draws a tough first round match-up in New Canaan. While the Rams are the only Class LL team with two losses, they have won five in a row including a 17-14 victory over No. 1 ranked and previously unbeaten Darien on Thanksgiving.
Gael notes: Shelton is 29-6-1 against Derby over the last 36 meetings…Shelton’s average margin of victory over Derby the last six years is more than 44 points (319 points to Derby’s 49)…Thursday’s game MVP award was Roberts’ second.