Shelton High’s SCC football game with Foran High in Milford was going pretty much as advertised, with each team scoring a touchdown in trademark style on Friday night.
Coach Jeff Roy’s Gaels took the opening kickoff and drove 69 yards in nine plays to take a 7-0 lead on Mark Piccirillo’s 10-yard run and Joe Zoppi’s PAT.
Coach Jeff Bevino’s Lions went to the air, and three completed passes moved the chains three times before Nick Weissauer scored on a 2-yard run. Sam Olsson’s PAT tied the game at 7 with 5:58 still remaining in the first period.
“We had to switch up our coverage,” Roy said after Shelton came home unbeaten at 4-0 with a 35-13 victory over the 2-2 Lions. “They were eating us up in man coverage, so we went to zone, and then mixed things up from there series-to-series.
“Part of our game plan was to control the football. We were bigger and able to wear them down. That is a talented team that can score points, so we needed to keep them off the field.”
While Peter Hoff, Kyle Drost and Wadson Petithomme intercepted passes to slow the high-flying attack, Piccirillo ran for 88 yards and three touchdowns behind the blocking of Trevor Searles at center, Jacob Grosso and Craig Melvin at guard and Matt Zelanin and Chris Pawlowski at tackle.
“We make blocks, they make plays,” Searles said succinctly when asked of the O-line’s impact. “We’re all brothers, all equals. Communication was the key tonight.”
Foran put up a goal-line stand to stop Shelton at its 6-yard line on the Gaels’ second possession.
Lion quarterback Jake Kasuba, who threw for 287 yards, brought his team down to the Gaels’ 30, where on first down Hoff perfectly read a slant pass and brought it back from the 22 to the 37-yard line.
The teams traded interceptions and punts until midway through the second quarter, when Justin Thompson broke through the line and blocked Sean Deegan’s punt attempt from the Foran 11. Troy Vasilescu recovered it in the end zone.
Zoppi’s second of five conversion kicks gave Shelton a 14-7 lead with 5:04 left in the first half.
“That’s the turning point of the game,” Bevino said. “It’s 7-7 and we’re going toe-to-toe with the No. 8 team in the state.”
Shelton put one more score on the board before the break.
Thompson (77 yards) and Michael Pingree alternated carries twice to move the chains from the Gaels’ 37 to the Lions’ 38.
Piccirillo found Thompson on a screen pass, and the senior followed Pawlowski’s block for nine yards.
With time winding down and out of timeouts, Piccirillo ran for 11 yards, threw to Pingree for six, and then followed Thompson into the end zone with 12 seconds left in the half.
Petithomme’s interception on the Gaels’ 5-yard line stopped the Lions opening drive of the third quarter.
Two possessions later, Pingree took a jet sweep around a Mike Ortoli block for 25 yards and a touchdown.
Zoppi’s conversion kick made it 28-7 with 5:06 left in the third.
Foran put together a nine-play drive from its 44 to the Shelton 34 late in the third period, but Grasso tipped a fourth-down pass at the line of scrimmage and the Gaels took over on downs.
The O-line led Shelton downfield as the final period got underway. Shelton went 67 yards in 14 plays to take 6:15 off the clock before Piccirillo’s four-yard run gave Shelton a 35-7 lead with 4:52 remaining.
Thompson, who caught four passes for 29 yards, kept the drive going when he reversed fields and tip-toed the sideline for a key 16-yard gain.
Foran closed the scoring with 3:14 remaining on a Kasuba-to-Connor Cadrin touchdown pass.
Shelton will host Fairfield Prep (3-1) at 7 p.m. on Friday at Finn Stadium.