The Shelton High football team earned a hard-fought 35-28 victory over Newtown High in the Class LL state semifinals on Monday night at Finn Stadium. Leading by a seven points after Ethan Carpenter caught a 5-yard touchdown for the fourth-seeded Nighthawks with 4:26 left to play, the Gaels regained possession at their own 16-yard line. Once again, the top-seeded Gaels overwhelmed Newtown when they needed to, converting three critical third downs that allowed them to run out the clock and secure the victory. \u201cNewtown is an excellent football team and very well-coached,\u201d Shelton High head coach Jeff Roy said. \u201cWe knew it was going to be tough. Our kids just kept coming\u2026 They kept fighting and we were able to close it out there in the end.\u201d Quarterback Zach Tuskowski completed third-down passes to Anthony Schiavo and Alex Kirk to keep the drive alive, before Ron Hubbard took a direct snap on third-and-3 from the Newtown 49 for a 5-yard gain that salted away the rest of the clock. \u201cHe had a heck of a game on both sides of the ball,\u201d Roy said of Hubbard. \u201cHe\u2019s our leader. He\u2019s a heck of a football player.\u201d Shelton, which lost in last year\u2019s Class LL Small Division state final, will face second-seeded Darien High (11-0) in the championship game at Willowbrook Park in New Britain on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. The Blue Wave decimated third-seeded Southington High, 49-7, in the other semifinal on Monday night. Shelton never trailed against Newtown, taking the game\u2019s opening kickoff and marching 64 yards in seven plays for a score. Hubbard finished off the drive with a 7-yard Wildcat pass to Jon Sobotka, with Joe Zoppi converting the first of five PATs to stake the Gaels to a 7-0 edge at the 9:20 mark of the first half. Newtown responded by advancing to the Shelton 1 in nine plays, but fullback Ben Mason fumbled the ball attempting to leap over the pile. David Wells recovered the loose ball in the endzone for a touchback, giving it back to the Gaels at their own 20. Shelton failed to capitalize, fumbling it away two plays later to set up Newtown\u2019s first score. Michael Doyle then pulled the Nighthawks level at 7, surging around the left side for a 12-yard TD that tied the game following Ryan Kost\u2019s extra point. Kevin Robinson put Shelton back ahead with 1:24 left in the opening frame on the next Gael possession, as the senior hauled in a 34-yard scoring strike from Tuskowski. \u201cWe just showed that we have depth and that anybody on the field can get it done,\u201d Robinson said. \u201cWe just showed it\u2019s a team sport, we all play together and get it done.\u201d The teams then traded turnovers on the next four possessions, with Newtown fumbling twice and the Gaels losing a fumble and throwing an interception. After Jared Pearson picked off Tuskowski with 8:15 left in the second quarter, Justin Dunn fired a 38-yard touchdown pass to Mason to pull Newtown level. Once again, Shelton responded. Tuskowski connected with Schiavo for a 24-yard touchdown with 2:27 left in the first half. A botched snap on a punt by Newtown on its first drive of the second half set up the next Shelton score. Hubbard punched in a 1-yard score at the 8:34 mark, as the Gaels took advantage of the short field. Dunn\u2019s 5-yard TD pass to Mason in the left flat made it a 28-21 game with 10:17 left to play, before Hubbard barreled in from 10 yards out to re-establish Shelton\u2019s two-score margin. Carpenter\u2019s 5-yard touchdown reception got Newtown with striking distance, but Shelton\u2019s offense kept the chains moving to grind down the clock and give the Gaels their second consecutive trip to the state finals.