Gaels roar back to clip Spartans (Updated)

Mark Piccirillo threw a touchdown pass to Kyle Drost with 5:34 left in the game, powering Shelton High to a 34-28 victory over Amity at Finn Stadium on Saturday.

Piccirillo, a sophomore, completed 16-of-25 passes for 217 yards and rushed for 61 yards on 14 attempts to fuel the Gaels’ rally, while the Shelton defense tightened up over the final 12 minutes to keep the Spartans off of the scoreboard.

“That was a great win for us,” Gael coach Jeff Roy said. “We had a lot of guys missing. Our kids fought, grinded and played hard all game. It was a shootout and we came out on top.”

Senior linebacker Jim Farrell led Shelton’s defensive charge with 11 tackles, while Christian Federici added nine tackles and fellow junior Michael Pingree had five tackles and recovered a fumble.

Pingree also hauled in five receptions for a team-high 78 receiving yards, as Shelton showed off a multi-dimension offense attack that piled up 343 yards of offense.

Eddie Kochiss added five catches for 64 yards and a touchdown, while Drost chipped in with three catches for 55 yards.

Junior tailback Jason Thompson returned after missing last week’s game with an injury and carried the ball 12 times for 56 yards.

“We mixed things up to keep them off-balance,” Roy said.

The Gaels (2-1) trailed 14-3 early in the second quarter of the SCC Division I West showdown, as the Spartans took the lead on a pair of rushing scores from senior tailback David Attolino — who rushed for 122 yards on 20 carries.

Attolino, along with senior quarterback James Semmonella (15 carries for 115 yards), spearheaded a Spartan wishbone rushing attack that amassed 280 yards on 48 carries.

But, the Spartans’ inability to mix in the pass effectively — Semmonella completed just 4-of-10 passes for 57 yards — hampered them late in the game.

After a long return by Kochiss on the game’s opening kickoff set up Shelton at the Amity 33-yard line, the Spartan defense held and Groth converted a 34-yard field goal with 8:57 left in the frame.

Amity responded with a five-play, 54-yard scoring drive, aided by a major face mask on the Gaels and a 33-yard scramble by Semmonella.

Attolino punched in a two-yard touchdown at the 7:07 mark, with the first of Luth’s four extra points making it 7-3 Amity.

Shelton went three-and-out on its ensuing possession, which the Spartans answered with a 15-play, 84-yard scoring drive that took nearly seven minutes off of the game clock.

Again it was Attolino who finished off the drive, picking up a block from Zach Torro on the right edge and rumbling in from six yards out with 10:50 left in the second quarter.

Piccirillo then scrambled for a nine-yard touchdown with 3:44 left in the first half, before Groth kicked a 41-yard field goal with six seconds remaining — his second field goal of the game.

Amity (1-2) then countered with 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive to open the second half, capped by a six-yard Attolino plunge to make it 21-13.

Piccirillo connected with Kochiss on a 30-yard strike to make it 21-19, but the Gaels’ two-point conversion attempt failed and Amity held onto the lead.

A two-yard run by junior tailback David Buono extended the Spartan edge to 28-19, before a one-yard dive from Thompson with nine seconds left in the third period sparked the Gaels’ string of 15 unanswered points to end the game.

“He’s playing injured,” Roy said of Thompson. “It was a nice surprise to have him back.”

Pingree recovered a Spartan fumble on the first play of the fourth quarter, but Spartan junior defensive back Cory Ricks intercepted Piccirillo’s pass on the very next play.

Shelton’s defense forced a three-and-out, setting up the 56-yard, nine-play scoring drive capped by Piccirillo’s go-ahead, 11-yard touchdown pass to Drost.

Semmonella was then forced out of bounds short of the chains by Will Karcher on the next Spartan drive on a fourth-and-three. The Spartan signal-caller gained a yard,