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Piccirillo leads Shelton past Derby

Updated 11:11 pm, Thursday, November 22, 2012

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  • Shelton's Shane Corcoran throws off a tackle from Derby's Jordan LaRue during the Thanksgiving Day football game Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012 at Shelton High School. Photo: Autumn Driscoll / Connecticut Post
    Shelton's Shane Corcoran throws off a tackle from Derby's Jordan LaRue during the Thanksgiving Day football game Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012 at Shelton High School. Photo: Autumn Driscoll

 

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SHELTON -- Mark Piccirillo's first year as a starter might have been a roller-coaster ride, but he picked the right game to finish it strong.

The sophomore quarterback rushed for two touchdowns and passed for the game winner, leading the Gaels to a 27-21 win over rival Derby in the 102nd meeting between the schools Thursday morning at Finn Stadium. It was the 10th straight victory in the series for Shelton (6-4), which leads 53-42-7 all-time.

"Now I can have a happy Thanksgiving," Shelton coach Jeff Roy said.

The Red Raiders (6-4), who enjoyed their first winning season since 1996, were in line for the holiday celebration, but indulged in too many turnovers -- five -- on the field to escape with their first win since 2002.

The final mistake, a fumble by sophomore quarterback Michael Kreiger at the Shelton 36-yard line after a vicious hit that knocked him out of the game, was the most painful.

Jeremy Taramelli recovered the ball at the Shelton 28, setting up Piccirillo's heroics. The young quarterback, who received the Silver Turkey Award as MVP, marched the Gaels 72 yards on four plays, capping it with a 38-yard touchdown strike to Kyle Drost (4 catches, 102 yards) with 3:43 remaining. Piccirillo added a two-point conversion run to make it 27-21.

"It was a good team effort," said Piccirillo, who passed for 126 yards on 8 of 16 attempts and rushed for 111 yards on 14 carries.

"In the fourth quarter, we finally put something together."

Piccirillo could have easily been left with the holiday blues. With 7:38 left and the Gaels down 21-19, Piccirillo broke through the line for a 70-yard run only to have the ball stolen out of his hands by Dillon McMahon, who broke his thumb on the game's first play, at the Derby 10.

"Ugggh," Piccirillo said, when reminded of the play. "I'm thanking the defense for (getting the ball back)."

Lost in the wild finish was Derby junior tailback Tyrae Small's 220-yard, two-touchdown performance on 28 carries. But Small also had three of the Red Raiders' four fumbles.

"We killed ourselves," Derby coach George French said. "We had three fumbles and one interception in the first half, but we were lucky the defense held us in it."

Shelton converted Derby's first turnover into a 7-0 lead with 2:47 left in the first quarter. William Karcher recovered Small's fumble at the Red Raiders' 18-yard line. On the next play, Piccirillo scored on a quarterback keeper.

Small fumbled again on the next series at Derby's 24, but Shelton gave it right back when Piccirillo had a snap sail over his head. Kreiger then directed an eight-play, 63-yard drive that ended with the sophomore quarterback hitting Sal Frosceno for a 10-yard touchdown pass to tie it at 7 with 9:15 left in the second quarter.

The Red Raiders dominated offensively in the opening half, with Small rushing for 70 yards on 17 carries and Kreiger going 9-for-13 for 57 yards and an interception, but were stopped by the mistakes.

Ed Groth's 33-yard field goal with 25.9 seconds left in the half gave Shelton a 10-7 lead. Groth also added a 32-yard field goal in the third quarter, which made it 13-7 Shelton. Small responded with two-touchdown runs -- 14 and 40 yards -- to put Derby up 21-13.

"I think we realized we couldn't lose this game," Piccirillo said. "The seniors didn't want to go out being a 5-5 team. The whole season didn't go the way we wanted to and we just wanted to go out with a win."

wpaxton@ctpost.com; http://twitter.com/wspaxton; http://blog.ctnews.com/paxton/

DERBY ............................................0 7 14 0--21

SHELTON......................................... 7 3 3 14--27

S--Mark Piccirillo 18 run (Ed Groth kick)

D--Sal Frosceno 10 pass Michael Kreiger (Frosceno kick)

S--Groth 33 field goal

S--Groth 32 field goal

D--Tyrae Small 14 run (Frosceno kick)

D--Small 40 run (Frosceno kick)

S--Piccirillo 1 run (pass failed)

S--Kyle Drost 38 pass Piccirillo (Piccirillo run)

Records: Derby 6-4; Shelton 6-4