Storm can't stop Prep football, but Hand does, 28-14
Published 10:53 am, Friday, September 17, 2010
While new Fairfield Prep's Tom Shea would liked to have seen his head football coaching career get off to a thunderous start, he had to settle for scattered strikes from the Jesuits and a lot more from the clouds above.
Lightning and heavy rain temporarily postponed Shea's first game as coach Thursday night at Alumni Field on the Fairfield University campus, but after the storm cleared, the opposing side, Daniel Hand High School of Madison, doused his offense.
Hand scored 13 unanswered points after the delay and went on to a 28-14 victory.
"We couldn't finish," Shea said after the game, adding that turnovers and the inability to line up, be in position and ready for the play, killed the Jesuits' offense.
Shea said that he is trying to change the culture of football squad after a 0-10 season last year, but added there are "no quick fixes. We are seeing some positive results."
Last season, Hand defeated the Jesuits 35-7 and Shea said he was "absolutely" proud of the advances his team has made since then.
"I told them that we've done all the preparation right, the next thing that you have to do is start to learn how to bang," Shea said. "Throughout the scrimmages we've had sparks where we've played well. I said, `The challenge tonight is to come out and play well for a longer period of time.' "
Shea, however, added there is more work to be done to reach that point.
Fairfield Prep (0-1, 0-1 Southern Connecticut Conference) scored the first touchdown of the game on a roll-out, 20-yard halfback pass from sophomore Tom Brewster to Elijah Langston on the Jesuits' first offensive play. That touchdown came after senior defensive lineman Serge Jean-Baptiste forced a fumble on Hand's first play of the night.
The Tigers (1-0, 1-0 SCC) would answer before the weather delay, marching down the field on the next series for a four-yard Kevin Frey touchdown run, making it 7-7.
The rain had been falling since the start of the game, with lightning in the distance.
Then, after a Fairfield Prep interception thrown by quarterback C.J. Donahue with 3:48 left in the first quarter, Hand had the ball on the 3-yard line. Before the Tigers could run a play, a thunder clap and flash of lightning near the field forced referees to stop play at 6:23 p.m.
The game resumed a little over an hour later and quarterback Zachary Miller scrambled around the line and scored for Hand. The Tigers missed the extra point, making the score 13-7.
That's how the score remained until halftime.
After the break, Prep had the ball on its 25-yard line. Donahue's pass to senior Kyle Vignone was knocked out of his hands on a hard hit and caught by Hand's Cory Sweitzer, who ran 30 yards for a touchdown. The extra point was successful, putting the Tigers ahead 20-7.
Later in the third quarter, with just over seven minutes remaining, Fairfield Prep's offense began to again show signs of life. The Jesuits moved the ball 60 yards down the field and on fourth down and goal from the 11, following a touchdown run negated by a holding penalty, Donahue rolled out and threw a touchdown pass to McAvey. The extra point was tallied by Alex Fossi, bringing the Jesuits within six points, 20-14, at the end of the third quarter.
But that was as close as they would get. Despite stopping Hand twice on fourth down with the ball only 20 yards or less away from the end zone in the fourth quarter, the Jesuits could not get their offense kick-started again. Prep fumbled on its 37 with 3:50 remaining in the game and Hand's quarterback Miller threw his only touchdown of the game to Casey Dowd, extending its lead to 28-14.
The defense was strong for the Jesuits, Shea said, especially since they were forced to play with a short field on two of the three Hand touchdown drives.
Shea said that when his team starts to play well for a longer period of time, "then we'll start winning. And unfortunately you can't change the order of that. The winning will come and I am pleased with the progress we've made, but we still have a way to go. We just need to continue working hard."
The Jesuits will be at home again at 7 p.m. Sept. 24 against Griswold. The school's undefeated varsity football team from 1960 will be honored at halftime.