Prep falls short in bid to return to playoffs
Win and in.
A Week 10 loss to Xavier might've shaken Fairfield Prep's emotions, but it didn't shatter the Jesuits' playoff hopes. The reality was the Jesuits still controlled their own destiny heading into Thanksgiving.
The Jesuits failed to capitalize on that opportunity, however, as West Haven dealt them a season-ending 21-14 loss at Ken Strong Stadium.
"Two weeks in a row. What can you do?" said coach Tom Shea, whose team dropped its last two games to finish 7-4. "Two cracks at it and couldn't get it."
Sitting in ninth in Class LL -- one place behind the final playoff spot -- entering Thanksgiving, the Jesuits dropped all the way to 13th and out of the postseason picture following the loss to West Haven.
"We just didn't execute," quarterback Colton Smith said. "That's what it comes down to."
Brandon Sebastian ran for two touchdowns, including the go-ahead 17-yard score with 11:24 left, to help West Haven finish 6-5.
"Our kids played big," said Blue Devils coach Ed McCarthy, who declined to address his future amid rumors of retirement. "We beat a real good team."
Just minutes after splitting the Prep defense for an 80-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, Sebastian made one of the game's biggest plays on defense. He hopped on a fumble by Smith, who lost the ball at West Haven's 30-yard line.
"I probably should've just went down and not tried to take any more yards, but it happens," Smith said. "It's football."
Smith completed 15 of 28 passes for 125 yards, 9 of which came on a touchdown to Robert Haskins early in the second quarter to put Prep up 14-7. The quarterback was held in check on the ground (44 yards on seven carries), leaving Joe Ganim as Prep's leading rusher with 77 yards on 15 totes.
The Jesuits drove down to West Haven's 11 late in the fourth after the Blue Devils had taken the lead, but Allen Gibson was stopped for no gain on a fourth-and-2 run. West Haven had a punt partially blocked with 4:06 left, but the Jesuits -- with only one timeout remaining -- failed to pick up a first down on their next drive at midfield. West Haven, which committed to a heavy run game featuring Marshont Little, Anthony Godfrey and Sebastian, ran out the final 3:14 on the clock to ice the Jesuits.
From the outset, the Jesuits struggled to contain West Haven's plethora of speedy playmakers. Little put the Blue Devils up 7-0 just over a minute in, rushing for a 57-yard score on the fourth play from scrimmage.
"They're very dangerous," Shea said. "Very dangerous."
The end result pained the Jesuits, who will be staying home for the postseason one year after reaching the LL final.
"Disappointing," Shea said. "We had high expectations. We got on a streak and we were playing well, and to have two opportunities to close it out and not be able to do so is extremely disappointing."