Big 2nd half lifts Southington over Fairfield Prep in Class LL football final
WEST HAVEN -- Down 14 points at halftime in pursuit of a long-awaited state title Thursday, Southington quarterback Stephen Barmore stayed composed in the pocket.
The Yale-bound signal-caller picked apart Fairfield Prep's defense, connecting regularly with his favorite target, junior Alex Jamele.
The Jesuits -- in their first final in 25 years thanks in part to a unit that out-muscled opposing offenses -- couldn't find a way to stop him.
On the strength of a 38-point second half, No. 4 Southington rallied past No. 7 Fairfield Prep 52-34 in the Class LL championship at Ken Strong Stadium.
"They started pouring it on," Prep coach Tom Shea said, "and it seemed like there was just one extra guy we couldn't block each time."
Southington finished 12-1 after the much-anticipated game, while Prep dropped to 11-3. Originally scheduled to be played last Saturday at Central Connecticut State, last weekend's snowstorm forced the CIAC to postpone the game three times.
Jamele gashed Prep in the second half, hauling in three of Barmore's four scoring passes. His first two scores -- a 60-yard run-and-catch and a 4-yard score -- helped Southington rally from 14 points down to tie it 28-28 in the third quarter.
"He can run every route, he can catch every ball. After the catch, he's dynamic," Southington coach Mike Drury said of Jamele, who caught 10 passes for 230 yards. "He's not only quick and elusive, but he's a very strong, physical kid."
Dominating the line on both sides of the ball, Southington outscored Prep by 32 points in the second half to collect its second title and first since 1998. Prep dropped to 3-2 all-time in the state finals.
"They just beat us," said Prep's Nick Crowle, who led all rushers with 178 yards and two touchdowns. "There's no good explanation for what happened other than they just beat us at our own game."
Entering Thursday, the Jesuits' game consisted of a punishing ground game, a big-play passing attack and an oportunistic defense. The Jesuits featured a little bit of each against Southington, but not enough.
Quarterback Colton Smith rushed for 163 yards and two scores, propelling Prep to a 28-14 halftime lead. But, he also tossed four interceptions, nearly matching the six he threw in the previous 12 games.
Barmore intercepted Smith (8-for-24, 120 yards) twice, the second of which he returned 67 yards for a touchdown with 2:04 left to cap the scoring.
"We make adjustments at halftime and we usually shut teams down in the second half, or whatever they've been exploiting in the first half," Barmore said. "There was no doubt in my mind that this was going to be the result."
Southington made plenty of timely adjustments on offense as well. Outgained 152-39 in the first half, it piled up 288 yards over the final two quarters to thump the Jesuits. Barmore completed 22-of-33 passes for 346 yards.
"We were calm going into halftime because we knew what we're capable of doing," Barmore said, referring to an offense that averaged 49 points in its three playoff wins.
After Crowle's 7-yard run put Prep back ahead 34-31 with 9:52 left, Southington marched 66 yards in seven plays to regain the lead for good. Barmore's 7-yard strike to Jasen Rose made it 38-34 with 8:11 left.
The 6-foot-3, 246-pound Crowle, who will join Barmore next fall at Yale, pounded the Blue Knights for 128 yards on 13 carries in the first half. His 53-yard run gave the Jesuits a 21-7 lead just 61 seconds into the second quarter.
But, like the rest of the Jesuits' offense, Crowle was limited in the second half. He received 13 carries again, this time for only 50 yards.
"It was more a case of just not getting the job done," Shea said. "They might've had some people hitting different gaps, but we didn't block them. We didn't block them.
"Every time it's a bunch of one-on-one plays, and we didn't win as many as we should've."
John DelliSanti led Prep's receivers with 104 yards and one touchdown on four catches.
Class LL championship at West Haven
FAIRFIELD PREP 14 14 0 6 -- 34
SOUTHINGTON 7 7 14 24 -- 52
S -- Tyler Hyde 2 run (Kyle Smick kick)
FP -- Smith 2 run (Healy kick)
FP -- Nick Crowle 53 run (Healy kick)
S -- Stephen Barmore 1 run (Smick kick)
FP -- John DelliSanti 31 pass Smith (Healy kick)
S -- Alex Jamele 60 pass Barmore (Smick kick)
S -- Jamele 4 pass Barmore (Smick kick)
S -- Smick 21 field goal
FP -- Crowle 7 run (Kick failed)
S -- Rose 8 pass Barmore (Smick kick)
S -- Jamele 20 pass Barmore (Smick kick)
S -- Barmore 67 interception return (Smick kick)
Records: Fairfield Prep 11-3; Southington 12-1.