Fairfield Prep blanks Cheshire 26-0
FAIRFIELD -- If the type of defensive performance Fairfield Prep threw at Cheshire Friday night can be repeated against the four opponents it faces over the balance of the season, the Jesuits' run toward a Class LL football berth will gain a lot of steam. Their defense was nasty in a 26-0 SCC interdivisional game at Fairfield University's Alumni Field, which featured three touchdown runs by quarterback Colton Smith.
Prep's defense outmuscled its sizeable Rams' counterparts on the offensive line, the pursuit by the linebackers and backs was mobile and agile and the combination of grit, hustle and mostly error-free ball by all of them shut down Cheshire almost completely throughout the 48 minutes. The Rams got to the Prep 13 yard line, but failed to convert on a fourth-and-one play while the score was 6-0 approximately five minutes into the second quarter. And that turned out to be the turning point.
By making that red zone stop there and adding three more touchdowns -- two by Smith and one by Nicholas Crowle -- the Jesuits improved to 5-2, while the Rams dropped to 3-4.
"They're a pretty good defensive team," said Cheshire coach Don Drust, pointing to the other end of the field. "We got a little tired there at the end with all their big bodies leaning on us. But on fourth down (in the second quarter), we were unable to execute. We were right there with them then. We ran the ball well on that drive. We were moving it. If they don't stop us there for the first down, who knows ... ?"
What did unfold was Cheshire being unable to mount another serious threat toward the Prep goal line, and the Jesuits attack being able to solve the Rams' defense for three tack-on touchdowns.
Smith plowed in from the 1 yard line almost eight-and-a-half minutes into the first quarter that culminated a nine-play, 54 yard drive that ate up 3:42 off the clock. In the second quarter, he escaped on a 55-yarder through the middle of the Cheshire defense near the midway point. In the third quarter, he had an 8-yard scoring run before a conversion pass to Crowle gave the Jesuits a 20-0 lead. That polished off a seven-play, 60-yard drive of 3:02. In the final 18 seconds of the quarter, Crowle slipped into the end zone from the 4, and that five-play, 47-yard, nearly three-minute march wrapped up the scoring.
"Cheshire was huge," Prep coach Tom Shea said. "I looked at their roster online. They have 16 kids over 220 pounds. There was some big, thick, strong bodies out there tonight. There was a lot of banging around out there.
"We did a pretty good job of stopping them. We made some big plays in their backfield," Shea said. "We did an excellent job of getting (Prep) red shirts to the ball."
Shea noted the super pursuit of Jesuits' linebackers Max Trudeau and Anthony Johnson. Two more interceptions by defensive back Stephen Walsh brought his pickoff total on the season to six. Shea and Drust each praised the powerful work of Prep linemen 6-foot-2, 254-pound Tony Fox and 6-6, 302 Anthony Palazolla (deflected pass), who were rarely blocked by the Rams.
Smith was 8-for-11 for 142 yards passing. He rushed 14 times for 114 yards. Crowle carried nine times for 49 yards, but four times for 37 yards in the second half.
"Nick was on tonight," Shea said. "When he is, he's an absolute force. And Walsh, well, he's a ball-hawk."
For the Rams, running back Jack Cunningham gained 60 yards on 11 runs, but both of his passes -- he backed up Troy Richmond at quarterback -- were intercepted by Walsh.
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Fairfield Prep 26, Cheshire 0
CHESHIRE 0 0 0 0--0
FAIRFIELD PREP 6 6 14 0--26
FP--Colton Smith 1 run (kick failed)
FP--Smith 55 run (pass failed)
FP--Smith 8 run (Nicholas Crowle pass Smith)
FP--Crowle 4 run (pass failed)
Records: Cheshire 3-4, 3-3 SCC; Fairfield Prep 5-2, 4-1 SCC.