Tough season comes to an end for ND-Fairfield
SOUTHBURY -- They battled until the bitter end.
The 2014 season will go down as one of frustration for the Notre Dame Lancers, a season of disappointing defense, inconsistent offense and far too much inexperience. But from the opening kickoff until the final whistle, each and every game, the Lancers fought as hard as they could.
On this night, like many of the others, Pomperaug was simply the better team. The Panthers, led by tailback Michael Foschi, who rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown on just five carries, rolled past Notre Dame 35-7 Tuesday night at Edward Arum field.
Pomperaug rushed for 310 yards as quarterback Wade Prajer added 86 yards on seven carries, including a 34-yard touchdown run, and Michael Curcio had 69 on 11 carries, including a 14-yard touchdown.
"We found something a couple of weeks ago and we've been building on it with our run game with Wade and Michael," Pomperaug coach James Reed said. "Wade is such a dynamic athlete that he offers a whole lot of possibilities. We just wanted to come out and do what we do. The last couple of weeks we kind of found who we want to be and we needed to establish ourselves on offense."
Losing 35-0 and with the final seconds ticking away, Notre Dame broke the shutout on the game's final play as quarterback Shea Olayos found T.J. McMillian for a 19-yard touchdown pass.
"We could have definitely mailed it in," said ND-Fairfield coach Ted Boynton. "These guys, from beginning to end, they never stopped competing. They never stopped believing they could win. They played every play all season long like it was their last play. They're fighters until the end."
Pomperaug drove 68 yards, all on the ground, on its opening possession to take a 7-0 lead as Curcio capped the march with a 14-yard TD run with 7:07 left in the opening quarter. On the Panthers' next possession they needed just one play to make it 14-0 as Foschi broke through the Lancers defense and went 67 yards with 3:06 left in the first quarter. It jumped to 21-0 as Prajer went 34 yards -- after Foschi burned the Lancers for 23 yards the play before -- on the final play of the first quarter.
Notre Dame had a great chance to score in the second quarter, with a first-and-goal at the Panthers' 6-yard line, but after Kevin Bortnick brought the ball down to the 1, the Lancers were stuffed three straight times, leaving them scoreless.
"That was a big turning point," Boynton said. "We wanted to try and get (Kevin) Bortnick a touchdown, He's a senior but when push came to shove we gave it to our ace in the hole, Hakim Fleming, and nine times out of 10 that's going to be a touchdown but the referees said they thought he was stopped and blew the whistle."
Two minutes into the third quarter, Pomperaug made it 28-0 when linebacker Dean Guerrera recovered an Olayos fumble and returned it 56 yards for a touchdown.
Jake Harwell's 39-yard TD run with 8:33 to play pushed the advantage to 35-0.
Notre Dame ends with a 1-10 record, the Lancers' seventh consecutive losing season. Since going 6-4 back in 2007, ND has gone 10-63-1. Pomperaug finishes at 5-6.
ND-FAIRFIELD 0 0 0 7--7
POMPERAUG 21 0 7 7--35
P--Michael Curcio, 14 run (Alfredo Mondragon kick)
P--Michael Foschi, 67 run (Kevin Nadler kick)
P--Wade Prajer, 34 run (Nadler kick)
P--Dean Guerrera, 56 fumble return (Nadler kick)
P--Jake Harwell, 39 run (Nadler kick)
Records: ND-Fairfield 1-10, Pomperaug 5-6