Trojans beat ND-Fairfield, 34-20
For the first time in at least 10 years, the Weston football team is victorious against Notre Dame of Fairfield. Weston raised its record to 2-0 on Saturday by showing fortitude in a 34-20 home victory over Notre Dame (0-2).
"I think it means a lot to the kids and it always feels good when you get a win," Trojans Coach Joe Lato said. "There were a lot of peaks and valleys today and we'll learn from them. The kids found a way to do it. At times, we showed we were gassed and at other times, we should we're able to play another quarter. People stepped it up and in the end, conditioning made a difference for us."
It was a tale of two halves with both offenses struggling in the first half before coming to life in the third quarter. Weston's defense was near-flawless before the break Senior quad-captains Jack Crowell (12 tackles, two tipped passes, one sack, one quarterback pressure) and Drew Clevinger (eight tackles, two quarterback pressures) and classmate Carmine Magnoli (eight tackles, three quarterback pressures) spearheaded the Trojan defense and suffocated the Lancer offense, limiting them 218 net yards.
"The main key was to contain the quarterback, wrap him up and make sure he doesn't scramble against us," Crowell said. "Our defense has been strong all year and the defensive line pressured the quarterback."
Crowell had a 19-yard sack to give Weston the ball on downs in the second quarter and tipped two balls, which set the tone for Notre Dame junior quarterback Daquan Coleman, who was 1-5 throwing for -2 yards through three quarters before finding a reliable target in the fourth quarter. Coleman was 4-11 for 68 yards overall.
"I read the screens and I should have had an interception on one of them," Crowell said. It was frustrating."
After forcing the Lancers to go three-and-out on the first possession of the game, the Trojans drove 48 yards and reached the Notre Dame 4-yard line. Senior Jacob Spencer (two catches for 63 yards) gave Weston a first-and-goal on the 7 after catching a 26-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Tyler Hassett (4-8 for 90 yards) but settled for a field goal, which junior JD Simons kicked from 21 yards out to make it 3-0 with 5:41 remaining in the first quarter.
Despite struggling on offense, the Lancers were able to strike with the big play behind sophomore Nigel Beckford. Beckford (15 carries for 187 yards) broke many tackles and ran 62 yards for the touchdown with 2:48 left and gave Notre Dame a 6-3 lead.
The Trojans struggled on offense in the first half but did well with special teams. After punting from the Lancer 49, Spencer recovered a fumble Notre Dame's 14. However, Weston fumbled it two plays later and Lancer senior Billy Stimple recovered it and returned it 70 yards to the Trojan 16. In the end, Weston's defense held firm and Crowell's sack ended the drive.
Notre Dame's defense stopped the Trojans with senior tri-captain Ben Cohen making two tackles on back-to-back plays for a net gain of zero yards and junior Tom Allen broke up a Hassett pass. Crowell then punted 42 yards to pin the Lancers on their 5.
Weston then forced a three-and-out and Notre Dame senior tri-captain Kevin Harrigan punted from his 1. Crowell and Magnoli blocked his punt and Spencer recovered it in the end zone for the touchdown with 3:40 to go in the half. Simons' kick made it 10-7.
"We had two people draw the blockers and I snuck through on the inside," Crowell said. "It was a short field."
Spencer said, "That was all Jack, he blocked it and I was there and got lucky."
Late in the half, the Trojans had a chance to extend their lead but Coleman intercepted Hassett's pass.
On the first drive of the second half, a bad exchange between Hassett and Spencer produced a fumble which Lancer senior tri-captain Chris Drusbosky (11 tackles) recovered on the Trojan 27. One play later, Beckford scores on a 27-yard run and adds the two-point conversion to give Notre Dame a 14-10 lead.
The game then became a shootout as Weston answered with a three-play, 71-yard drive. Senior quad-captain Eddie Hutchins broke tackles for a 26-yard run to the Lancer 37 and on the next play, Hassett hit Spencer up the middle for a 37-yard touchdown pass with 9:37 left in the third quarter. Simons' kick made it 17-14.
"Tyler threw a great ball on both receptions and I was able to catch them," Spencer said.
It looked like Notre Dame was in trouble, especially after sophomore kick returner Frank Zumbo was tackled on his 17 by Crowell, but Beckford changed that by finding a seam and running 83 yards for the touchdown. The score remained 20-17 because Crowell and Clevinger tackled Beckford short of the goal-line on a two-point conversion attempt.
Hutchins (25 carries for 163) took over the game and led the Trojans on a 56-yard touchdown drive.
"I had good blocking, the holes were there and I hit them hard," Hutchins said. "The offensive line did a good job."
Magnoli, senior Danny O'Brien, Tom McGlone, Clevinger and Crowell were a formidable offensive line to start the game and after McGlone got injured in the second quarter, sophomore Jack Hamilton took his place and did well in the trenches as well.
"It's a tribute to our conditioning over the summer and we were able to push them around," Clevinger said. "They were tired by the end of the third quarter."
Senior Jamie Terrell (three carries for 23 yards, one catch for 28 yards) also contributed with a 13-yard run to keep Notre Dame's defense off-balance. Hutchins capped the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run with 2:01 remaining in the third quarter. Simons' kick made it 24-20.
Beckford twisted his ankle at the tail end of the third quarter. Although he missed some time, he later returned. Shortly after he was sidelined, Coleman hit Harrigan (two catches for 71 yards) for a 61-yard gain to the Trojan 31. Hassett made the touchdown-saving tackle. On a third-and-seven, Harrigan caught a 10-yard pass to give the Lancers a first down on the 18. Coleman's 12-yard run made it second-and-three from the 11, but junior Matt Keeney combined with Clevinger for a stop of Beckford for no gain. Keeney (four tackles, one sack) then pressured Coleman into throwing an incomplete pass and Crowell and Magnoli tackled Beckford for a one-yard loss off a screen play.
Hutchins pinned Notre Dame to its 8 with a 45-yard punt off the wildcat formation, which is where he did most of his damage running the ball.
"I think they were frustrated the entire game and the wildcat through them off," Hutchins said. "They didn't know how to stop it. I got a good roll on the punt."
Coleman then grounded the ball in the end zone while he was in Magnoli's clutches. Intentional grounding was called and Magnoli was credited with the sack and a safety.
"I played technique and I did what my coaches told me to do," Magnoli said.
Clevinger then recovered the onside kick and Hutchins then rambled 36 yards for the touchdown.
"The offensive line blocked well and I found the holes," Hutchins said.
Simons lined up to kick the point but the holder Farrell hit Keeney in the end zone for two points.
Senior Eric Zimmerman had a four-yard reception and Spencer had four tackles.
"I think we were more together as a team," Clevinger said. "Last year, we would have folded if we were down, but this year, we stayed together because we knew we were better than them."