GLASTONBURY >> On just the second play of Tuesday night’s Class LL state quarterfinal game against No. 2 Glastonbury, seventh-seeded Fairfield Prep made quite the opening proclamation: they weren’t going anywhere.
Prep’s Brett Stevenson intercepted and returned a 42-yard tipped pass for a touchdown and gave the Jesuits the early 7-0 lead. Two plays later, the Prep defense sacked quarterback Jalen Ollie to force and recover the fumble.
Quarterback Colton Smith capitalized on the possession, running in for the 20-yard score. Less than five minutes into the contest at Glastonbury High, Prep led 13-0.
“I think it was a big statement,” Smith said.
Led by Smith’s 266 rushing yards and four touchdowns, the Jesuits (10-2) held off a second-half comeback from Glastonbury (10-2) to win 33-23 and advance to the Class LL semifinals where they will face No. 6 West Haven on Saturday at Trumbull High at 2 p.m.
“We made some great plays on both sides,” Prep head coach Tom Shea said. “Start off with a big play on defense, we had a bit of a lead, then we made a few mistakes and had a chance to put it away early and didn’t. It was very competitive game. But our kids never quit, they played hard and found answers.”
Prep, playing in its first state playoff game since 2006, never trailed and survived its biggest test late in the third quarter as Ollie connected with Anthony Anisimov for a 24-yard touchdown to cut the Jesuits’ lead to 26-23.
Prep’s answer? Smith. The junior quarterback saw an opening on the first play of the ensuing drive and raced 77 yards down the field for the 33-23 advantage.
“That’s how great of a player he is,” Shea said. “He can make plays like that and turn games around.”
Said Glastonbury coach Scott Daniels: “We knew he can run. He can make plays; he’s a dynamic kid.”
Glastonbury was led by Ollie, who attempted to will his team to victory. After trailing 19-3 in the first half, he engineered a drive and found teammate Ethan Ericson for a 4-yard score. The Tomahawks trailed 19-10 at the half.
Ollie, who finished the game completing 23 of 42 passes for 376 yards, made things difficult for the Prep defense at times with his ability to scramble and create on the fly.
“He was like a magician a couple times,” Shea said. “You got to give it to him. He really was something. We had him in our hands a few times and couldn’t put him down.”
But in the end, Prep’s defense responded when it needed to. On a fourth and long, the line applied pressure to Ollie and forced an incompletion to give the offense the ball back late in the fourth quarter.
“Our defense was prepared,” Smith said.
Prep started the second half just like the first half. With a big play. Smith ran for 50 yards and then punched it in from 7 yards out to give Prep the 26-10 lead.
Glastonbury answered right back on the next play as Ollie found Ericson down the sideline for 61 yards to make it 26-16.
Prep’s Nick Crowle finished the game with 78 yards on 18 carries, while Smith added 58 yards through the air.
Ollie finished the season with 2,977 yards passing.
Fairfield Prep 33, Glastonbury 23
Fairfield Prep 19 0 14 0 — 33
Glastonbury 3 7 13 0 — 23
F—Brett Stevenson 42 int ret (Healy kick good)
F—Colton Smith 20 run (Kick no good)
F—Colton Smith 46 run (2-point conversion no good)
G—Ethan Ericson 4 pass from Jalen Ollie (Kick good)
F—Colton Smith 7 run (Kick no good)
G—Ethan Ericson 61 pass from Jalen Ollie (Kick blocked)
G—Anthony Anisimov 24 pass from Jalen Ollie (Kick good )
F—Colton Smith 77 run (Kick good)
Rushing—FP: Colton Smith, 22-266; Nicholas Crowle, 18-78;
Passing—FP: Colton Smith, 2-6-58-2; Glst: Jalen Ollie, 23-42-376-1;
Team records: Glastonbury 10-2; Fairfield Prep 10-2.