FAIRFIELD >> Junior quarterback Colton Smith ran for 299 yards, threw for 128 more, scored three touchdowns and threw for another to lead Fairfield Prep to a 46-27 win over Xavier at Alumni Field on the campus of Fairfield University Saturday night.
With the win, Prep’s first over Xavier since 2008, the Jesuits projected themselves into the Class LL playoff picture.
“It’s euphoria,” Prep linebacker and fullback Nick Crowle said. “I’m at a loss for words. Xavier’s a great team. We came out and played the game of our lives. I’m speechless.”
Three-time defending Class LL champion Xavier is likely out of the postseason with the loss, though it can still squeak into the postseason if several teams lose on Thanksgiving week.
“We’ve had great victories here at Prep,” coach Tom Shea said. “This was one of them. Xavier has been the dominant program for three years, but now we’ve arrived. Our offense was terrific tonight and our defense made plays when it had to.”
Prep took a 6-0 lead at 6:43 of the first quarter on an 8-yard run by Crowle (18 carries, 129 yards), but Xavier bounced back on a 38-yard run by Andrew Meoli (20 carries, 154 yards) for its only lead, 7-6.
Prep added two more first-half scores on a pass from Smith to John Delisanti of 11 yards and a 34-yard run by Crowle. Xavier scored on a 27-yard run by Meoli just before the half to cut Prep’s lead to 18-13 at the break.
The turning point came with 5 minutes left in the third and Prep leading 24-20. On fourth and one at his own 21-yard line, Xavier coach Sean Marinan decided to go for it. The pass from Joe Carbone to Meoli lost two yards. Prep took over and scored and the game spiraled out of control for Xavier.
“I mismanaged the game,” said Marinan. “This is one me. It’s my fault. Dumb, dumb, dumb. I completely outcoached myself.”
After that call by Marinan, Prep exploded for three touchdowns to take a 46-20 lead. Two of the TD runs were by Smith of 40 and 34 yards. Those were in addition to his 80-yard jaunt that opened the second half.
Xavier got an 84-yard kickoff return after Prep took the 26-point lead to account for the Falcons’ final touchdown.
Prep (8-2) had 561 yards offense, 433 on the ground and the 128 in the air on a 7-for-9 performance by Smith.
Xavier (7-3) had 335 yards, 266 on the ground — Carbone had 112 on 12 carries — and 69 in the air on an 11-for-26 performance by Carbone. He also threw an interception in the first half that led to a Prep score.
“We knew their quarterback was a very good runner,” said Marinan. “But we weren’t prepared for him to be their offense. We were over pursuing and we couldn’t stop him. Prep has a very good team. I thought we were coming back, but then I blew it.”
Xavier can now just sit and wait for Thanksgiving results to come in. Prep (vs. West Haven), Staples (vs. Greenwich) and Trumbull (vs. St. Joseph) would all need to lose for Xavier to start believing it can defend its Class LL title again.
Sean Patrick Bowley contributed.