MIDDLETOWN >> Andrew Meoli and Joe Carbone make the Xavier offense go. Both were at the top of their games Friday night as the duo led the Falcons to a 54-13 romp over Notre Dame in a Southern Connecticut Conference matchup played front of 1,000 at Palmer Field.
Meoli rushed for 211 yards on 17 carries, good for three touchdowns, and Carbone passed for 136 yards and a touchdown on a 9-for-13 performance. Carbone also rushed for 85 yards on 12 attempts with two touchdowns as the Falcons improved to 5-2 and kept their postseason hopes alive.
“This was a very good one, probably our best game of the year,” said Xavier coach Sean Marinan. “We eliminated out mental mistakes and we were very physical, which is what I wanted. And Meoli and Carbone came to play. They were terrific as was our offensive line.”
Xavier moved the ball at will, piling up a stunning 568 yards, 432 coming on the ground in 45 carries. The Falcons’ defense held the Green Knights to 56 yards rushing.
“I didn’t see this coming,” said Notre Dame coach Tom Marcucci. “We gave them three one-play touchdown drives and we didn’t tackle. I just didn’t have them ready. I thought we were ready to play and would give them a good game, but we weren’t ready and they were.”
This looked like a competitive game in the early going. Xavier scored on its first play from scrimmage, a 35-yard touchdown pass from Carbone to Kaleb Lutton to take a 6-0 lead. Notre Dame came right back, driving 72 yards in eight plays, tying the game on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Christian Lupoli (12-for-20, 182 yards) to Drew Arciuolo.
The score was 6-6 after one, but after that, it was all Xavier all the time.
Carbone scored on a 27-yard run with 8:25 left in the half and with Andrew Verre’s kick, Xavier led 13-6. Three minutes later, Meoli scored from 13 yards out. The run failed, but Xavier led 19-6.
Three minutes after that, Meoli ran 54 yards for the fourth Xavier touchdown and with Verre’s kick, Xavier led 26-6 at the half. That was only a hint of what was coming.
Carbone scored on an 8-yard run with 8:39 to play in the third. Two and half minutes later it was Meoli’s turn as he ran 63 yards to give Xavier a 40-6 lead. Early in the fourth quarter, second-string quarterback Mike Scherer ran 24 yards for a touchdown and with Verre’s two kicks, Xavier led 47-6 with 10:42 left in the game.
Notre Dame (2-5) got a so-what TD with 6:43 remaining when second-string QB Blake Rice hit Arciuolo from 17 yards out, but Xavier answered when Scherer (4 carries, 64 yards) scored on a 9-yard run with 2:44 left to play.
“I was concerned about this game because of how we played against West Haven [a 35-34 overtime loss last week] and the kinds of mistakes we made,” said Marinan. “But I saw a noticeable change in their focus in practice this week, that is, until yesterday when we did not have a good practice.
“But I was happy with how we played tonight.,”
Marcucci expected better.
“I’m never disappointed in kids,” Marcucci said. “But I’m disappointed in the outcome. Xavier has a good team, but I don’t think they’re 54-13 better than us. But they were tonight, so give them credit.”
Xavier plays Hand of Madison on the road Friday at 7 p.m.