NEW FAIRFIELD — He had the number in mind, and on his last carry of a chilly Wednesday night, New Fairfield senior Zach Buffington broke right past it.
Buffington’s 39-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, his fourth score, put him over 1,000 yards for the season in New Fairfield’s 48-0 win over New Milford on Thanksgiving Eve at Rebels Stadium.
“My teammates helped me. They knew it was a goal, especially this game,” Buffington said. “I needed 228, I think, to break it. Very proud.”
Buffington ran 16 times for 262 yards and helped keep the Green Wave offense quiet as New Fairfield finished a 6-4 season on a four-game winning streak.
“I know they wanted to be in the playoffs,” Rebels coach Anthony Fata said, “but for them to finish out like this, winning their last four, it’s great for them. I’m proud of each and every one of them.”
New Milford finished 0-10.
“They worked hard. They’re hard-working kids,” said Green Wave coach Chuck Lynch, emotional at the end of the year.
New Milford won 37-0 last year, ending a five-game New Fairfield winning streak in the Candlewood Cup series.
“We knew last year was a fluke, for us, at least,” Buffington said; the Rebels finished 1-9 last season. “Our senior class, we knew it. This was our year. We turned the season around.”
There were no slouches on the Rebels’ losses; the four teams had three losses between them going into Wednesday night. Had they managed to flip their 18-14 loss to Bunnell, they might have had an outside shot at the Class M playoffs.
But at least in their last game, the Rebels made big plays on both sides of the ball and on special teams. They took a lead 1:48 into the game, when Stelios Lambropoulos blocked a punt and Hunter Billings took it 4 yards for a touchdown.
Will Enright ran for a touchdown and threw to T.J. Fata for another. And Buffington ran for four, including three in the second half.
“It’s the most exciting thing,” Buffington said. “It’s been an awesome season.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
New Fairfield senior Zach Buffington ran for 262 yards and four touchdowns, and had at least four tackles for a loss.
With frigid weather expected Thursday morning, the schools moved the game to 4 p.m. on Wednesday. Though the temperature remained above freezing, the game landed right in the middle of a line of precipitation that hit full-bore at halftime.
The snow squall made a pretty picture, but with the wind blowing sharply from the north straight across the field, it wasn’t much fun to be in.
When the Rebels lined up to receive the second-half kickoff, one deep returner shouted “I can’t see!” to the other. The kick bounced past them to the end zone.
NEW FAIRFIELD 48, NEW MILFORD 0
NEW MILFORD0 0 0 0— 0
NEW FAIRFIELD14 13 14 7—48
NF—Hunter Billings 4 blocked punt return (Will Enright kick)
NF—Zach Buffington 39 run (Enright kick)
NF—Enright 29 run (Enright kick)
NF—T.J. Fata 20 pass Enright (kick blocked)
NF—Buffington 52 run (Enright kick)
NF—Buffington 26 run (Enright kick)
NF—Buffington 39 run (Enright kick)
Records: New Milford 0-10; New Fairfield 6-4.