— John Pierson (@JPPierson) October 5, 2019
SHELTON — Shut out in the first half, Cheshire scored two touchdowns in a span of 61 seconds mid-way through the third quarter to take the lead for good in handing No. 5 Shelton a 24-12 defeat before about 1,200 at Finn Stadium Friday night.
The Rams ended Shelton’s 22-game regular-season winning streak that started after the Gaels lost to Cheshire in Week 1 of the 2017 season.
“We talked about it all week. They’re very good,” Cheshire coach Don Drust said. “But we knew if we just played really hard for 48 minutes, and we didn’t make mistakes…if you can stay away from those, it helps you win games like this. And we were able to do that.”
Trailing 7-0, the Rams (3-1) took the opening kickoff of the second half and played with purpose.
Senior quarterback Jason Shumilla completed all three of his passes, including a slant to senior wide out Alec Frione who ran the rest of the way for a 20-yard touchdown play.
Jotham Casey added the PAT to tie the score, 7-7.
The score didn’t stay tied for long.
Shelton quarterback Michael Callinan, just into the game in place of starter James Curley, tried to throw an out pattern on a 2nd-and-11 play from the Gaels 17.
But Frione stepped in front of the receiver for the interception and ran 22 yards untouched to complete the pick 6.
“I was just in the spot where I’m coached to be,” Frione said. “I did my job and we had great pressure up front.”
Casey’s PAT made it 14-7, Cheshire, with 6:31 left in the third quarter.
The Gaels pulled to within 14-10 on a Cristiano Rosa 26-yard field goal later in the quarter.
But Cheshire’s Jake McAlinden answered with an 80-yard return on the ensuing kickoff, leading to a Colby Griffin 3-yard touchdown run three plays later and a 21-10 Ram lead.
Cheshire, which hasn’t been to the playoffs since it won the Class LL title in 2009, added a 44-yard Casey field goal with 8:18 left in the game.
Shumilla ran out of his own end zone in the last minute of the game for a safety and two points for Shelton
Shelton is left to think about what could have been after dominating Cheshire in the first half, but only leading by a touchdown at halftime.
“I thought that was a big part of the game. We dominated the first half, and were only up 7-0 (at halftime). We could have very easily been up 14, even 17-0. We were moving the ball up and down the field,” Shelton coach Jeff Roy said. “We left them hanging around, and then they got momentum going in the third quarter.”
Shelton took the game’s opening kickoff and scored the only points of the first half.
A 52-yard pass from Curley to Chris Thompson on the game’s first play from scrimmage helped set up an 8-yard touchdown toss from Curley to Gavin Rohlman four plays later.
Rosa added the PAT for a 7-0 Shelton lead 2:22 into the game.
Both teams threatened but never scored the rest of the first half.
Rosa missed wide right on a 38-yard field goal attempt for the Gaels early in the second quarter.
The Rams drove down to the Gael 12-yard line before Shelton’s Jake Oddo picked off a Shumilla pass with 24 seconds left in the half.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Alec Frione, Cheshire. Frione, a senior wide receiver/defensive back, score two touchdowns — a 20-yard reception and 22-yard interception return — in 61 seconds to give Cheshire the lead for good. Frione caught five passes for 79 yards
“I’m a firm believer that when you are a tremendous, tremendous person first, good things happen. He is as good of a person…as you will ever meet in your life. He works so hard. He does all the right things off the field. He does all the right things on the field. And when you do all those things, good things happen to you. And that’s what happened for him tonight.” — Don Drust, Cheshire