NEW CANAAN >> Notre Dame-West Haven has boasted a tough defense all season along, allowing more than 18 points just once.
But on Monday night, the Green Knights just couldn’t do much of anything defensively against New Canaan quarterback Michael Collins.
The senior set the single-season state record for touchdown passes as No. 6 New Canaan defeated seventh-seeded Notre Dame 51-27 at Dunning Field.
“It was emotional coming out here knowing it was our last game (at home),” Collins said. “It was great for the seniors to get a last home game. I’m happy about that. I couldn’t be happier.”
Collins finished 32 of 44 for 440 yards and five touchdowns for the Rams (10-1). His fourth touchdown was No. 52, the record breaker.
“We couldn’t get to (Collins),” Notre Dame coach Tom Marcucci said. “They’re good. I’m proud of my guys the way they played. We competed, but we couldn’t stop them.
New Canaan will be playing in its 15th state final Saturday against top-seeded North Haven at West Haven High at 2:30 p.m. The Rams will be attempting to win their 11th state championship.
“The goal every year is to try and get to that game,” New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli said. “I’m proud of these kids after a devastating loss to Darien (on Thanksgiving).”
Collins’ fourth touchdown, a 37-yard stroke to Peter Swindell, came in the third quarter and put New Canaan up 37-14. Collins now has 53.
“He is certainly one of the best we’ve had,” Marinelli said. “He’s worked very hard to get where he is. … If he is not the best in the state, I don’t know who is.”
Kyle Smith caught 16 passes for a game-high 221 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Smith had 160 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. He also intercepted Notre Dame quarterback Christian Lupoli (16 of 29, 200 yards) as the Green Knights attempted to drive in for a late first-half touchdown.
Nico Ragaini scored all four touchdowns for the Green Knights (8-3), including an 80-yard end around and a 58-yard reception from Lupoli. He finished with 10 catches for 149 yards.
“This had to be one of the best teams we played,” Marinelli said. “Darien was the best, they were the next best. They are extremely well coached. They deserve an awful lot of credit, to come down here and play in this atmosphere and do what they did. They just kept coming and coming.”
Now the Rams will try to beat North Haven like they did two years ago in the Class L semifinals.
“They are tough kids like Notre Dame-West Haven,” Marinelli said. “We are going to have our hands full. They like to control the ball, run that ugly offense, and they do it as well as anybody. Now we will have to call up all over the place to figure out how to defend it again. (North Haven’s) Anthony Sagnella is one of the best coaches around.”
New Canaan 44, Notre Dame-West Haven 27
(at New Canaan)
Notre Dame-West Haven 0 14 0 13 — 27
New Canaan 14 17 13 7 — 44
NCA—Kyle Smith 79 pass from Michael Collins (Peter Swindell kick)
NCA—Kyle Smith 6 pass from Michael Collins (Swindell kick)
NDWH—Nico Ragaini 7 pass from Christian Lupoli (Jared Gallbronner kick)
NCA—Matt Cognetta 75 kickoff ret (Swindell kick)
NCA—Peter Swindell 42 FG
NDWH—Nico Ragaini 2 run ()
NCA—Kyle Smith 23 pass from Michael Collins (Swindell kick)
NCA—Peter Swindell 37 pass from Michael Collins (kick failed)
NCA—Kyle Smith 12 pass from Michael Collins (Swindell kick)
NDWH—Nico Ragaini 58 pass from Christian Lupoli (Gallbronner kick)
NCA—Graham Braden 9 run (Swindell kick)
NDWH—Nico Ragaini 80 run (Gallbronner kick)
Team records: New Canaan 10-1; Notre Dame-West Haven 8-3