FAIRFIELD >> Fairfield Prep’s plan in its unbeaten SCC interdivisional clash with unbeaten Hillhouse was to, in the words of coach Keith Hellstern, weather the storm and punch back the way he believed his Jesuits could.
Hillhouse indeed struck with some lightning, but Fairfield Prep thundered away all night in an impressive 40-18 victory at Rafftery Stadium Friday night.
“I know it sounds clichéd that it’s never over, but it really never is over with Hillhouse,” said Hellstern, whose team is now 3-0 for the first time since 2006. “Those kids can score from anywhere on the field. Our kids needed to step up and I’m glad they did.”
Hillhouse’s Chase Kinzly went 80 yards on the opening kickoff to give Hillhouse a 6-0 lead. But Fairfield Prep never panicked and never wavered. Hillhouse could do nothing to stop quarterback Patrick Conte, a Yale commit who accounted for four, first-half touchdowns — three rushing — to put the Jesuits in control at halftime, 27-12.
“They’re an explosive football team and you’re going to get those kickoff returns, punt returns, those big, explosive plays that they score on,” Conte said of Hillhouse (2-1). “But we were grinding the whole time. We were pounding them — I don’t know — 7 or 8 yards a clip on that first drive and punched it in.
“I think offensively we finally caught our momentum.”
There were some other anxious moments for the Jesuits. Hillhouse later scored on Quintus Reid’s electric, zig-zagging 57-yard run and the Academics were inside the Prep 5, trailing 21-12 with just over 3 minutes remaining in the first half.
But the Academics fumbled on Prep’s 2-yard line and Harrison Houghton pounced on it, stealing all of Hillhouse’s momentum away.
Conte and Prep responded with a back-breaking 98-yard scoring drive, highlighted by a 43-yard strike from Conte to receiver Drew McAvey.
“We needed to kind of uncork the bottle, so to speak, on the offense,” said Hellstern, whose team had only scored 47 points in two games. “Patrick did a tremendous job for us in the first half.”
What finally stopped Conte was a left shoulder injury suffered when he scampered 12 yards for a touchdown to cap the 98-yard drive. It was same shoulder Conte broke a year ago and forced him to miss half of his junior year. He did not return in the second half.
Conte insisted his shoulder was nothing to worry about and that he’d be back for Fairfield Prep’s showdown with Notre Dame-West Haven next week.
“It’s just bruised,” he said. “It’s nothing really. I’ll be fine. We have a lot of confidence in (backup) Will Lucas so… why?”
On cue Lucas came in and launched a 38-yard touchdown strike to 6-foot-7 end Bobby Haskins, who brushed off a tackler and raced into the end zone for a 33-12 Prep lead. Previously, Haskins had set up another touchdown with a tip-toe, sideline catch. He finished with five catches for 110 yards.
“Bob had an unbelievable game,” Conte said. “He came out of his shell tonight. That’s a D-1 player right there.”
The Jesuits led by as much as 40-12 when Hillhouse struck one, final time on an 83-yard catch and run by Kinzly. But it wasn’t going to matter on this night.
Fairfield Prep’s defense put in another strong performance. It forced four turnovers (two fumbles, two interceptions) and only allowed one offensive touchdown when the game was still in doubt.
“We were swarming to the ball and I was very pleased with our four turnovers tonight,” Hellstern said.
Hillhouse, which had come into the game averaging over 300 yards on the ground, was limited to a mere 140 on 23 carries.
“We just didn’t execute tonight,” Hillhouse coach Reggie Lytle said. “Turnovers killed us. We just got to get back to the table and work a little harder.”
FAIRFIELD PREP 40, HILLHOUSE 18
HILLHOUSE 6 6 0 6—18
FAIRFIELD PREP 14 13 6 7—40
H—Chase Kinzly 80 kickoff return (kick failed)
P—Drew McAvey 17 pass from Patrick Conte (Andrew Hickey kick)
P— Conte 3 run (Hickey kick)
H—Quintus Reid 57 run (kick failed)
P—Conte 12 run (Hickey kick)
P—Conte 12 run (kick blocked)
P—Bobby Haskins 38 pass from Will Lucas (kick blocked)
P—Dillon Mirabile 9 run (Hickey kick)
H—Kinzly 82 pass from Henderson (pass failed)
Records: Fairfield Prep 3-0, Hillhouse 2-1