STRATFORD — With starting quarterback Tyler Phommachanh out with an injury, Bunnell coach Sean Mignone didn’t want to throw sophomore backup quarterback Brian Carafiello into the fire with a diverse offensive set.
He made things simple … the Bulldogs were going to run the football. Then run it some more. And after that? Keep running it.
Bunnell ran through the Notre Dame-Fairfield defense like a hot knife through butter, unofficially amassing 378 yards rushing en route to a 42-7 romp over the Lancers on Friday night.
Jarrod Davis broke through the ND line for a 60-yard touchdown run on the game’s first play and Bunnell never looked back, posting 35 unanswered points after the Lancers had answered that score with a touchdown of their own.
“We had to try and set the tone right away,” said Davis, who had 112 yards on just nine carries. “We wanted to come out and hit them hard.”
Along with Davis, Ja’len Madison added 120 yards on 10 carries, Christ N’dabian had 60 yards on four carries and Ma’Kai Curry had 69 yards on seven carries.
“Our (offensive) line really set the tone,” Mignone said. “Our line had a rough week last week (losing to Hand 34-6) and we pretty much let them know that was not acceptable. They came out, first play set the tone and the momentum was ours and we never let it go.”
Notre Dame-Fairfield did answer that opening burst by the Bulldogs, going 80 yards in nine plays, capped by a 15-yard touchdown pass from Micah Brantley to Josh Tracey to make it 7-7 with 4:39 left in the first quarter. However, on the ensuing kickoff, Madison went 70 yards for the touchdown to put the Bulldogs back in front.
Two plays. Two touchdowns. Total time elapsed — 20 seconds.
“It’s pretty easy when as an offense you have one offensive play and you’re ahead,” Mignone said. “We preached all week that we have to jump out early against these guys. This was a must-win for us.”
And the Bulldogs made sure that they never took the foot off the gas. The kickoff return was part of 35 unanswered points by Bunnell, which improved to 4-2 overall. Notre Dame, meanwhile, lost for the second straight time, falling to 3-3. In the last two games, the Lancers have given up 100 points.
“It was just one (running) back after another. It didn’t matter who they handed the ball off to tonight, they were all making plays,” Lancers coach Chris Sadler said. “I think their speed got to us a little bit. We tried to overcompensate … when they weren’t beating us outside, the cutback lanes were open and they took advantage of it.”
And while Bunnell was piling up the yardage on the ground, Notre Dame-Fairfield was forced to try to get back into game via the pass. And that didn’t work. Brantley was just 10 of 28 for 137 yards. Overall, the Lancers were held to 76 yards rushing.
“There were some things offensively we thought were there, we took advantage of some of them but we’d miss a receiver or they wouldn’t run the correct route,” Sadler said. “We couldn’t finish a lot of the drives that we actually got started.”
Finish was all Bunnell did. The Bulldogs had 10 runs of 11 yards or more and four of their touchdowns came on plays of 25 yards or longer.
Carafiello had a 25-yard scoring pass to James Savko, Madison had a 26-yard TD run, Tyrek Smith had a 19-yard touchdown run and Madison added a 12-yard TD run as part of that 35-straight-point explosion.
“We knew our quarterback was injured and we had to step up for him,” Davis said. “We knew we had to run the football to get the win.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Bunnell junior Ja’len Madison. He rushed for 120 yards on 10 carries — that’s 12 yards a carry, people, and he scored touchdowns on runs of 26 and 12 yards. He also returned a kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown.
Jarrod Davis. The Bulldogs senior went 60 yards for a touchdown on the game’s first play and he finished with 112 yards on nine carries — an even better 12.4 yards per carry as Bunnell rushed for 378 yards.
“They definitely did (dominate us); their offensive line did a heck of a job creating holes for those guys and when you give those guys room, they’re going to make plays.” — ND coach Chris Sadler on Bunnell.
BUNNELL 42, NOTRE DAME 7
ND-FAIRFIELD 7 0 0 0 — 7
BUNNELL 14 21 7 0 — 42
B — Jarrod Davis, 60-yard run (Avery Nunn kick)
ND — Josh Tracey, 15-yard pass Micah Brantley (Gianni Frango kick)
B — Ja’len Madison, 70-yard kickoff return (Nunn kick)
B — James Savko, 25-yard pass from Brian Carafiello (Nunn kick)
B — Madison, 26-yard run (Nunn kick)
B — Tyreek Smith, 19-yard run (Nunn kick)
B — Madison, 12-yard run (Nunn kick)
Records: ND-Fairfield (3-3); Bunnell (4-2)