Cheshire’s Michael Jeffery(4) attempts to slip from the clutches of Fairfield Prep defender Brendan Roberts in the Rams 10-0 win over the Jesuits Friday evening.-John Vanacore/New Haven Register
CHESHIRE >> In a classic defensive struggle, Cheshire managed to make just a few more plays in its SCC Tier I clash with Fairfield Prep on Friday.
Led by junior Nick Nelson, who recovered two fumbles, and senior Josh Frenkel, who made an interception, the host Rams emerged with a 10-0 victory at Alumni Field at the Maclary Athletic Complex.
“We don’t like Fairfield Prep and they don’t like us,” Nelson said. “So, we really wanted to come out and get this win. The defense really stepped up and played real well.”
The game was scoreless at halftime and continued that way until junior quarterback Jack Raba connected with senior Mike Millea on a 20-yard touchdown pass on a broken play with 2:13 left in the third quarter. Millea was left pretty much wide open and caught the ball in the back of the end zone near the sideline.
“Once I broke the pocket — it was kind of a broken down play — I just got my eyes up field and I saw Mike,” Raba said. “He did a great of finding a space and getting into the end zone. It made my job easy, I just had to put it to him out there and he made the catch.”
On the possession following the game’s only touchdown, Fairfield Prep sophomore Doug Harrison (15 carries, 103 yards) ripped off a 51-yard run — the longest play of the night by the Jesuits — which brought the ball to the Cheshire 21-yard line. Fairfield Prep (4-2) would eventually reach the 14 before turning the ball over on downs on a 4th-and-3. It was that kind of night for the Jesuits, who struggled to find any kind of offensive rhythm throughout.
“They did a good job,” Fairfield Prep coach Keith Hellstern said about the Cheshire defense. “We were a little out of sync, we didn’t really get into rhythm most of the game. We’re still trying to figure some things out because of our health and what not at that position (quarterback).”
Fairfield Prep junior Will Lucas got the start at quarterback after missing the Jesuits’ previous game against Hamden on Oct. 7 due to injury. Senior quarterback Patrick Conte hasn’t played since leaving the game with a shoulder injury against Hillhouse on Sept. 23. Conte was in uniform and participated in warm-ups Friday but did not play.
“He’s not ready to go,” Hellstern said. “Hopefully next week.”
Junior Ethan Bronson kicked a 30-yard field goal to give the Rams (5-1) a 10-0 lead with just 2:17 remaining. Bronson missed one field goal, had another blocked and also had a punt blocked. Both blocks were made by Fairfield Prep senior Bobby Haskins, who also returned from injury this week.
“He (Haskins) played well on defense,” Hellstern said.
Raba hasn’t played since the first half of a loss against West Haven on Sept. 30. Raba said he’s been recovering from a slightly torn meniscus. Raba completed 20 of 32 passes for 205 yards, one touchdown and one interception against Jesuits.
“It’s great to be back out here running around,” Raba said.
Millea caught eight passes for 75 yards, while sophomore running back Elijah Allston rushed 18 times for 84 yards and caught two passes for 40 yards.
But the night belonged to the Cheshire defense.
“I’m so proud of those guys,” Cheshire coach Don Drust said. “They played really hard against a pretty big, physical football team. They just stayed at it. They kept working, they kept playing and running 11 guys to the football.”
Fairfield Prep turned the ball over three times to the Rams’ one.
“In games, especially in the SCC Division I, turnovers win football games,” Drust said. “If you win the turnover, most of the time you’re going to win football games.”
Cheshire 10, Fairfield Prep 0
Fairfield Prep 0 0 0 0 — 0
Cheshire 0 0 7 3 — 10
C—Mike Millea 20 pass from Jack Raba (Ethan Bronson kick)
C—Ethan Bronson 30 FG
Team records: Cheshire 5-1; Fairfield Prep 4-2