FAIRFIELD — It came down to one last play, one last chance for Notre Dame-Fairfield to again rally from a deficit and change defeat into a thrilling victory.
With less than a minute left, in a game that had gone back and forth from the opening kickoff, the Lancers stared at a fourth-and-10 from its own 40, needing a touchdown to cap the comeback. The set play broke apart. Quarterback Micah Brantley scrambled.
A receiver was open near the goal line. Brantley threw …
The ball fell just out of reach of its intended target and Joel Barlow took two knees to run out the clock and capture a 32-27 victory over Notre Dame-Fairfield Saturday afternoon.
“I told them I felt they were trying to kill me,” Joel Barlow coach Rob Tynan said, slapping at his heart. “That was an exciting football game. I told the team and the coaches, we went through a preseason where we hadn’t faced any adversity and I wondered how this group would react to it and that was the mark of a good team, they showed up and faced it and that pitch, on that last play, that’s a senior captain making a hell of a play without much there.”
That play, a 27-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-2 situation from the Lancers 27 with just over two minutes to play, turned a one-point ND-Fairfield advantage into a five-point Barlow lead. Quarterback Trevor Furrer raced toward the right sideline, and at the last second, pitched the ball to Henry Shaban, who had some open ground and went untouched into the end zone.
“We had been running that play over and over again and each time that corner had come a little closer and a little closer in and I felt like if I could just hold on until the last second I might be able to get it off and I did,” Furrer said. “Thankfully it worked out.”
It seemed like everything worked out for Furrer, who worked the Barlow option offense to perfection. Not only did he run 27 times for 171 yards, overall the Falcons offense generated 333 yards on the ground on 52 carries.
“That’s why he’s a senior captain,” Tynan said of Furrer. “We expect that from him. He gutted it out. He was a little tired. He picked it up when we needed him the most and he made a pitch when most quarterbacks would have gone down and he got us the win.”
Notre Dame had taken a 7-0 lead when Micah Brantley hooked up with Jeremy Reid on a 34-yard touchdown pass with 3:47 left in the first quarter. After recovering am off-sides kick, ND-Fairfield quickly pushed the margin to 14-0 as Brantley – who completed 11 of 21 passes for 180 yards and three TDs – found Josh Tracey for a 25-yard touchdown pass with 2:27 left in the quarter.
Barlow got a 11-yard touchdown run from Alex Stillman with 36 seconds left in the quarter to cut the ND lead to 14-7 – the start of 20 straight points from the Falcons as Shaban scored on a 17-yard run in the second quarter and Stillman scored in the third quarter to give Barlow a 20-14 lead.
Brantley – who threw for 180 yards and rushed for 34 – tossed a 43-yard touchdown pass to Tavon Simpson with 5:02 left in the third quarter to tie the game at 20-20 and after Furrer scored on a keeper to put Barlow back on top 26-20, Brantley scored to give the Lancers a 27-26 lead with just 7:23 to play.
“He does a lot for us,” Sadler said of Brantley. “He’s got a great arm. He understands the passing game a lot better. When you have his speed at the high school level you can do a lot with your legs too. It creates a lot of issues for opposing defenses. He was cramping up a little, so it was tough to move the pocket.”
Leading 27-26, Barlow went 65 yards in 11 plays, all on the ground, to take the lead as Furrer set up the game-changing fourth-and-2 play, pitching to Shaban and watching him take it to the house.
“I think there was definitely a solid effort on both sides of the ball,” Sadler said. “There was a lot of emotion and I think at times, the emotion got the best of us. We have to clean that up. Hats off to Barlow, I knew coming in that they were really good and they showed today hoe dominant they could be on offense when the options clicking for them.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Barlow QB Trevor Furrer who rushed 27 times for 171 yards and a touchdown in the Falcons’ win. He ran the Barlow option offense to perfection and with just 2:05 left to play, pitched to Henry Shaban for a 27-yard game winning touchdown.
Notre Dame-Fairfield’s Micah Brantley. The Lancers QB rushed for 37 yards and completed 11 of 21 passes for 180 yards and three touchdowns.
“Great team performance. The line did a great job. We did a great job reading our keys, blocking the right man. We picked each other up.” – Barlow QB Trevor Furrer
JOEL BARLOW 32, ND-FAIRFIELD 27
JOEL BARLOW 7 6 12 6—32
ND-FAIRFIELD 14 0 6 7—27
- ND – Jeremey Reid, 34-yard pass from Micah Brantley (Gianni Franco kick)
- ND – Josh Tracey, 25-yard pass from Brantley (Franco kick)
- B – Alex Stillman, 11-yard run (Michael Puglio kick)
- B – Henry Shaban, 17-yard run (kick failed)
- B – Stillman, 1-yard run (kick blocked)
- ND – Tavon Simpson, 12-yard pass from Brantley (kick failed)
- B – Trevor Furrer, 15-yard run (pass failed)
- ND – Brantley, 6-yard run (Franco kick)
- B – Shaban, 27-yard run (run failed)
- Records: Barlow (1-0); ND-Fairfield (0-1)