SHELTON >> Somehow, someway, Shelton senior David Wells found a way.
Late in the third quarter Wells dropped back to pass on a 2nd-and-15 at their own 10. The pocket collapsed, and several Notre Dame-West Haven defenders had a hand on Wells’ jersey. Not only did Wells escape the pass rush, but he bolted 90 yards for a touchdown to put the Gaels up for good.
“They missed a tackle and I just found a wide open hole and hit it,” Wells said.
Wells added another rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter and Shelton, ranked third in the Register Top 10 Poll, hung on for a 33-21 victory over the Green Knights in an SCC Tier I contest at Finn Stadium.
“That was big,” Wells said about his long touchdown run. “Our team was a little down right there and that was huge for the momentum boost.”
In the series prior Wells’ great escape, Notre Dame (0-2) took a 21-20 lead on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Chris Elias to Justin Morehead.
“The game was long plays and penalties,” Notre Dame coach Tom Marcucci said. “That’s really what it came down to. We gave up a long pass play to start the game and another one on a flea flicker that put us down 14, and then the quarterback made a great run. We had him in the backfield. I think that was the key to the game.”
Wells connected with senior Anthony Schiavo on a 36-yard touchdown pass for Shelton on the game’s opening possession.
After the Gaels (2-0) couldn’t convert on a fake punt attempt, the Green Knights drove 65 yards on nine plays, capped by a 26-yard touchdown pass from Elias to senior Nico Ragaini to tie the game at 7.
In the second quarter, Wells handed off to Schiavo, who pitched backed to Wells and then hit senior Joe Zoppi on a 42-yard touchdown pass on a flea flicker to put Shelton up 14-7. Later in the quarter, senior Jon Sobotka scored on a 27-yard run, but Zoppi’s extra point was blocked and the Gaels led 20-7 at halftime.
After the intermission, a 16-yard touchdown run by senior Josh Witkowsky brought Notre Dame to within 20-14 before the Elias-to-Morehead touchdown gave the Green Knights the lead with 32 second left in the third quarter. The latter touchdown came after Notre Dame recovered a fumble.
Witkowsky carried 26 times for 118 yards and one touchdown. Elias completed 23-of-36 passes for 216 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, while Ragaini caught 10 passes for 109 yards and one score. Notre Dame lost a hard-fought 26-21 decision to Bishop Hendricken (R.I.) last week.
“I thought we fought like hell,” Marcucci said. “We’ve been in a battle two weeks in a row. Physical games. I thought our kids came up big in terms of Witkowsky running great, Elias threw the ball well and we made catches, and Nico was banged up and he came back and he made plays. We’re 0-2, but we’re pretty good. I am proud of the way they battled.”
Wells completed 13 of 24 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns and rushed nine times for 122 yards and two scores.
After taking a 33-21 lead, the Gaels made a goal line stand with 3:20 remaining. Shelton coach Jeff Roy was pleased with how his team responded after Notre Dame went ahead.
“I was really proud of them,” Roy said. “We could’ve folded. We faced adversity there. Even though we had that (20-7) lead at halftime, they came back. We had the fumble over there and, the next thing you know, we’re down 21-20. The kids didn’t blink an eye. They just kept playing hard and made the plays in that fourth quarter to win us a football game.”
Shelton 33, Notre Dame-West Haven 21
Notre Dame-West Haven 7 0 14 0 0 — 21
Shelton 7 13 6 7 0 — 33
S—Anthony Schiavo 36 pass from David Wells (Joe Zoppi kick)
N—Nico Ragaini 26 pass from Christopher Elias (Jared Gallbronner kick)
S—Joe Zoppi 42 pass from David Wells (Zoppi kick)
S—Jon Sobotka 27 pass from (kick blocked)
N—Joshua Witkowsky 16 run (Gallbronner kick)
N—Justin Morehead 4 pass from Christopher Elias (Gallbronner kick)
S—David Wells 90 run (pass failed)
S—David Wells 1 run (Zoppi kick)
Team records: Shelton 2-0; Notre Dame-West Haven 0-2