— John Pierson (@JPPierson) September 14, 2019
NORTH HAVEN — They may be deep, but they’re young in some spots, and Fairfield Prep needed a while to get everything clicking at North Haven’s Vanacore Field on Friday night to open the football season.
The Jesuits made big plays and beat North Haven 14-7, coming back after surrendering a touchdown on North Haven’s first drive.
“With a young team like we have, they grew up a little bit tonight, and they had to,” Jesuits coach Keith Hellstern said. “It wasn’t pretty at times. We have a lot to clean up, but I believe in our young men and our coaching staff.”
North Haven came up empty on a long drive in the second quarter, and John Keresey blocked a field goal that might’ve put the Indians up 10-0 after North Haven marched for nearly seven minutes down to the Jesuits’ 4.
“The mistakes, we have to work on eliminating,” North Haven coach Anthony Sagnella said. “We had two opportunities to score, and we didn’t.”
In the fourth quarter, deep in Fairfield Prep territory with the game tied, Jesuits quarterback J.P. Iaropoli found Max McGillicuddy coming back for a third-down conversion that sparked the winning drive.
— Michael Fornabaio (@fornabaioctp) September 14, 2019
“(Iaropoli) was scrambling, and I saw him look at me,” McGillicuddy said. “I saw the linebacker guarding me, and I knew he was slowing down. There was no one in front of me. He turned it up, and we got the first down.”
An encroachment penalty on fourth down at midfield kept that drive alive for Kyle Vaccarella’s 2-yard touchdown run with 5:02 to go.
After the field-goal block, another encroachment penalty on third-and-short had kept the Jesuits’ ensuing drive alive. Iaropoli hit McGillicuddy over the middle to set up Sean Nelson’s 2-yard tying touchdown.
The Indians’ offense moved efficiently at times. Corey Hooks ran for 145 yards on 27 carries. Max Augustine’s 9-yard touchdown run opened the scoring with 5:38 left in the first quarter.
“It’s a hard place to play, and it’s a hard offense to prepare for anytime,” Hellstern said. “Early in the season, it’s kind of a Catch-22. They may not be at full speed, but you also don’t have a sense for all the personnel.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Max McGillicuddy caught five passes from J.P. Iaropoli for 83 yards, and a couple of those receptions were at huge moments.
The total cramp delays in the second half might have lasted longer than the first quarter.
It was, granted, kind of a sneaky-muggy night even though it wasn’t all that hot, but “we have a nutrition issue that we have to address,” Sagnella said.
The Indians had a lot more players going both ways, which no doubt didn’t help.
“They played hard,” Hellstern said. “Coach Sagnella always does a great job, and so does his staff.”
North Haven played without senior Albert Hooks. Sagnella called him week-to-week with a leg injury.
“Especially when our guys play both sides of the ball, when you lose Albert, you have to replace Albert on offense, defense and the kicking game,” Sagnella said. “He tried to go late in the week and just couldn’t run on it. Maybe next week; we’ll see. He’s a good player.”
“Physical game. We have a history with them. I wasn’t surprised the game went that way. I give them credit, being able to come back like that and control the line of scrimmage late in the game. I felt we played very hard, very spirited, very emotional, but we made way too many mistakes, things we can correct. When we do, we can be a very good football team.” —North Haven coach Anthony Sagnella