CHESHIRE — Jack Lovelace and his Cheshire teammates were not satisfied with the way they were playing after one half. Despite winning by six points, the Rams felt they could have played better.
Lovelace and his team responded.
Scoring 20 third quarter points, led by an interception return for a touchdown by Lovelace, Cheshire rolled to a 40-13 victory over the Titans in a Division II contest at Alumni Field in Cheshire Friday evening.
“They have a great offense,” Lovelace said after his team improved to 7-1 and inched closer to securing the school’s first Class LL playoff berth since winning it all in 2009. “We know they have two key players on that offense in (Jordan) Davis and (Terrence) Bogan. We knew we had to stop them. We did just that. We made some mistakes in the first half and we knew we had to execute.”
Ahead by six points and with Sheehan driving, Lovelace stepped in front of an Anthony Castaldi pass and raced 40 yards for a touchdown and a 19-7 lead 1 minute, 32 seconds into the second half.
“It was a huge play,” Lovelace said. “We were getting pressure. Our defensive line is one of the best in the state. We got the pressure and I was able to clean it up.”
The interception by Lovelace was the first of three in the second half and four in the contest by the Rams. The Rams held Cheshire to just 60 yards of offense in the third quarter and used a 44-yard touchdown run by Jake McAlinden for a 26-7 lead with 3:10 left in the third.
Colby Griffin then picked off Castaldi on Sheehan’s next offensive play, before McAlinden scored Cheshire’s second touchdown in 23 seconds for a 33-7 advantage. McAlinden finished with 155 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries.
“My offensive line did a phenomenal job,” McAlinden said “We wanted to run the ball on them and we did a tremendous job doing that.”
For Sheehan, it was a case of not being able to get started on offense. While Bogan returned from injury to run for 123 yards, the Sheehan offense never got on track.
“It was just a case of we could not get going on offense,” Sheehan coach John Ferrazzi said after his team dropped its second straight and fell to 6-2. “We could not keep our offense on the field. It was a tough night on offense for us.”
For all of its first quarter dominance, in which Cheshire held a 113-24 yardage advantage, Sheehan was within one possession as the second half began. The Rams controlled play in the opening quarter and led 7-0 after 12 minutes.
Cheshire needed just three plays to go 63 yards for a 7-0 advantage, with the big play being a 7-yard pass play from quarterback Jason Shumilla to Alec Frione to the Sheehan 12. McAlinden scored on the next play to give the Rams the first strike with 6:34 left in the opening quarter.
“That is a good football team over there,” Cheshire coach Don Drust said. “We know what they are and what they were going to be. We needed to play 48 minutes.”
Containing the Titans in the opening quarter and holding Bogan to just 26 yards, Cheshire increased its lead to 13-0 to start the second quarter. The Rams needed seven plays to march 53 yards, including runs of 18 and 10 yards by McAlinden.
Christian Russo changed the pace for the Rams and scored from two yards out with 53 seconds gone by in the second quarter for a 13-point lead after the conversion failed.
The Titans, looking to avoid consecutive losses after falling to North Haven a week ago, got going in the second quarter by holding Cheshire to just 39 yards of offense.
Sheehan finally found the endzone to get within 13-7, needing three plays to go 40 yards. Bogan finished the short drive when he moved around the right edge, then found a seam to race 34 yards for the score with 5:02 remaining in the first half.
Shumilla hit Nick DiDomizio with a 40-yard scoring strike early in the fourth quarter for a 40-7 Cheshire lead, before Luke Rutkowski scored from 30 yards out for the Titans to cap the scoring.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jake McAlinden: Cheshire senior ran for 155 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries, while also coming up big defensively for the Rams.
“Our game plan was to stop those two players on offense. We felt if we did that, we were going to win the game.”
— Cheshire’s Jack Lovelace on containing Sheehan’s double threat of Jordan Davis and Terrence Bogan.