FAIRFIELD — Next week Fairfield Prep hosts North Haven in a showdown of one-loss teams and looming further on the horizon is a Thanksgiving rivalry game against West Haven.
Given those facts Friday night’s game against Harding had all the ingredients for a potential trap game for Prep.
Instead, the Jesuits pulled away late in the second quarter to win 49-6 at Rafferty Stadium. The victory helps Prep (7-1) keep pace in the Class LL playoff standings.
“Playing them last year was a hard fought game,” said Jesuits senior receiver Finn Duran, who caught a pair of touchdowns. “We know that every team is going to give us their best.”
A year ago the Jesuits eked out a 12-8 victory against their former MBIAC rivals and both teams felt a similar performance could unfold Friday night.
“You have to have a short memory during the game when things go poorly and a long memory when you’re plotting for an opponent,” Jesuits’ coach Keith Hellstern said.
Although Harding fumbled the opening kickoff — setting up a short Zachary Sheehan touchdown run — throughout the first quarter it looked like the Presidents might repeat their 2017 effort against the Jesuits.
Quarterback Kevin Bednarz moved the ball with his legs and also connected with receivers Isaiah Hanley and Marcell Robinson for quick gains on the outside.
Down 14-0 on a Douglas Harrison touchdown run, Harding looked to be back in it when Robinson raced up the right sideline for an 85-yard return.
That momentum was short-lived.
Jesuits’ senior T. J. Walton answered on the ensuing kickoff, taking it 75 yards up the middle to make it 21-6 in the span of 12 seconds. Walton also added a 51-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
“They took all the momentum at that point,” Harding coach Eddie Santiago said. “We have to continue to fight. We definitely can hang in the SCC. We thought we came up with a good, solid gameplan. A couple botched snaps and it went the other way. You can’t give up field position to Fairfield Prep. They’re a good team.”
Prep quickly inflated its lead to 42-6 before halftime. Quarterback John Iaropoli settled into a groove, completing three straight attempts for touchdowns — two to Duran and one to Max McGillicuddy — to break it open. The second score to Duran was a 45-yard strike over the top of the Presidents’ defense.
“Last year for us it was a very tight game,” Hellstern said. “They had a lot of those kids back so I was not going to underestimate Harding. You have to be careful.”
Robinson added a late interception for Harding, which dropped to 3-5.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
T.J. Walton, Fairfield Prep — The Senior did a little bit of everything, piling up over 100 total yards along with a game-changing 75-yard kickoff return for one of his two scores.
Before kickoff Fairfield Prep honored Bob Skoronski, a 1951 graduate of the school who died Tuesday at age 84. The Ansonia native anchored the Green Bay Packers offensive line in the 1950s and 60s, playing in the first two Super Bowls.
“We knew what Finn (Duran) was. He’s an all-state receiver. We had some younger guys at the corner position that have to grow up pretty fast. When you step onto a varsity field and you’re not ready, you know, they saw we had a young guy and they attacked it.” — Harding coach Eddie Santiago on his team’s loss to Fairfield Prep.
FAIRFIELD PREP 49, HARDING 6
HARDING 0 6 0 0—6
FAIRFIELD PREP 7 35 7 0—49
FP—Zachary Sheehan 3 run (Murray McCarthy kick)
FP—Douglas Harrison 3 run (McCarthy kick)
H—Marcell Robinson 85 kickoff return (pass failed)
FP—TJ Walton 75 kickoff return (McCarthy kick failed)
FP—Finn Duran 8 pass John Iaropoli (Duran pass Iaropoli)
FP—Duran 45 pass Iaropoli (McCarthy kick)
FP—Max McGillicuddy 32 pass Iaropoli (McCarthy kick)
FP—Walton 51 run (McCarthy kick)
Records: Harding 3-5; Fairfield Prep 7-1