WALLINGFORD >> On the eve of their final game, the eight Sheehan seniors were the center of attention in an emotional ceremony held in their honor. On a chilly Thanksgiving Day morning, they found themselves taking the lead one last time.
During an action-packed second quarter, the veterans and leaders stepped to the forefront with a series of pivotal plays as the host Titans defeated city rival Lyman Hall 54-7 to clinch the program’s first winning season since 2008.
Tailback Rafael Dominguez had scoring runs of 4 and 48 yards to go over the 1,000-yard mark as a senior; Jordan Lytle forced a fumble, which set up the first of the scoring runs by Dominguez; Jeremy Gannon tossed a pair of touchdown passes and Brandon Gauthier had a scintillating 76-yard touchdown reception on a seemingly harmless middle screen as Sheehan finished the season on a five-game winning streak.
“It means the most to us because we are a family, we are a brotherhood, so we will remember this win forever,” said Gauthier, who also had a game-high eight tackles. “That is a bond you can’t break; we are best friends forever. We have a lot of heart and we have been battling, and coming out with a winning record means the most to us.”
Gannon gave the Titans the lead on a 3-yard touchdown run on Sheehan’s first possession.
Lyman Hall (2-9) was hanging tough and driving for the game-tying score in the latter stages of the first quarter. A third-down run had the Trojans within the shadow of the end zone, but it was wiped out due to a holding penalty.
Junior running back Justin Brown, who ran 14 times for 58 yards, attempted a halfback option pass. Sheehan’s Bobby Carey intercepted the ball and raced 96 yards for the score. Three plays later, Lytle jarred the ball loose from Smith to set up the short TD run by Dominguez and the Titans were rolling in the 42nd annual Carini Bowl.
“We are in a 7-0 ballgame and we are running the football, we get inside the red zone and we get a holding call on third-and-short that backed us up and stalled the drive,” Lyman Hall coach Rob Marone said.
“Sheehan has a lot of firepower. I don’t know what the final score would have been in this game if we would have come out ahead of them, or anything like that, but from a mental standpoint, it would have been nice standing toe-to-toe at 7-7 or 14-14. We certainly had that chance but didn’t get it done and the rout was on from there.”
Sheehan ran just eight offensive plays in the second quarter, but had 210 yards of total offense and four scoring plays of at least 46 yards in the quarter, including Gannon’s 46-yard scoring strike to Carey.
“We gameplan to be explosive,â€ Sheehan coach John Ferrazzi said. “Sometimes we grind it out and other times we have the ability of scoring, and things just worked today.”
Bruce Rutkowski had a 40-yard scoring run and Nolan Cloutier a 50-yard touchdown run in the third quarter for Sheehan (6-5).
Dominguez went over the 1,000-yard rushing mark during the first half and Lytle set a Sheehan single-season record with his 52nd solo tackle.
Koby Mensah, who ran for 87 yards, had the only score for Lyman Hall (2-9) on a 27-yard run in the third quarter. Dan Calcagni had a team-high four tackles.
SHEEHAN 54, LYMAN HALL 7
Lyman Hall 0 0 7 0-7
Sheehan 7 34 13 0-54
S-Jeremy Gannon 3 run (Brandon Gauthier kick)
S-Bobby Carey 96 interception return (Gauthier kick)
S-Raphael Dominguez 4 run (Gauthier kick)
S-Gauthier 76 pass from Gannon (Gauthier kick)
S-Dominguez 48 run (Gauthier kick)
S-Carey 46 pass from Gannon (kick failed)
S-Bruce Rutkowski 40 run (Gauthier kick)
S-Nolan Cloutier 50 run (kick failed)
L-Koby Mensah 27 run (John Wilk kick)
Records; L 2-9; S 6-5