St. Joseph may have resuscitated its season.
Written off and out of the state’s top 10 following two losses and the temporary loss of its best player, St. Joseph returned its name to the statewide mix Saturday with a thrilling 28-27 victory over New Canaan.
Drama defined this one. After New Canaan — ranked No. 2 in the state and seventh in the latest ESPNBoston.com New England poll — tied the game at 21-all in the fourth quarter, Pat Mulligan returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown to put St. Joseph back up a score. But New Canaan clawed back again with a 10-yard touchdown pass with two seconds left to make it 28-27. But they too were dashed when St. Joseph’s Jerry Kramer broke up the potential game-winning two-point conversion pass attempt.
When the dust settled, St. Joseph pumped new life into its playoff hopes following early-season losses to Wilton and Darien.
Tyler Matakevich, who missed the first five games with a broken bone in his right foot, rushed seven times for 26 yards and a touchdown. But the emotional lift of his return and defensive play couldn’t be measured.
New Canaan (5-1) had outscored its previous opponents, 237-21. Those five foes also had combined for just three wins before the weekend.
In other games:
Top-ranked Xavier, the No. 3 team in the ESPNBoston.com New England poll, held off Shelton, 14-7, Friday thanks to Jovan Santos’ strip of Shelton quarterback Jonathan Groth with 30 seconds to play inside Xavier’s 10-yard line. It was just another drag-it-out victory for Xavier (6-0) in the Southern Connecticut Conference, which is proving itself again as the best league in the state.
Another day, another blowout: Masuk-Monroe, ranked sixth by ESPNBoston.com in New England, routed Weston, 56-7, on Friday. Masuk (6-0) has now outscored its six opponents, 288-21, though Friday marked its first 50-point game of the year after five 40-point efforts. If Xavier wasn’t so good at winning the close ones, it’d be difficult to find a team more deserving of the state’s top ranking than Masuk.
No. 7 West Haven (6-0) continued defending Class LL champion Cheshire’s hard-luck fall from grace this season with a 34-29 victory on Friday. Cheshire has now lost four straight, but every loss came to a team that is or has been ranked in the New Haven Register’s state top 10 this season. And they’ve come by a combined 13 points. Ouch.
If it wasn’t for St. Joseph’s thriller, Stamford’s 27-19 victory over No. 6 Trumbull would have been the state’s most notable upset. Bryant Boderick completed 14-of-26 passes for 280 yards, rushed for a touchdown and threw the game-sealing score 54 yards to Chandler Foster. After starting the season with losses to Ridgefield and Greenwich, Stamford (4-2) has now won four straight. Bridgeport Central (4-2) — which fell to Trumbull, 34-12, on Oct. 8 — visits Friday.
An unusual scheduling choice didn’t keep Darien from staying perfect. Chris Allam rushed for a touchdown and threw a 50-yard score to Clay Barker to help rally Darien (6-0) past visiting Red Lion Christian Academy (Bear, Del.), 21-20, on Saturday. Graham Maybell’s six-yard run was the game-winner. Red Lion quarterback David Sills, an eighth-grader, has already verbally committed to USC.
Wethersfield joined the ranks of 6-0 teams with a 55-21 victory over Fermi. Steve Vasques threw for 90 yards and rushed for another 100.
Josh Clements threw for three touchdowns and New London — forgotten by some following a Week 1 loss to Montville — won its fifth straight, a 47-21 rout of previously unbeaten Fitch at the Coast Guard Academy on Saturday. New London hasn’t played a true home game yet his year as its field is being replaced, and yet, has beaten Waterford (in Waterford) in a game that was counted as a Whalers home game and now Fitch, which knocked Montville from the state rankings.
And finally, East Haven ended the fourth-longest losing streak in state history on Friday with a 42-14 win over Platt Tech. The Easties hadn’t won since Thanksgiving Day 2006, a span of 36 games and three winless seasons.
CIAC PLAYOFF POINTS STANDINGS:
(Top eight teams in each division make playoffs)
1. Norwich Free Academy (6-0) 128.33
2. Xavier (6-0) 126.67
3. Hall (6-0) 126.67
4. Staples (6-0) 121.67
5. West Haven (6-0) 110.00
6. Glastonbury (5-1) 110.00
7. Trumbull (5-1) 106.67
8. Southington (5-1) 106.67.
1. Masuk (6-0) 131.67
2. Darien (6-0) 126.67
3. Wethersfield (6-0) 121.67
4. Naugatuck (6-0) 120.00
5. Bristol Eastern (6-0) 120.00
6. Hand-Madison (110.00)
7. Windsor (5-1) 98.33
8. Fitch (4-1) 98.00.
1. Berlin (6-0) 116.67
2. New London (5-1) 113.33
3. Plainville (5-1) 108.33
4. Enfield (5-1) 101.67
5. Cheney Tech (5-1) 101.67
6. Platt (5-1) 98.33
7. Lyman Hall (5-1) 96.67
8. Coventry/Windham Tech (4-1) 94.00.
1. Ansonia (6-0) 136.67
2. Valley Regional/Old Lyme (6-0) 128.33
3. Hyde Leadership (6-0) 126.67
4. Montville (5-1) 116.67
5. Coginchaug (5-0) 116.00
6. Woodland (4-2) 95.00
7. Sacred Heart (4-2) 91.67
8. St. Joseph (4-2) 88.33.