Prep loses to playoff-bound Westies

Needing a victory to secure a spot in the Class LL state playoffs, the West Haven High football team took care of business on Thanksgiving Day against rival Fairfield Prep.
Senior fullback Eddy Williams carried the ball 13 times for 163 yards and scored two first-half touchdowns, powering the Westies to a 24-7 victory over the Jesuits at Ken Strong Stadium on Thursday afternoon in an SCC Division I matchup.
“They’re an excellent team,” Fairfield Prep coach Tom Shea said of West Haven. “Certainly one you can’t make mistakes against. From the first play of the game, we made mistakes and shot ourselves in the foot… Not taking anything away from them, they’re an excellent team… But, we didn’t help ourselves tonight.”
Junior tailback Duane Gary added 89 yards rushing and a seven-yard score, as West Haven (8-2) built up a 21-7 halftime edge and protected it over the final 24 minutes.
The Westies scored on their first two drives of the game, with Williams ripping off a 59-yard touchdown run at the 8:17 mark of the first quarter and Gary cashing in from 11 yards out with 1:32 left.
Williams then made it 21-0 with a one-yard burst that capped a six-play, 59-yard scoring drive with 8:50 left in the first half.
“We’ve been plagued by giving up big plays,” Shea said.
“Young guys have to learn about the importance of consistency. These guys [West Haven] were very consistent today and we weren’t. That’s why they’re going [to the state tournament] and we’re watching.”
Fairfield Prep’s lone touchdown came on its ensuing drive, when senior quarterback Strecker Backe hit sophomore wide receiver John Dellisanti on a 40-yard scoring strike.
The Jesuits rolled 73 yards in 10 plays for the touchdown, with Dellisanti shaking free on a slant pattern over the middle with 5:12 left in the half.
Liam Coyle’s extra point cut the deficit to 21-7, but that was it for the Prep scoring.
West Haven rumbled 14 plays on the opening drive of the second half, but the Blue Devils turned the ball over on downs after quarterback Javon Taylor tackled short of the end zone on fourth-and-goal from the Prep 8-yard line.
After a pair of runs by Dillon Ryan netted a first down for the Jesuits, Backe connected with Chris Golger on a short completion. Backe dropped back to pass on second down, but his pass was intercepted by linebacker Jesse Ridgway.
“You have to keep your head down and come out slugging,” Shea said. “We get a score, we give up a long drive, but we get a stop. Then we go and make a turnover.”
The turnover resulted in Tayvon Gibbs’ 29-yard field goal with 59 seconds left in the third quarter that completed the scoring.
“We couldn’t get out of the hole,” Shea said of his squad falling into an early deficit.
Senior tailback Ervin Phillips rushed for 113 yards on 18 carries for West Haven.
Dellisanti led Prep with six catches for 79 yards. Backe rushed for 44 yards on 13 carries and completed 14-of-26 passes for 138 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Defensively, Nick Crowle led Prep with 13 tackles, while Anthony Johnson and Matt Montani added nine apiece. William Riley notched a sack and Tim Peterson recovered a West Haven fumble.
The Jesuits wrapped up their season at 6-4.
“We have some outstanding young guys,” Shea said of his team’s bright future. “The program is really taking footing… That’s why we’re getting better and better.”

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