They did it again, again.
Aside from a few tense moments late in the first half, Xavier dominated Norwich Free Academy 48-14 to win its third straight Class LL championship in front of 4,576 Friday night at Rentschler Field.
DeAngelo Berry ran for 260 yards on 30 carries and three touchdowns as Xavier blew the lid open on a close, 20-14 game at halftime. Despite having a Division-I quarterback in their midst, Xavier never threw the ball in the second half.
“Tonight wasn’t my night, it was DeAngelo’s night,” said Boyle, who finished 2-of-5 for 109 yards and a touchdown. “It was DeAngelo’s night and the offensive line’s night.
The Falcons (12-1) just lined up and beat upstart NFA up at the line of scrimmage, amassing 517 yards of total offense, 408 on the ground.
Xavier’s defense, led by Chidi Broderick, Max Schumann, Braxton Obi Etuka and Will Garrity, created havoc as well with nine tackles for a loss, four pass breakups recovered a fumble and had two interceptions. It held NFA to a grand total of 169 yards.
Long before the final horn sounded, the Xavier players raised three fingers to the sky. Threepeat!
Xavier is the first Class LL team to win three straight.
“I can’t describe the feeling,” said coach Sean Marinan, who won his fourth title at the school. “Maybe later it’ll hit me. I’m just so proud of our kids.”
Xavier dominated early. Quarterback Tim Boyle ran for a 4-yard touchdown and later threw a 94-yard touchdown pass to James Sullivan. Berry added a 3-yard run. Its hard-hitting defense, meanwhile, knocked NFA back Marcus Outlow and Chris Johnson out of the game.
Despite turning the ball over twice, Xavier had a 20-0 late in the second quarter.
It looked as if the rout was on with 3:19 remaining in the first half when Berry scored on a 3-yard run.
But that’s when the madness began. NFA recovered the ensuing onside kick and. Ryer Caruso caught a 49-yard touchdown pass.
Moments later, Airec Ricks recovered a fumbled kickoff by Berry and Caruso caught a 6-yard touchdown pass in double coverage to put the Wildcats in great shape at 20-14 at halftime.
Xavier didn’t blink.
“We all refocused,” Berry said. “We knew we gave those points away, they didn’t earn them. We knew we were going to go out there and make a stop and then we were going to go down and score.”
Xavier’s defense held NFA to negative-1 yard of offense in the third quarter and had a pair of interceptions.
Berry, meanwhile, ran for 151 yards and two touchdown in the second half. Kris Luster’s interception at the end of the third quarter set up his 22-yard run. Andrew Meoli added 19-yard run to complete the threepeat.
Outlow, the heralded NFA tailback, injured his lower left leg on just his second carry of the game and was helped to the locker room. Though Outlow returned late in the first half, NFA coach Jemal Davis said his star back “just wasn’t 100 percent” after his injury. Outlow only carried four more times the rest of the game.
“I’m not going to make excuses for the outstanding performance that Xavier had,” Davis said. “It was unfortunate that we had two guys go down early, two guys who were a big part of our game plan. But they (Xavier) played an excellent game. That’s what the story should be. It should be the way they ran the football on us.”
Xavier has now won 38 of 39 games, including three state championships, dating back to 2010. For the seniors on this team, especially Boyle, this one tastes just a bit sweeter.
“The last two years I split time, those championships still felt great but being the full-time starting quarterback, and leading your team to a championship it’s more fulfilling and a way,” Boyle said. “This was more of a personal championship for me and the seniors and I’m so proud of our guys.”
Elisa Formiglio became the first female in Connecticut state championship history to play in a title game. She was 2-for-2 on extra points. …Joey Paparelli was 7-of-19 passing for 86 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He was picked off once. Caruso caught all seven of his passes. …NFA’s only other pass was thrown by Caruso. It resulted in an interception. …Khaleed Exum-Strong ran for 90 yards. …Xavier only punted twice, but it turned the ball over three times — all on fumbles. It also gave the ball up on downs. …Berry finished with 288 all-purpose yards. …NFA led Xavier in time of possession 25:23-22:37. …Xavier became the highest-scoring team in SCC history. …Detroit Lions back and Xavier alum Amarie Spivey, who led the school to its first state title in 2005, was on the sideline to cheer on his school. He and Berry posed for pictures (at right).
- NORWICH BULLETIN – NFA falls short in title game
- MIDDLETOWN PRESS — THREE-PEAT: Xavier routs NFA for 3rd straight Class LL title
- NORWICH BULLETIN — Despite loss, Wildcats still share close camaraderie
- THE DAY — A lesson in perspective for ECC’s best
- COURANT — Xavier dominates in LL to win third straight title
- THE DAY — Night turns out half empty for NFA