By Tom Hennick
MIDDLETOWN — A week ago, the Xavier High School football team pulled out a scintillating, last-minute 21-20 win over a good Cheshire team. The sentiment was that the exciting win would provide the momentum to send the Falcons off on a healthy winning streak.
Somebody forgot to tell the Maloney Spartans.
After a brief, but promising start for Xavier ended in a turnover, Maloney went on a punishing 13-play, 99-yard drive for a touchdown and never looked back, flattening the Falcons 42-13 at Larry McHugh Field on Friday night.
So thorough and total was Maloney’s domination that the Spartans, now 5-1, scored all five times they touched the ball in the first half en route to a 35-0 lead, which triggered the CIAC rule forcing the clock to run continuously in the second half.
On its five offensive possessions, Maloney chewed up 295 yards in 33 plays to produce its 35 points, while on defense, the Spartans held Xavier’s offense scoreless, completely shutting Xavier down after the Falcons’ opening possession.
“They really didn’t do anything we didn’t expect,” said a shell-shocked Xavier coach Andy Guyon after the game. “We threw the pick on the first series and then they took it to us. They outplayed us from that point on. Give them the credit.”
The aforementioned interception ended what was to be one of the only positive moments of the evening for Xavier (3-3).
Maloney won the toss and elected to defer, kicking off to the Falcons, who started on their own 35. Behind a couple of nice completions from senior quarterback Drew Kron, who spent much of the night on the run, Xavier took eight plays to move to the Maloney 21.
On first down, Kron tried to loft a ball to his receiver heading toward the end zone, but defensive back Tylee Flowers jumped the route and made a leaping interception to short circuit the drive.
Still, Maloney was backed up to its own 1-yard line. So, the thinking was that if Xavier’s defense could hold, then Xavier’s offense could start with good field position on its next drive.
Taking over with 8:46 remaining in the opening quarter, Maloney went on as impressive a drive as there could be at any level of football. Running backs Josh Boganski and Kuron Wiggins gobbled up big chunks of yardage on the ground and quarterback Angel Arce (more on his exploits later) completed three passes, including an 11-yarder to Austin Studley for a touchdown. Joshua Scaramuzzo’s kick was good and it was 7-0 Maloney.
In truth, the Spartans blew through Xavier’s defense and the offensive line opened up gaping holes for the backs, giving Arce plenty of time to throw. The drive consumed almost seven minutes on the clock and sent Xavier reeling for the rest of the night.
“That drive set the tone,” said winning coach Kevin Frederick. “Our guys came in expecting this to happen. We had heard that we were the underdogs and we honestly couldn’t believe it. We had a terrific week of practice and thought we would dominate tonight.”
And dominate Maloney did.
After stuffing Xavier as the quarter ended, Maloney went 50 yards on nine plays to start the second quarter. Boganski did much of the work behind his overpowering offensive line and scored from 3 yards out with 8:39 to play in the half. The kick was good to make it 14-0.
Sensing the need to get something going on its next possession, the Falcons gambled and failed on a fourth-and-2 from their 41. Maloney took four plays to score and bump its the lead to 21-0.
Arce completed a pretty 32-yarder to Rashawn Shelton to set up the score, which came on an 8-yard hookup between Arce and Shelton. The kick made it 21-0.
Before the night was over, Arce made sure that Falcon defenders would be having nightmares about him for a long time. As the Spartans bulldozed their way to their 35-0 halftime lead, he completed 10 of 11 passes for 164 yards and four touchdowns. For the game, he was 13 of 16 for 215 yards and four TDs.
“I’m really proud of him,” Frederick said. “Angel’s been working hard and you can see his confidence growing every day.”
A 40-yard catch and run from Arce to Flowers and a 20-yard pass to Joziah Gonzalez with 26 seconds to play in the half helped boost the lead to 35-0 before the break. Scaramuzzo, who was a perfect 7-for-7 on the night, added both extra points.
Xavier did show signs of life once the second half began. A quarterback sack by Jack Roy forced Maloney’s first punt of the game to start the half. Kron then guided his team to the end zone, hitting on an 11-yard pass to Max Wojtusik to finally get the Falcons on the board. The extra point made it 35-7 and temporarily stopped the clock from a continuous run. But by then, there was only 4:44 remaining in the third period leaving no realistic chance for the Falcons to mount a serious comeback.
Both teams added a touchdown in the fourth quarter: Maloney’s on Arce’s fifth TD toss of the game and Xavier’s on the second scoring pass from Kron to Wojtusik. Kron, to his credit, hung in on a tough night and finished 15 of 21 passing for 148 yards and two TDs.
“We did play better in the second half,” Guyon said.” I just told them at halftime to focus on the next play and play as hard as we could. I do think we did that.”
Guyon was asked what he might do to help his team shake off Friday night’s blowout.
“Well, we just have to try to turn the page. We’ll work hard in practice, then get on the bus and go for the two-hour ride to New Milford (Xavier’s opponent next Friday night), “ he said.
And as the Falcons trudged off the field Friday night, really, what else was there to say?