WALLINGFORD — Lyman Hall trailed by four points midway through the second quarter in its Thanksgiving Day football bout with Sheehan.
Now on their fifth possession of the afternoon, the Trojans lined up to punt to let their defense continue to contain Sheehan running back Jacob Shook and the potent Titans offense.
Except once the ball was snapped, punter Omer Celik never kicked it. He rolled left and looked for a receiver past the sticks for the conversion.
The ball was never caught and Lyman Hall was flagged for an ineligible man downfield.
“Poor decision on my part,” Lyman Hall head coach Bill Weyracuh said afterward. “I take full responsibility for it. It was my call. I really thought they were going to rush more aggressively and they sat back.”
Three plays later, Sheehan quarterback Paul Gorry connected with John Gogliettino on a 41-yard strike, one of two touchdowns the game’s Offensive MVP would haul in, to put the Titans on top 14-3.
The Titans held strong from there in and closed out the 49th annual Carini Bowl victory at Fitzgerald Field. It was Sheehan’s ninth straight win in the rivalry; Lyman Hall still holds a 26-23 lead in the all-time series.
“This is the first time (for me) being a varsity starter and winning a Carini Bowl,” Sheehan senior running back Jacob Shook said. “It's been a dream of mine since I started playing Vikings, coming to the games and watching my brother play.”
Though the Trojans consistently stacked the box against Shook, he still managed to rack up 119 yards on 19 carries in what was his last time suiting up up for Sheehan.
Shook was beaten out by Gogliettino and his 128 receiving yards and two touchdowns on four catches for Sheehan’s offensive MVP award. Linebacker Apollo Dubuc was named Defensive MVP award for his role in limiting Lyman Hall to nine points.
For the Tojans, senior lineman and captain Joe Pieper was named defensive MVP, while sophomore running back Cristian Roman-Koenig took home the offensive MVP honors for his over 100 yards rushing on 35 carries.
“I’m glad we were able to fight and come out with the win,” Shook said.
Shook was the first player to cross the goal line Thursday afternoon. Sheehan had a punt blocked after its opening possession and was forced to punt on its second before Shook & Co. were able to take advantage of opportune field position.
A short Trojan punt set up Sheehan at the Lyman Hall 24-yard line. Shook lost a few yards and then got stuffed at the line of scrimmage before Gorry and Gogliettino converted on third down.
From nine yards out, Shook took a direct snap up the middle to give Sheehan a 7-3 lead.
That score stood until halftime. In the third quarter, Shook racked up 30 yards on four carries, had a 25-yarder called back by an unsportsmanlike penalty, but then in tandem with Ryan Gersz rushed Sheehan back into the red zone, where Gorry connected with Gogliettino for the first of their two scores to extend the lead to 14-3.
“I’ve been waiting all season,” Gogliettino said. “Coach Ferrazzi gave me my chance.”
In the fourth quarter, an 11-yard touchdown run by Romeo Cruz pushed the Sheehan lead to 21-3.
On the ensuing series, the Titans recovered a botched Lyman Hall snap on their own side of the 50-yard line and, on the next play, Gorry and Gogliettino connected for a 51-yard score and a 28-3 lead.
“Loading the box, they left some receivers one-on-one,” Ferrazzi said. “We had to start taking some shots.
“It wasn’t until we went up 21-3 that I felt like the momentum shifted in our direction,” Ferrazzi also said. “They gave us fits.”
Lyman Hall’s scoring bookended the game.
The Trojans won the toss, elected to receive and held onto the ball for the opening 8:22. Though it resulted in only a field goal by Celik, it was how Lyman Hall planned to play.
“I thought that was the best chance of winning this game today,” Weyrauch said. “Just to go back to that ball-control offense and try to keep the ball out of their hands.”
Without starting quarterback Kadin DeWallace under center, the Trojans were forced to run even more. Senior Aiden Coratelli got the spot-start and held his own in his last high school football game.
He completed his first pass of the game late in the fourth quarter to Ethan Saez to keep a drive moving and found an open Jake Seamans down the near sideline. Seamans put a defender on skates as he ran down the field to set up Lyman Hall in the red zone.
On the next play, Coratelli found Saez in the back of the end zone for the lone Lyman Hall touchdown of the afternoon.
“I’m just proud of our football team,” Weyrauch said.
Thanksgiving marked the conclusion of the season for both Wallingford high schools. Sheehan finished 7-3, one spot shy of the Class S playoffs. Lyman Hall closed at 2-8.