MIDDLETOWN — Moral victories? No such thing on the football field. But Cheshire can take some solace after pushing top-10 ranked Shelton to the brink of overtime Friday night.
In a SCC Tier 1 opener for both teams that appeared headed for overtime, Shelton escaped with a 17-10 victory only after Cheshire quarterback Jason Shumilla fumbled inside his own 10-yard line in the game’s final minutes.
The next play saw Shelton quarterback Jake Roberts run for the winning score from eight yards out with 1:03 to play in the game.
Despite graduating a school-record 27 players, Cheshire played Shelton even for a half and the Rams also tied the game 10-10 on Jotham Casey’s 27-yard field goal with 5:57 to play.
Cheshire freshman Christian Russo then intercepted Roberts with 5:02 to play to set up Cheshire for the potential winning score. But the Rams failed to get a first down. Still, Cheshire kept Shelton in check as the minutes ticked down toward OT.
But on an innocent looking run into the middle of the Shelton defense, Schumilla lost the ball in a pile and the Gaels’ Jake Falanga recovered the ball to set up Roberts’ winning score.
Cheshire got the ball back with 1:03 to play at its own 39, but after two incompletions, Schumilla’s desperation deep ball was intercepted by Paul Ferrigno with 41 seconds to play. The Gaels ran the clock out from there.
The game, originally scheduled for Thursday night in West Haven, was moved to Xavier High School. The Gaels’ home field turf is not yet ready for football.
Up until his fumble, it was a night of firsts for Shumilla.
Making his first varsity start behind center, Shumilla not only scored the Rams’ first touchdown to knot up the game in the second quarter, he was also Cheshire’s leading rusher with 113 yards.
As expected, the Rams kept the ball on ground after losing three-year starting quarterback Jack Raba and the majority of its wide receivers. Schumilla didn’t complete his first pass until the fourth quarter.
Shumilla scored with 6:51 to play in the first half, running 38 yards to even the game 7-7. Up until Shumilla’s score, the Rams had struggled on offense, going 3-and-out on their only two possessions of the first quarter.
Cheshire didn’t get a first down until 7:13 remained in the half. But after running for 14 yards and that first down, Shumilla scampered for the game-tying score.
Cheshire fell behind 7-0 when Shelton took the opening kickoff 77 yards and ate up nearly 10 minutes.
After five runs and two screens to senior tailback Jack Carr put the Gaels on the Rams’ 14-yard line, junior Michal Lynch-Barnes first touch resulted in a 14-yard touchdown run off the right side.