FOOTBALL: Failure to convert early scoring chances dooms Lyman Hall at ND-Fairfield

FOOTBALL: Failure to convert early scoring chances dooms Lyman Hall at ND-Fairfield



FAIRFIELD —The Lyman Hall football Trojans saw their four-game win streak snapped Saturday with a 36-26 Connecticut Alliance loss against Notre Dame-Fairfield.

The Lancers improved to 3-2 while dropping Lyman Hall to 4-2 overall and from No. 8 in the Class M playoff rankings to No. 13.

“To say I’m disappointed is an understatement right now,” said LH coach Bill Weyrauch. “We played about as bad as we could possibly play.”

The Trojans never led despite having early chances to score and wound up playing catch-up all afternoon. They fell short despite three touchdowns from senior Shakespeare Rodriguez.

“Right now, I have to make sure our kids have confidence going forward,” said Weyrauch, whose team returns home to face Amity on Friday night. “Right now, they’re probably feeling as low as I am, and we gotta get out of that and get our confidence back ahead of next week.”

The Trojans had a chance to jump all over this one early. The Lancers let the opening kickoff go out of bounds and wound up starting their first possession at their own 1-yard line.

Lyman Hall forced a punt and took over midfield. Instead of taking advantage of the short field, however, the Trojans gained one yard on a run, threw an incomplete pass and then had pick-six returned for a touchdown by Notre Dame’s Nathaniel Cole.

The Trojans appeared poised to regroup. On their ensuing drive, Christain Salaman broke three tackles at the line of scrimmage and gained 61 yards down to the ND 1-yard line.

LH, however, was unable to score. Two run plays went backward and resulted in a third-and-long situation in which the Trojans had their first of six bad snaps in the first half. That had the Trojans facing fourth down from the 25-yard line. A screen to Salaman went for a gain of 19 yards and the Lancers took over at their 5-yard line.

“When we’re at the 1-yard line, we gotta have confidence,” Weyrauch said. “We gotta know what we’re doing and, today, I felt like we kept reaching.”

Reaching — and not scoring. 

After forcing the Lancers to 3-and-out on their next drive, Shakespeare Rodriguez broke free for a 30-yard punt return that set up the Trojans at the ND 12-yard line. After another bad snap in the shotgun position, however, backed the Trojans up and had them facing third-and-35. Dan Finizio intercepted S.P. Pragano on the next play and the Lancers took over at their own 12.

The LH defense responded with a turnover of it own, with Jabari Young Robinson picked off a pass at midfield.

The Trojans went three-and-out, though, and turned the ball over on an unsuccessful pass on a fake punt.

The home team pounced. On the next snap, ND quarterback John Fassett connected with Finizio on a 47-yard touchdown off a run-pass option. The Lancers led 14-0 with 8:00 left in the first half.  

Sparked by a long kickoff return inside the Notre Dame 25, the Trojans were able to respond. Salaman picked up 16 yards to set up Rodriguez for a nine-yard touchdown run. The Trojans failed on the 2-point conversion, making the score 14-6 with 6:38 left in the first half. 

Bad snaps continued to haunt the Trojans. One their next possession, a ball went over Pragano’s head and Kevin Splan of the Lancers recovered it at the ND 44. 

After picking up a few first downs, Finizio scored his second touchdown off of a nine-yard reverse to put his club up 21-6 at the break.

The Trojans responded in a big way to open the second half. On a third-and-long, Pragano hit Rodriguez in stride for a 66-yard touchdown pass. Rodriguez also caught the ball on the 2-point conversion to pull the Trojans to within 21-14.

The Lancers found little success on their next drive and punted after picking up only one first down. Luke O’Reardon gained 20 yards to start the ensuing Trojans’s drive. Two plays later, though, Jaidyn Cummings recovered a fumble after Christian Salaman got stripped at the ND 20. 

After the teams exchanged punts, the Lancers extended their lead to 28-14 on another receiving touchdown from Finizio, this time from 21 yards out.

The Trojans stayed in the game on their ensuing possession. They were able to overcome two fourth-down situations, with one resulting in a 30-yard touchdown from O’Reardon. The 2-point conversion attempt fell short and the Trojans trailed 28-20 with 8:00 left in the game. 

The Trojans were unable to recover their onside kick attempt and the Lancers took over at their own 47. After a holding call on the Lancers on first down, Finizio scored his longest touchdown of the day on a 54-yard reception. The Lancers extended their lead to 36-20 with 6:34 to play.

Rodriguez scored his third touchdown on a 65-yard pass play, cutting the lead to 36-26 with 5:45 remaining in the game. From there, the Lancers ran out the clock.


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