WALLINGFORD – No. 6 Joel Barlow’s potent ground game paced by senior quarterback Trevor Furrer turned out to be too much for No. 3 Sheehan as the Titans fell 47-34 in the CIAC Class M football quarterfinals at Riccitelli Field on Tuesday night.
Furrer was a workhorse. He carried 32 times for 330 yards and three touchdowns with scoring runs of 3, 4, 19 out of the triple option. The QB also threw for another TD as the Falcons improved to 8-3 and move onto Sunday’s semifinals at home against No. 7 SMSA/Classical/University.
Sheehan, making its first playoff appearance since 1995, saw its season end at 9-2.
At the half, Barlow led 27-21.
Furrer accounted for three touchdowns in the opening 24 minutes. He also put the visitors back on top with 29.3 seconds left with a 23-yard TD pass to Kevin Richetelli.
“Preparing for a veteran team that runs the triple option in four days is tough,” Sheehan coach John Ferrazzi said. “I thought we had a good plan to catch up to the speed and efficency against a team like that. Versus our freshman, JV squad, it’s tough. These guys do a tremendous job running that offense. This was not for a lack of effort or energy, enthusiasm, none of that. Our kids left it all on the field and I’m proud of them.”
Sheehan junior quarterback Wes Terzi was impressive with four touchdown passes, including a pair caught by Aaron Simmons. The others were snagged by Evan Mansfield and Jake Smith.
Joel Barlow head coach Rob Tynan said the game plan was to shutdown the Sheehan ground game.
“Our job on defense is to take away what they do best and we did,” Tynan said. “We were happy to see them go more to a spread attack and I guess I shouldn’t have been. But we are big believers in making them do something that’s not their best.”
The game couldn’t have started shakier for Sheehan. The Titans’ Ryan Paul fumbled the opening kickoff and Barlow jumped on it.
The Falcons went to work at the Sheehan 22. Five running plays later, they led 7-0. Barlow overcame a block-below-the-waist penalty and, on fourth-and-1, Furrer plunged in from three yards with 9:28 still to play in the first quarter.
Following a Sheehan 3-and-out, Barlow needed eight plays to cover 56 yards for its second touchdown of the contest. Alex Stillman finished the deal with a 2-yard TD run that staked the Falcons to a 14-0 advantage.
Sheehan responded with 9-play drive as Terzi went to work. The junior signal caller was 4-for-4 on the drive, including a 31-yard TD pass to Mansfield (3 catches, 49 yards, TD) in the endzone. The TD catch came on a third-and-11 play and made it cut the deficit in half, 14-7, with 29.3 left in the first quarter.
Barlow made it 3-for-3 on scoring drives with another march into paydirt. Furrer carried on four of six plays on the drive, ripping off runs of 24, 9 and 11 yards. He capped the drive with a 4-yard TD run with 9:49 remaining in the first half to put Barlow back up 20-7 after a blocked extra point.
Sheehan responded with back-to-back touchdowns to go up 21-20. Terzi found Simmons for a 27-yard score with 9:40 left in the first half.
The Titans defense then came up with a fourth-and-2 stop when Barlow went for it near midfield late in the first half.
With good field position, Sheehan struck, but it wasn’t easy. Terzi was flushed out of the pocket on fourth-and-13 and heaved it to the end zone. Smith (3 catches, 66 yards, TD) jumped for the 29-yard TD catch with 4:36 remaining in the first half. Terzi’s third touchdown pass of the game gave the Titans a 21-20 lead.
Barlow regained the advantage in the closing seconds of the first half. On a first-and-10 from the Sheehan 23, Furrer completed the Falcons’ first reception of the half, finding Richetelli wide open down the left sideline. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound receiver reeled it in and Barlow held a 27-21 edge at the half.
That was the Falcons’ lone reception on Tuesday. They threw just twice.
Furrer started the half with a 19-yard scoring jaunt to expand the lead to 34-21 with 9:53 left in the third quarter.
The Titans answered in one play. Terzi found a wide open Simmons (3 catches, 87 yards, 2 TD) down the left sideline for a 53-yard touchdown to cut the deficit back down to 34-28 with 9:42 left in the third.
Terzi finished the game 13-for-19 for 252 yards and the four TDs.
Barlow added rushing touchdowns by William Cusick, a 5-yarder on fourth down, and a 1-yard plunge by Calvin Peterson late in the fourth quarter to go up 47-28. The Peterson touchdown capped a 12-play drive that spanned 7:46, more than half of the fourth quarter.
Sheehan capped the scoring with a 1-yard TD run by sophomore Terrence Bogan with 1:27 left in the fourth to make it a 47-34 final. Bogan (8 carries, 25 yards) and Jordan Davis (5 carries, 43 yards) were held below their season average, as Barlow game-planned.
Bogan and Davis are just sophomores, like a number of players on both sides of the ball for Sheehan.
“This team showed that people should expect us to be here,” Ferrazzi said. “I fully expect with the guys we have coming back we will be back here next year.”