MERIDEN — Friday night’s CCC Division II crossover game between Maloney and Windsor was loaded with postseason implications.
The Spartans entered the contest ranked No. 3 in Class L, trailing only undefeated Daniel Hand and St. Joseph in the standings. On the other sideline, Windsor, ranked 10th in L, needed a win to remain in state playoff contention.
Behind James Tarver’s three touchdowns, the Spartans scored 24 unanswered points and held on for a 30-22 win over the Warriors at Falcon Field.
“We knew we had to get this win,” said Tarver, who rushed for 208 yards. “Our first goal has always been to make the playoffs. We had a good game plan and we came out here fired up. Players made plays. We let them get back in the game a little bit, but we’re going to enjoy this win.”
With the triumph, the Spartans clinched a playoff spot and improved to 8-1 overall heading into their Stoddard Bowl showdown against Platt on Nov. 28.
“It was a huge game,” Maloney coach Kevin Frederick said. “We knew, obviously, with a win, we would go back to the playoffs. When you get up 24-0 you’ve got to keep your foot on the gas. We did not do a good job with that, but we ran the ball well and the defense played well for the most part.”
Maloney led 10-0 at halftime, and kept momentum on its side at the start of the third quarter, capped by Tarver’s 28-yard touchdown run.
Maloney pushed its advantage to 24-0 in emphatic fashion. Lineman Trevor Santiago used every inch of his 6-foot-5 frame to block a punt, which was scooped up by Sergio Muniz in the end zone for a touchdown, with just over three minutes left in the third quarter.
After Bernard Lee scored Windsor’s first TD, Tarver struck once again, this time from 20 yards out. Windsor made it 30-14 on Amir Spears’ 19-yard touchdown catch and two-point catch with 3:03 to play.
Windsor recovered the ensuing onside kick and pulled to within 30-22 with just under a minute to play, but Maloney was able to recover another onside kick and run out the clock.
“Three years in a row making the playoffs,” Frederick said. “I think that speaks volumes about our program. The kids worked hard for this.”
Maloney never trailed, taking advantage of a turnover on the first drive of the game. Stone Deleon recovered a Windsor fumble at the Warriors’ 40-yard line. Five plays later, Tarver bulldozed into the end zone for a 1-yard run that put the Spartans up 6-0. Jaden Myles connected on the extra point kick to make it 7-0.
Santiago pounced on another Windsor fumble in the Warriors’ territory at the start of the second quarter. That led to a 24-yard field goal by Myles, a converted soccer player with a golden leg, to go ahead 10-0 with 5½ minutes remaining in the stanza.
The Spartans defense held strong. Kody Talento batted down a pair of passes and Santiago added a pivotal sack to keep Windsor scoreless at halftime.
Windsor fell to 6-3 overall with the loss.