WALLINGFORD — The 48th annual Carini Bowl between Sheehan and Lyman Hall was the most lopsided one in series history, as the Titans dominated every aspect of the game en route to a 56-0 win Thursday morning at Riccitelli Field.
Sheehan had all 56 of its points on the board by halftime. The second half was played on running time. After the final horn, Sheehan celebrated its eighth straight Thanksgiving victory over the Trojans.
“I’ve got to really take a look at what they did,” Lyman Hall head coach Bill Weyrauch said. “I think it’s more what we didn’t do. I thought we were prepared to play, but evidently not today. It’s the first time I’ve been a part of a game like this that it just got away from us so early and we were not competitive.”
With the win, Sheehan (8-2) clinched a playoff berth in Class S, where it will be the No. 4 seed. The Titans will play at home on Tuesday against Woodland, the No. 5 seed, pending official pairings that will be announced Friday by the CIAC Football Committee.
“This is our third year in a row (going to the postseason), so this is kind of crazy,” Sheehan’s Jordan Davis said. “To be a part of that is an amazing feeling. We have a great program and great people here.”
The Trojans, who still lead the Carini Bowl series 26-22, finished their season 5-5 after starting 4-1.
“We took a step backwards today,” Weyrauch said. “We haven’t been in this position. It’s the first time since I’ve been here that we had to go to a running clock. I’m not happy about it. I never saw that coming today.
“I didn’t want my seniors to finish their season that way,” Weyrauch added. “We’ve had two competitive games against really good football teams. Take nothing away from Sheehan, they’re a very, very good football team. We were just hoping to give them a better game.”
Sheehan’s special teams started the scoring. Andrew Mansfield blocked a punt and Braedon McCarthy recovered it for a touchdown that put the Titans on the board just two minutes into the game.
“Our kids came out with a lot of fire,” Sheehan head coach John Ferrazzi said. “Opening up the game on that first series with the blocked punt gave us a spark.”
McCarthy would go on to win Carini Bowl Defensive MVP. From his defensive end position, McCarthy led a defense that forced four Lyman Hall turnovers.
“It was awesome,” McCarthy said. “Our defense has been rolling all year. I think that (blocked punt) started the momentum. It really just brought us together and led us to victory.”
The high-powered Sheehan offense took over from there, scoring three touchdowns on its first four plays from scrimmage to jump out to a 28-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.
“Our offense is serious,” Davis said. “We’ve got amazing players on both sides of the ball, but offensively we’re just a different breed, I guess.”
Davis, who finished his day early with four carries for 107 yards and two rushing touchdowns, and was named the Carini Bowl Offensive MVP.
Davis had scoring runs of 48 and 36 yards. He added a 10-yard touchdown catch on the only pass that quarterback Kyle Simmons threw on the day.
“If I could give this trophy to anyone, it would be the whole offensive line,” Davis said. “Without those guys, I wouldn’t have any of those touchdowns. I give all the credit to them.”
Lyman Hall registered just 90 yards of total offense in the first half and turned the ball over three times.
The blocked punt by Mansfield, a Garrett Molampy interception of S.P. Pragano and a fumbled exchange on a handoff to Christian Salaman killed Lyman Hall drives.
“I’m not sure why we couldn’t make those plays at the beginning of the game,” Weyrauch said. “Maybe we lost a little emphasis with the blocked punt at the start, but usually our football team can come back from that.”
The lone bright spot for Lyman Hall in the first half was a 27-yard completion on a fourth-and-5 to Shakespeare Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was named the Offensive MVP for Lyman Hall, finishing the day with four catches for 33 yards and six carries for 21 additional yards.
It was one of three first downs picked up by the Trojans in the half and the only time that they made it over midfield.
“Defensively, Pragano and Rodriguez have been among the tops in the state in terms of passing statistics and we knew that we were going to have to try to do our best to contain Shakespeare,” Ferrazzi said. “I know he didn’t beat us with any big plays and I’m super happy about that.”
Sheehan continued to run all over the Trojans in the second quarter. As a team, the Titans totaled 17 carries for 271 yards and six touchdowns.
Five different Titans scored touchdowns on the ground. Along with the two from Davis, Terrence Bogan scored from 44 yards, Russell Rutkowski from 18, Justin Moore from 13 and Anthony Castaldi from 36 to make it 56-0 by half.
Rutkowski also recovered the Salaman fumble, which led to the Moore touchdown run a few plays later.
“It was great,” Ferrazzi said. “Any time you can get some of the younger guys on the field it’s great. You see the energy of our team behind those guys when they come in and do well. It’s awesome.”
Sheehan’s defense was fantastic against the run in the first half, forcing the Trojans to turn elsewhere on offense. The Titans held Salaman to just 32 yards on 16 carries and Rodriguez to just four yards on three carries.
Lyman Hall tried to force-feed its best playmaker, Rodriguez, during its first possession of the second half, but his three touches mustered just three yards, leading to a turnover on downs.
Lyman Hall had an opportunity to score late in the fourth quarter, but Moore picked of Pragano in the end zone, sealing the shutout.
“It’s not the way that we wanted to finish the year,” Weyrauch said. “No doubt about it. We’ve got to go back and see why we’re behind as much as we are right now.”
While Lyman Hall goes back to the drawing board, Sheehan’s focus turns to the Class S playoffs and Woodland as they look to build on last year’s run to the Class M semifinals.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” Bogan said of clinching a playoff spot for the third consecutive year. “We went from a Sheehan team that hadn’t gone to the playoffs since the 1990s to going three years in a row. It’s awesome being a part of this and leaving our legacy here.”
The Titans have a quick turnaround, playing on Tuesday, but they will be at home and they will be coming off a 56-0 victory.
“Hopefully, this gives us some nice momentum into next week,” Ferrazzi said.