Foran High football coach Jeff Bevino didn’t seem to be bothered as much by the fact that his team lost Friday night’s game to Southern Connecticut Conference interdivisional foe Shelton High, 31-8, as much as that his Lions had opportunities to make the final score much closer than it ended up.
While the SCC Division II Lions (0-2) never led against the Gaels (1-1), they were within nine points at halftime and had a chance to put a major scare into the SCC Division I Gaels, if not pull off the road upset, Friday night before 1,200 fans at Shelton’s Finn Stadium.
“We notoriously move the football a lot better than we did tonight, we just didn’t do it,” Bevino said. “We didn’t execute. We’re very young and our inexperience showed tonight. We’re a work in progress.”
Foran churned out 213 yards in offense on the night, but only 29 after halftime.
The Lions gained 51 on the ground in the first quarter against a Shelton defense that yielded 301 rushing yards a week earlier to Cheshire, but Foran gained just 21 yards rushing over the last three quarters.
Sophomore quarterback Jake Kasuba completed 13-of-27 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown, but also had two balls picked off.
The Lions fell into a 17-0 hole against Shelton, not unlike the way they fell behind Hillhouse a week earlier.
But Shelton is not as good as Hillhouse, and probably not that much better than Foran on most nights, certainly not 23 points better.
Foran was still very much in the game at halftime, thanks in large part to a five play, 79-yard touchdown drive late in the second quarter.
Kasuba found junior receiver Connor Cadrin streaking past the Shelton secondary and connected with him on a 64-yard touchdown pass. Zachary White added the two-point conversion run to make it 17-8.
The Lion defense, which gave up 319 first half yards to the Gaels, came up with a huge goal line stand on Shelton’s ensuing possession, stopping Shelton’s William Karcher a yard short of the goal line on a fourth-and-goal play from the Foran two-yard line with nine seconds left in the half.
Foran received the opening kickoff of the second half, needing to score points or at least drive the ball into Gael territory to continue to hold the momentum it captured late in the second quarter.
But Kasuba’s third-and-11 pass to Nick Weissauer (seven receptions, 45 yards) gained only eight yards, forcing Lions to punt after just three plays.
Starting at their 41, the Gaels padded their lead with a nine-play drive, aided by a critical roughing the punter penalty on the Lions after the Foran defense had forced Shelton to kick the ball away.
Shelton’s Jagger Kalagian bulled his way into the end zone five plays later for a nine-yard touchdown run to give the Gaels a 24-8 lead midway through the third quarter.
Things didn’t get any better for Foran offensively the rest of the night, as the Lions managed just one first down in the second half.
That put more pressure on the Foran defense, which allowed another Shelton touchdown early in the fourth quarter for the final margin of defeat.
“Our defense was on the field for three quarters of the game,” Bevino said after Shelton’s offense ran 76 plays to Foran’s 43.
The good news for the Lions is that the schedule takes a turn for the better the next three weeks, as Foran travels to Sheehan of Wallingford Friday night before visiting East Haven and then hosting Lyman Hall of Wallingford.
Sheehan, East Haven and Lyman Hall have a combined record of 2-4, and have been out scored 251-120 in those six games.
Sheehan (1-1) is coming off a 58-14 loss to Amity of Woodbridge.