Foran High lost a 14-13 decision to Wilbur Cross in the season opener for both Southern Connecticut Conference football teams in New Haven on Friday.
“I told my guys I couldn’t have asked for a better, more intense effort,” Foran coach Tom Drew said. “We have tough kids and they competed. They worked their tails off.”
The Governors scored late in the first half to cut a 13-0 deficit to 13-8.
Coach John Acquavita’s team then took a 14-13 lead on Leshaun Hicks’ 80-yard run on their third play from scrimmage in the third quarter.
“We had a few broken plays,” Drew said of Wilbur Cross’ come back. “Our defense was stout today. We were aggressive and John Reinecke (defensive coordinator) did a wonderful job having our guys ready. They believed until the end.”
Foran, after being held on downs in the second half at the Governors’ 34, 30 and 19-yard lines, saw Wilbur Cross run all but 6.6 seconds of the last 3:28 off the clock.
Two passes fell incomplete as the time clicked off.
Junior quarterback Andrew Janik completed 11-of-33 passes for 249 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
He went 0 for 7 in the Lions’ first three possessions, before Will Vitelli made a great adjustment on a pass for a 27-yard gain and Foran’s initial first down in the game. That came three plays into the second period.
Maxwell Tavitian caught a slant pass for 14 yards.
Rich Piscitelli then outfought a defender and made a reception on the 30, broke free, and ran the rest of the way to complete a 50-yard catch and carry for a 6-0 lead.
Drew Izzo kicked the conversion and Foran was in front at the 11:05 mark of the second stanza.
The Lions’ defense, led up front by Ryan Zamoch, Maurizio Aranga, Max Queiroz and Philip Boyles, forced Wilbur Cross to punt for the fourth consecutive series.
Caden Ondek, Reilly Barry and Piscitelli were outstanding in the secondary.
Foran gave the ball back on a fumble at its 30.
The locals, with linebackers’ Justin DeEll, Gage Dias, Tavitian and Vitelli, held at the 29.
Janik, given time to throw by the o-line of Zamoch, Arango, Tanner Lucy, Dias and DeEll, connected with Nick Costantini on a pop pass good for 19 yards.
A pass interference call covering Piscitelli moved the chains 15 yards and Tommy Dempsey carried twice for a first down at the Governors’ 27.
After Wilbur Cross burned its third time out, Janik found Vitelli opened down the left sideline at the 6.
The senior back pedaled his way into the end zone.
The PAT was short, but the Lions led 13-0 with 5:21 remaining in the first half.
Costantini ended Cross’ next series with an interception on the Lions’ 21.
Vitelli caught a pass for 24 yards to get the ball near midfield, but Cross’ Jasiah Barnes intercepted a pass on the Governors’ 35 with 1:39 remaining.
With no time outs, the home team had its work cut out.
Barnes broke multiple tackles for 11 yards and Hicks ran for 13 more.
Faced with a 4th-and-1 from the Lions’ 32 with 26.7 left in the half, Hicks hooked up with Enasj Jones for the score.
Barnes ran for the two-point conversion, and Cross took momentum into the halftime break.
Foran went three and out, before Hicks found a seam on a keeper and rambled 80-yards for the go-ahead touchdown.
Tavitian’s 16-yard catch was the key play when Foran moved to the 34 only to be stopped with 3:34 on the clock in the third.
Cross moved the chains twice looking to add to its lead, but Tavitian and William Ives combined on a quarterback sack.
Queiroz and DeEll had stops to get the ball back on the Foran 23.
Janik found Piscitelli on a skinny post for 46 yards and a first down at the Cross 30.
The secondary blanketed the Lion receivers on the next four snaps to take over on downs with 9:04 remaining.
Dias made two big stops to force another punt,.
Tavitian used a jab step after catching a third-down pass to cut back and got a first down at the Cross 40.
A pass interference call moved the marker to the 22, but the Lions could only muster a five-yard catch by Tavitian and gave the ball back with 3:38 left.
Foran ran the ball for 42 yards on 17 carries.
Tavitian led the receivers with five grabs for 71 yards.
Vitelli had three catches for 75 yards and a score.
Piscitelli had three catches for 101 yards and a touchdown.
DeEll had 11 tackles, Dias 10 and Aranga and Queiroz nine each.
Zarnoch and Vitelli were in on eight stops.
Tavitian (five), Barry (four), Piscitelli (three), Lucy, Noah Jones, Ives, Erik Johnson and James Carlson all made tackles.