FOOTBALL Duran’s kick return, TD catch, lift Prep
WALLINGFORD — Finn Duran needs a better nickname.
Something sweet, you know? Like Captain Lightning … or Mr. Fantastic because it seems every time he touches the football, something great happens for Fairfield Prep.
Duran returned the opening kickoff 72 yards to set up an early field goal, caught a 37-yard touchdown pass and was everything the Jesuits needed in a dominating 23-14 victory over previously undefeated Sheehan Friday night at Riccitelli Field.
“We watched a lot of film coming into this week … we were ready for the running back (Terrance Bogan), we knew how good their run game was and when we stopped that, they had to start passing,” Prep cornerback Owen Cirilli said. “That made them throw the ball and we just let our DB’s do their thing.”
Over the opening three games, the Titans have been exactly that, playing like Titans, averaging 57.3 points and 514.7 yards a game in romps over Law, Stratford and Guilford. Bogan had been nearly unstoppable, rushing for 804 yards (a 268.0 per game average) and scoring 10 touchdowns.
But against the Prep defense, Bogan was held to 124 yards on 21 carries, his lone highlight was a 38-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
“The kids played really well in the box, we kind of got settled in,” Hellstern said. “Overall, we played really well. The plan was to try not to give him any seams, he’s so fast, once he starts going South on you, you’re in trouble.”
Duran finished the night with three catches for 71 yards, including that 37-yard touchdown. Overall this season, Duran has seven catches for 171 yards and four touchdowns.
“JP just seems to find me with the ball,” Duran said. “When he gets it to me, I try everything I can do to make a big play with it.”
And … the nickname?
“They call me ‘Fly Guy,’” Duran said with a smile.
OK, Fly Guy.
Duran’s opening kickoff return set Prep up at the Sheehan 10-yard line, but the Jesuits stalled right there and Murray McCarthy kicked a 20-yard field goal to give Prep a quick 3-0 lead. Bogan’s TD burst with 11:16 to play in the second put the Titans on top — for about three minutes as Doug Harrison powered in from the two-yard line to put Prep back on top 9-7 with 8:46 left in the half.
Duran’s 37-yard TD catch with 1:48 left made it 16-7 Prep and after a quick Sheehan 3-and-out, the Jesuits got the ball back at the Titans 42. Three Iaropoli completions for 41 yards later, Harrison scored from the one with just five seconds left in the half to give Prep a 23-7 lead.
“We’ve been working on special teams a lot,” said Duran. “I mean, that kick return was big to get the game going and it set up our first half, which was very strong.”
A 38-yard scoring pass from Sheehan QB Weston Terzi to Aaron Simmons with 5:18 left in the third quarter, pulled the Titans within 23-14 but that’s where the scoring ended.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, starting from its own 1-yard line, Prep put together a 14-play drive that ate over seven and a half minutes of clock, finally giving the ball back to the Titans with just four minutes left. The closest they could get was the Prep 31 before turning the ball over on downs with 2:09 to play.
“Prep is very physical, they run to the football, they’re fast … we saw all that on film,” Sheehan coach John Ferrazzi said. “We knew they were going to be the best defense we’ve seen so far. We just couldn’t get enough going when we needed to.”
Iraopoli completed his last 11 passes of the first half for 143 yards, after a pair of incompletions and an interception to open his night. He finished 13 for 22 for 167 yards.
FAIRFIELD PREP 23, SHEEHAN 14
FAIRFIELD PREP 3 20 0 0 — 0
SHEEHAN 0 7 7 0 — 0
Records: Fairfield Prep (2-1), Sheehan (3-0)
FP — Murray McCarthy, 20-yard field goal
S — Terrance Bogan, 38-yard run (Justin Moore kick)
FP — Doug Harrison, 2-yard run (kick failed)
FP — Finn Duran, 37-yard pass from John Iaropili (McCarthy kick)
FP — Harrison, 1-yard run (McCarthy kick)
S — Aaron Simmons, 38-yard pass from Weston Terzi (Moore kick)