high school Football Panthers pounce early
FAIRFIELD — Coming into Saturday’s game against Notre Dame-Fairfield, Masuk coach Joe Lato was close to being sick to his stomach. Especially after watching his Panthers go through their Friday workout.
“(Friday) We struggled,” Lato said. “Lots of mistakes, distractions … “I’m always worried. I had a stomach ache coming into this game. I was worried about Notre Dame, definitely.”
He didn’t have to worry. Masuk put that lackluster practice behind them, came out on Saturday like gangbusters against the overmatched Lancers and rolled to a 48-8 victory behind the five-touchdown passing performance of Panthers quarterback Thomas Juliano.
“We really wanted to work on passing today, working side to side, threading the needle through the defense,” Juliano said. “It worked well today.”
Juliano threw scoring passes of 21, 10, 14, 20 and 61 yards as he finished the day completing 13 of 17 for 191 yards.
“We knew that it was going to be a heavy passing day,” Juliano said. “Credit to my O line for blocking and the receivers for catching all the balls.”
“That’s always the game plan,” Lato said. “To try and kick it around and give everyone something to eat and play our game.”
Masuk (2-2) spread the wealth around against the Lancers (0-4) with six different runners and six different receivers making plays to drive the Panthers machine. In addition to totaling close to 300 yards in total offense, special teams and defense also shined as Masuk recorded five sacks — two each from Sam Peduto and Colin Meropoulos - and blocked three ND punts. Deric DeAngelis had two of those blocks.
“We did a good job as a unit to play together today,” Juliano said. “We did well overall.”
A Notre Dame fumble on the game’s first offensive play gave Masuk the ball and the Lancers 35 and three plays later, Juliano found Hunter Pompa for a 21-yard touchdown pass less than a minute in. The first of six Nolan McCarter extra points made it 7-0. A 10-yard scoring pass from Juliano to Daniel Verrastro made it 14-0 and a 14-yard TD strike to Pompa made it 21-0 after the first quarter.
Chris Tillotson caught a 20-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to build the Panthers lead to 28-0 and Kevin Luke went seven yards to score to make it 35-0 at halftime.
On the first play of the third quarter, Juliano hooked up with Henry Minnick for 61 yards and a touchdown as the lead grew to 41-0. And when Nicholas Saccu went three yards into the end zone, it was 48-0 Panthers.
To its credit, the Lancers kept fighting and went 75 yards in 13 plays to finally score as Nehemiah Harris powered in from seven yards out and added the conversion run to make it 48-8.
“It’s something to build on … we’re so young, we’re pretty banged up,” ND coach John Johnson said. “We only dressed 21 kids today, I’m hoping with this bye week coming up we can get some of those guys healthy and playing.
“Our young guys are getting a lot of experience, we have three or four freshmen on the field and four or five sophomores on the field … those are guys that are getting put into situations that guys that age typically aren’t put in. It’s good experience for the future. The future’s bright, we just have to keep working on the fundamentals and just get better as a program.”
MASUK 48, NOTRE DAME-FAIRFIELD 8
MASUK 21 14 13 0—48
ND-FAIRFIELD 0 0 0 8—8
Records: Masuk (2-2, 2-1 SWC); ND-Fairfield (0-4, 0-3)
M - Hunter Pompa, 21 pass from Thomas Juliano (Nolan McCarter kick)
M - Daniel Verrastro, 10 pass from Juliano (McCarthy kick)
M - Pompa, 14 pass from Juliano (McCarthy kick)
M - Christopher Tillotson, 20 pass from Juliano (McCarthy kick)
M - Kevin Luke, 4 run (McCarthy kick)
M - Henry Minnick, 61 pass from Juliano (kick blocked)
M - Nicholas Saccu, 3 run (McCarthy kick)
ND - Nehemiah Harris, 7 run (Harris run)