NEW MILFORD — After spending five straight years on one side of the lake, the Candlewood Cup moved across to the other side Tuesday night.
The New Milford High School football team wrestled the coveted trophy away from rival New Fairfield with a 37-0 victory in front of a large and spirited crowd, with fans from both towns packing the bleachers on both sides of the field and standing shoulder-to-shoulder along the fence.
“We haven’t had it for a while, and we finally brought it back,” New Milford junior running back Kendall Greene said. “We’re sending the seniors off with The Cup.”
Those five years without the Candlewood Cup were rough for New Milford, which suffered five straight Thanksgiving losses by a combined score of 188-54. That included last year’s 57-8 setback and a 31-7 loss in 2015 in which New Fairfield clinched the South-West Conference championship on New Milford soil on Thanksgiving Day.
“We’ve been getting blown out these past few years, but this year, it was our turn to win,” New Milford senior quarterback Tyler Sullivan said. “It just feels great.”
Sullivan completed 19 passes for 312 yards and four touchdown passes, while being sacked twice for a loss of 13 and intercepted once. Sullivan threw two scoring strikes to Kendall Greene — one on a swing pass that went for 29 yards and the other on a deep ball over the middle that went for 74 yards — and one each to Austin Swanson and Justin Hallas, while Matt Brevard and Nate Capriglione both ran for touchdowns. The Green Wave erupted for 31 points in the second half after taking a 6-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.
“We played tough for a while, but it wasn’t enough,” New Fairfield coach Anthony Fata said. “We couldn’t get anything going on the ground — we did, but only in spurts — and we killed ourselves with penalties. Basically, what we did today is what we did all year.
“You can’t hold onto that Cup forever,” Fata continued. “Every now and then, the other team is going to win. It’s been great, the run that we’ve had with The Cup, but now it give the team next year a chance to get it back.”
New Fairfield senior Randy Benitez rushed 14 times for 89 yards, including 73 yards in the second half.
“Randy played hard all year,” Fata said. “It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t get him going earlier, but New Milford did a nice job defensively.”
Every time New Milford kicks the ball off, it’s an onside kick. So, it was no surprise to anyone on either sideline when the Green Wave used an onside kick to start the second half. When Nishan Parikh recovered the loose ball for New Milford, however, the complexion of the game changed on a dime. Six plays later, Greene caught a swing pass from Sullivan and raced 29 yards for a touchdown to make it 13-0 New Milford.Read Full Article
The Green Wave was off and running from there.
“That probably set our whole second-half drive up,” Sullivan said. “All the blood was flowing, and everyone was energized at that point.”
An interception by Swanson on the New Milford 17-yard line on the Rebels’ ensuing possession set up New Milford’s next score, Sullivan’s 74-yard laser over the middle to Greene, who made a few nifty moves in the secondary on his way into the end zone to make it 19-0.
Later in the third quarter, a sack by Michael Heymach on fourth down got New Milford the ball back and set the stage for Brevard’s nine-yard scoring scamper, which came one play after he had hauled in a 28-yard pass from Sullivan.
New Fairfield’s ensuing drive stalled at the New Milford 7 when Rebels quarterback Will Enright fired incomplete on fourth-and-goal. Christopher Pesantez had made a big tackle for a loss of one on second down — he had several of those in the game — and Hunter Skelly broke up a pass play on third down.
The Wave took over on downs and marched 93 yards for its next score, a four-yard touchdown pass from Sullivan to Hallas, one play after Sullivan and Brevard connected for a 78-yard gain.
Capriglione scored the final touchdown on an eight-yard run.
New Milford’s first score of the game was also set up by a big defensive play. An interception by Parikh gave the Wave the ball on the New Fairfield 29. Five plays later, Sullivan hooked up with Swanson on a five-yard touchdown pass to put New Milford ahead 6-0.
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