Published December 07. 2012 6:00PM Updated December 07. 2012 11:40PM
East Hartford — DeAngelo Berry rushed for 260 yards and three touchdowns as third-seeded Xavier won its third straight Class LL state football championship Friday night with a 48-14 victory over No. 5 Norwich Free Academy before 4,576 at Rentschler Field.
The Falcons (12-1) dominated the second half, outscoring the Wildcats (12-1) 28-0.
Xavier, which outgained NFA 517-169, broke the game open in the third quarter by converting back-to-back turnovers into touchdowns to take a commanding 34-14 lead.
Kris Luster's 22-yard touchdown run with 41 seconds left in the quarter came on the very next play after a Ryer Caruso pass was picked off. Earlier in the quarter, NFA starting quarterback Joey Paparelli also was intercepted, leading to Berry's four-yard TD win with 5:38 left in the quarter.
Paparelli threw a pair of touchdown passes to Caruso in the final 1:56 of the first half as NFA, which trailed 20-0 early, pulled to within 20-14 at the break.
Paparelli's 49-yard TD strike to Caruso pulled the fifth-seeded Wildcats' to within 20-7, and after Airec Ricks recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Paparelli and Caruso hooked up again from six yards out with one second left in the half to make it 20-14.
NFA's Elisa Formiglio kicked both extra points, becoming the first female athlete in state history to score a point in a state championship football game.
Khaleed Exum-Strong rushed for 90 yards on 12 carries for the Wildcats, but star running back Marcus Outlow suffered a left leg injury on the first series of the game and never was a factor. He did return after missing most of the first half but finished with only 7 yards on six carries.