NFA stuns No. 1 Staples 30-28 to reach Class LL state final

Sean D. Elliot/The Day NFA's Ryer Caruso celebrates with teammates and fans the Wildcats' win over Staples in CIAC Class LL football semi-final action at Strong Stadium in West Haven Sunday, December 2, 2012. The Wildcats held-on for a 30-28 win over the top ranked Wreckers and advance to the class LL title game next weekend at Rentschler Field.

West Haven – Marcus Outlow converted a key fourth-and-one call from the Staples 46 with 1 minute, 23 seconds remaining and fifth-seeded Norwich Free Academy ran out the clock to score a stunning 30-28 victory over the top-seeded Wreckers on their Class LL state playoff semifinal game on Sunday afternoon at Ken Strong Stadium.

Staples (10-1) pulled within 30-28 on quarterback Joe Massie's 16-yard touchdown pass to James Frusciante with 3:15 seconds remaining, but a subsequent NFA punt hit the leg of a Staples player, the Wildcats (12-0) recovered, and proceeded to run out the clock.

NFA will play defending champion Xavier, a 30-13 winner of Glastonbury in Sunday's other semifinal, in the championship game either Friday or Saturday at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.

NFA had taken a 30-21 lead on a safety in the third quarter and Khaleed Exum-Strong's 2-yard touchdown run with 9:57 remaining in the game.

The game was tied 21-21 at halftime thanks to a six-yard TD run by Massie with 1:47 left in the first half.

Joey Paparelli's 38-yard touchdown pass to Ryer Caruso had given NFA a 21-14 just one minute earlier, and that score came only two minutes after Staples tied the game at 14-all on Patrick Lesch's 29-yard touchdown run.

Earlier, Paparelli scored from a yard out 32 seconds into the second quarter to give NFA a 14-7 lead. It was the first time the Wreckers had trailed in a game all season.

The expected fireworks started early with two touchdowns just 3:49 into the game. Massie threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to Frusciante just 1:18 into the game to give the Wreckers a 7-0 lead, but Ramel Williams broke free for a 32-yard touchdown run 2:37 later and Elisa Formiglio's extra point as tied the game at 7-7.

NFA's Airec Ricks (20) and Ramel Willams  (7) try to beat Staples' Jack Massie (16) to the ball in CIAC Class LL football semi-final action at Strong Stadium in West Haven Sunday, December 2, 2012. The Wildcats held-on for a 30-28 win over the top ranked Wreckers and advance to the class LL title game next weekend at Rentschler Field.
Sean D. Elliot/The Day NFA's Airec Ricks (20) and Ramel Willams (7) try to beat Staples' Jack Massie (16) to the ball in CIAC Class LL football semi-final action at Strong Stadium in West Haven Sunday, December 2, 2012. The Wildcats held-on for a 30-28 win over the top ranked Wreckers and advance to the class LL title game next weekend at Rentschler Field.
NFA's Calvin Green (44), Tuzar Skipper (90), Airec Ricks (20) and Ramel Wiliams (7) take down Staples' Patrick Lesch (25) in CIAC Class LL football semi-final action at Strong Stadium in West Haven Sunday, December 2, 2012. The Wildcats held-on for a 30-28 win over the top ranked Wreckers and advance to the class LL title game next weekend at Rentschler Field.
Sean D. Elliot/The Day NFA's Calvin Green (44), Tuzar Skipper (90), Airec Ricks (20) and Ramel Wiliams (7) take down Staples' Patrick Lesch (25) in CIAC Class LL football semi-final action at Strong Stadium in West Haven Sunday, December 2, 2012. The Wildcats held-on for a 30-28 win over the top ranked Wreckers and advance to the class LL title game next weekend at Rentschler Field.
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