Fitch holds on to beat Notre Dame 27-20

Groton — Mike Ellis couldn’t have dreamed up a better start to the season.

His Fitch football team, once again showing a flair for the dramatic, moved to 2-0 with a 27-20 win over Notre Dame of West Haven on Friday night at Dorr Field.

A week after opening the season with a 20-14 overtime win at Westerly, the Falcons never trailed against the Green Knights, who lost 29-12 to a strong Fairfield Prep team in their opener.

“I’m happy with the defense,’’ Ellis said. “When we watched the game against Fairfield Prep, we saw that they were able to move the ball pretty well against Prep.

"So for us to play that well is a good sign."

Fitch took a 27-14 lead when quarterback Tyler Nelli went up the middle for a 7-yard touchdown run, then added the extra point with 4:33 left in the game.

But the Falcons didn’t finish it off the easy way.

Notre Dame quarterback Chris Elias threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to Zackary Hochman on the first play from scrimmage. Jared Gallbronner’s PAT aattempt bounced off the crossbar, leaving Fitch with a 27-20 lead and 4:15 on the clock.

Fitch took 3:05 off the clock, but punted the ball away and Notre Dame took over with 1:10 left.

Then Fitch senior defensive back Antonyo Figueroa made sure there would be no comeback. He stepped in front of an Elias pass on first down and sealed the win with an interception.

“On film I noticed that (Elias) looked that way in a lot of situations,’’ Figueroa said. “I was waiting for it.’’

Nelli, a junior, gave Notre Dame fits running the option. He carried the ball 27 times for 89 yards and two touchdowns and was 4 of 6 passing for 133 yards.

“We work on (the option) really hard at practice,’’ Nelli said, “to get the reads and the timing down.’’

Junior running back Hamear Stephens rushed for 104 yards on 14 carries and opened the scoring with a 5-run touchdown run in the first quarter. Scott added 52 yards rushing on 10 carries.

Ellis sees the Eastern Connecticut Conference-Southern Connecticut Conference scheduling alliance as being a good thing for his team.

“If we want to compete at the state level then these are the kind of teams we have to play,’’ Ellis said.

d.davis@theday.com

 

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