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Valley/OL falls short in Class S semis

Meriden - The clock was ticking down toward zero when Jimmy Fairfield-Sonn completed the final pass of a career that will forever live in program lore.

An otherwise innocuous 13-yard completion to Christopher Jean Pierre near the left sideline ended the game, but the enduring image is of Fairfield-Sonn, sprinting upfield next to his teammate, begging for a lateral that never came to keep alive a season that didn't want to end.

Third-seeded Valley Regional/Old Lyme stood toe-to-toe with No. 2 Holy Cross of Waterbury for 47 minutes and 38 seconds, until sophomore Kyle Broderick kicked a 20-yard field goal and Cody Schmeer added an interception return as the Crusaders advanced to the CIAC Class S championship game with a 23-14 win at Falcon Field.

They'll play No. 8 Cromwell, a 35-19 winner over Northwest Catholic, this weekend at Rentschler Field.

"We played a great football team and played a great game and they came up, realistically, three points better than us," Valley coach Tim King said. "Not taking anything away from the other (semifinal) game but I want to say I think this was the state title game."

Holy Cross (11-2) started its final drive at its own 30-yard line with less than five minutes left and moved inside the Valley 4 with under a minute left, covering 66 yards on 12 plays.

"We just started running out of gas and they started wearing us down at the end, pounding us down," King said. "They're a big, strong team and they started wearing us down on that last drive, but we played our hearts out."

On fourth-and-1, Holy Cross coach Mike Giampetruzzi sent in Broderick, who kicked the game-winner with 22 seconds left in regulation to go up 17-14. He had missed a 25-yarder with 37 seconds left in the first half.

"All along, we knew he'd make a kick at some point," Giampetruzzi said.

The Warriors (10-2) tried a trick play on their ensuing possession, but Schmeer intercepted a Jean-Luc Poulard pass intended for Fairfield-Sonn and returned it 42 yards for the final score.

Valley, which led by a touchdown twice in the first half, scored on its first possession, going 77 yards on 13 plays before Fairfield-Sonn (24 carries, 118 yards) scored from eight yards out.

Fairfield-Sonn intercepted a pass on Holy Cross' first possession, but the drive stalled, and a quick kick pinned the Crusaders inside the 5-yard line.

It took them just three plays to go 96 yards, with Dave DiGiorgi (21 carries, 192 yards) scoring from 43 yards out.

Valley answered, with Fairfield-Sonn completing a 36-yard pass to Jean Pierre on third down before taking it in himself from three yards out.

Valley's Ben Roche recovered a Holy Cross fumble inside the 10-yard line to start the second half, and the Warriors came out with Poulard at quarterback and Fairfield-Sonn at tailback.

"They were keying so much on Jimmy and (running back) Jordan (Saintil) was so banged up," King explained. "We've done that package before. We were hoping to take some pressure off (Jimmy)."

Valley picked up four first downs on the drive, but stalled at the Holy Cross 40.

After the game, Fairfield-Sonn talked about what the past few years, which have included back-to-back semifinal appearances and an unbeaten regular season last year, has meant.

"Coming in freshman year, our group of seniors wanted to legitimize the program," he said. "We all go back to Pop Warner football. I'm thinking about those 10 other seniors and how much I'm going to miss them after this."

o.poole@theday.com

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