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

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.

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