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New Fairfield ousts Ledyard 13-0 in Class M state football semis

New Fairfield — Ledyard had a first-and-goal at the New Fairfield 8-yard line late in Monday night’s CIAC Class M football playoff semifinal game.

Rarely has eight yards seemed so infinite.

New Fairfield’s defense snuffed out one of the Colonels’ rare chances to score and finished with as dominating a 13-0 win as one will ever see.

The second-seeded Rebels held the Colonels to three first downs and 70 total yards.

“They were just freakin’ sick,” Ledyard senior quarterback Ty Ebdon said. “So fast, so big, so strong.”

The third-seeded Colonels finished 10-2.

“They were big, tough, physical,” Ledyard coach Jim Buonocore said. “They put pressure on us when we were throwing the ball. They played outstanding gap integrity.

“Their physical-ness, their size, it was as advertised.”

Senior tight end-linebacker Collin Krauth recovered two fumbles for the Colonels and Justin Carter added an interception.

New Fairfield (11-1) will play in its first state final on Saturday against South-West Conference rival Brookfield at West Haven High (10:30 a.m.).

The fifth-seeded Bobcats routed the Eastern Connecticut Conference’s other semifinalist, top-seeded Killingly, 34-13. Brookfield, which won the Class M-Large championship last season, opened the season with a 27-13 win over the Rebels.

“After that Brookfield game, we said we’re going to see you in the championship,” New Fairfield senior running back-linebacker James Lewis said.

The elimination of Killingly and Ledyard extends the ECC’s state championship drought to seven years, the longest it’s gone without a state title.

Rebels senior running back Zach Tripodi started despite questions about his status. He was knocked out with a shoulder injury before halftime of New Fairfield's Dec. 1 quarterfinal win over St. Joseph, and head coach Anthony Fata said he was “50-50” to play.

Yeah, right.

Tripodi ran on 31 of New Fairfield’s 47 offensive plays, finishing with 229 yards and a touchdown.

“It’s okay,” Tripodi said of his shoulder. “It’s more of a mental thing, I guess. ... We’re all good.”

Michael Handlmaier added field goals of 38 and 33 yards for the Rebels.

It was remarkable that Ledyard only allowed 13 points given that the defense was on the field so much. New Fairfield finished with 324 yards.

“The fact that we held them to 13 points is pretty amazing,” Krauth said. “The only time they scored was two big plays, so our defense really held, and I’m proud of each and every one of them.”

Tripodi ran for a 43-yard touchdown just three minutes, 30 seconds into the game.

It was more than the New Fairfield defense needed.

“We’re just a more physical and stronger team than they were,” Rebels senior two-way lineman Russell Howard said.

Carter’s interception gave the Colonels the ball at the New Fairfield 18 with 6:02 left in the first half.

Ledyard got as far as the 15 as it went four-and-out. New Fairfield’s Rudy Sarro intercepted the ball in the end zone on fourth down.

Krauth recovered his second fumble at the Rebels’ 32 with over six minutes left in the game and Ledyard trailing 13-0.

Carter snuck out of the backfield and caught a 21-yard pass from Ebdon to give the Colonels first-and-goal from the New Fairfield 8.

Ledyard could only gain two yards before turning it over on downs.

The Colonels' senior class finished their high school careers with three playoff appearances, including a trip to last season’s Class M-Small final.

“Getting to the playoffs three years in a row, you don’t always expect to win,” Krauth said, “but I expect to win and I want to win. We all wanted to win.

“I think we put up a good fight.”

n.griffen@theday.com

Twitter: @MetalNED

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