By Dave Ruden
MILFORD — The New Canaan offense was held to a season-low output in its 17-0 win over North Haven on Saturday afternoon at Jonathan Law High School in the semifinal round of the Class L playoffs.
But the Rams made enough big plays when they had to, and succeeded in part by making use of the strategy the Indians had ridden.
New Canaan rushed for 257 yards and, in a statistic North Haven needed to win, held a 27:54-20:06 edge in time of possession.
“They were only putting five in the box and so we were taking what they were giving us,” said New Canaan quarterback Nick Cascione. “They were taking away the passing lanes, which they did a great job of, and we kept running the ball.”
Frank Cognetta, a gritty runner between the tackles who has had a marvelous season, led the way with 142 yards on 26 carries. Cascione ran for 76 yards, while Morgan Carson added 36, including the game-clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“It’s the spread offense,” Marinelli said. “You try to spread them out and force them to cover everybody. They had five guys in the box so we ran out of that. I was surprised because their linebackers are tough guys.”
In a sense, the run set up the Rams’ passing game, and the most effective play of the day was seam passes from Cascione to sophomore Kyle Smith, who had 4 catches for 148 yards. His 70-yard reception in the second quarter led to Peter Swindell’s 30-yard field goal that made the score 10-0.
“That play worked really well,” Cascione said. “They made adjustments at the half to take that away from us. Credit to them for taking those plays away from us. We were able to take advantage of it when it was there.”
Cascione completed 8 of 18 passes for 205 yards. Alex LaPolice had 3 catches, including a 15-yard score in the first quarter.
“We did enough to get the win,” Cascione said. “They’re a great team and their style of offense really works for them. They went up and down the field on us but the defense kept the zero on the scoreboard, and that’s the ultimate goal so credit to them. Getting to the state championship has been our goal all season.”