Needing to win to stay in contention for the Class L playoffs, Cheshire High School football (6-3) used key plays on defense and in special teams on Saturday to post a 26-0 shutout at Xavier (3-6) in Middletown. The Rams won the turnover battle, 3-0, and scored all of their points in the second and third quarters.
Defense was the story early, as both teams went scoreless in the opening quarter, but momentum shifted quickly in the second. Xavier fumbled a punt and senior Denes Lulo recovered the ball for the Rams.
CHS capitalized on the turnover when sophomore quarterback Aniston Marsh found Matt Jeffery on the sideline, who made a couple of spin moves on the way to reaching the end zone with 11:06 remaining in the second. The 34-yard pass was the first touchdown for sophomore quarterback Aniston Marsh, who made his first start on Saturday.
Jeffery scored again with 4:39 left in the second. After faking a hand-off to sophomore Coryon Harris, Jeffery broke outside and then made a multiple cuts on the way to a 42-yard touchdown run.
Defensively, Jeffery made an interception in the second, as well.
The turnover led to a 26-yard field goal by senior Micah Galloza with 26 seconds left in the opening half.
Cheshire continued to be opportunistic in the second half. On the opening kick-off of the third quarter, Xavier had a fumble and Galloza fell on the ball for CHS.
The Rams turned the miscue into a five-yard touchdown run by junior Jeffery Gonzalez with 9:07 remaining in the third.
The CHS defense wrapped up the scoring. After Jeffery punted the ball to the Xavier 4-yard line, senior Brett Rochford sacked Xavier sophomore quarterback Samuel Andrea in the end zone for a safety with 6:08 left in the third.
On the defensive line, Rochford and junior Evan Russo created pressure all day with sacks and hurries.
The Rams allowed just 83 yards in earning their third shutout of the year. Cheshire didn’t give up a first down until mid-way through the second quarter.
*34-yard touchdown pass from Marsh to Jeffery (11:06) 7-0, CHS
Point after touchdown by Galloza was good
*42-yard touchdown run by Jeffery (4:39) 14-0, CHS
PAT by Galloza was good
*26-yard field goal by Galloza (26 seconds) 17-0, CHS
*5-yard touchdown run by Gonzalez (9:07) 24-0, CHS
PAT by Galloza was good
*Safety by Rochford (6:08) 26-0, CHS
For the regular-season finale on Thanksgiving, Cheshire hosts Southington (8-1) in the 26th Apple Valley Classic at 10 a.m.
With nine straight wins in the series, Southington has a 16-9 lead in the holiday match-up.