By MICHAEL LETENDRE
HAMDEN – The St. Paul and Hamden Hall football teams played an entertaining affair in a pre-Thanksgiving Day battle from Hamden in a non-league event.
Both teams held the advantage numerous times and at one point, it seemed like either squad could pull out the victory.
But in the end, St. Paul quarterback Logan Marchi found Daija Fitzpatrick with a 25-yard touchdown pass with 59 seconds to go in the contest as the Falcons seized a 55-48 victory over Hamden Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 21.
Marchi nearly made 50 passes on the evening and completed 28-of-49 throws for a blazing 449 yards and threw for seven touchdowns.
He also had a 6-yard TD run as the junior capped off a sensational year in the victorious effort.
Then, there was a boatload of receivers who made the elusive Marchi look like a million bucks as well.
Reid Morin made seven catches for 210 yards and scored three touchdowns, Brendan Carroll caught 10 passes for three touchdowns while the crafty Fitzpatrick took in eight catches for 110 yards, good for one touchdown.
The Falcons finished its campaign with a 3-7 ledger, a two-game improvement from last season.
Hall’s quarterback, T.J. Linta, was also a force on the evening with a 413 yard passing game, going 20-of-34 on the evening, capturing five touchdowns while throwing only one interception.
Hamden Hall receiver Michael Breuler made eight receptions for 166 yards while Mike Whalen snathed four passes for 101 yards.
Linta also added 97 yards on the ground along with two touchdowns for Hamden, ending the season at an even 5-5.
The squads combined for 103 points and the contest was up for grabs from the start.
The Hornets scored first in the game but off a 29-yard touchdown reception by Morin, the contest was quickly knotted at 7-7.
But Linta found Breuler for a 42-yard TD strike as Hamden went in front 14-7 with less than 2:00 left in the first frame.
In the second frame, St. Paul tied the score, loss the lead again but then surged ahead by a point to close out the half.
Brendan Carroll snatched a 9-yard pass for a score while Linta found Whalen for a 68-yard touchdown as the Falcons trailed 20-14 midway through the second period.
Finally, Morin scored again and off a 39-yard catch at the buzzer, St. Paul went in front 21-20 at intermission.
But off a three yard sprint into the end zone by Linta, Hamden led again 26-21 just 2:39 into the third quarter.
The Falcons scored two additional times – off an eight -yard touchdown sprint by Marchi and off a quick 14 pass to Carroll for seven more points – as St. Paul gathered a 34-26 edge with 5:33 left in the third stanza.
But another Linta touchdown reception – a 66-yard spiral to Breuler – and his own one-yard mad dash into the St. Paul goal, the Hornets led 40-34 with just 12 minutes left in the showdown.
And wouldn’t you know it, St. Paul regained the lead again – this time to open the final frame of action.
Carroll caught his second nine-yard touchdown reception of the game and off an extra-point kick by Geun Park, the Falcons were in control of the quarter, leading 41-40 with 10:10 remaining on the scoreboard.
Quickly, Hamden’s Dylan Millhouse zipped in a 47-yard catch from Linta and off a critical two-point conversion – with Breuler taking in a pass from Linta – Hall went up 48-41.
Looking up at a seven-point deficit, the Falcons manned right up and Morin snatched a 31-yard touchdown pass from Marchi as the game became a 48-47 affair with Hamden just hanging on by a thread.
St. Paul went looking for the lead off the Morin TD and attempted a quick little pass into the end zone.
But the attempt failed and with just under four minutes to play, the Falcons still trailed by a point.
Off a missed opportunity by Hamden Hall, the Falcons made one last drive to cram in a game-winning score.
That’s when Fitzpatrick’s name was called.
Marchi found the elusive receiver for a 25-yard touchdown and with just a minute remaining in the showdown and the Falcons’ lead was 53-48.
But Marchi ran through the Hamden Hall line for a two-point conversion as St. Paul led 55-48 and was firmly in control of the game.
Hall couldn’t generate one last score as the Falcons hung on for a seven-point road victory.
By MICHAEL LETENDRE