Down to the wire, St. Paul just misses win

BRISTOL – Once again, the Derby and St. Paul high school football teams engaged in a classic battle which came down to the wire on Friday night, Sept. 12.
The Red Raiders and Falcons combined to score 85 total points and that’s been the norm when the squads get together.
And in the end, St. Paul’s early edge didn’t hold as – for the second consecutive year – Derby put together a huge run to come from behind, defeating the Falcons 46-39 in a Naugatuck Valley League encounter in Bristol.
It was the home opener for St. Paul and the squad did very well to open the game, running up the score, and keeping the Red Raiders off-balance as the Falcons led 19-0 in the opening seconds of the second period.
St. Paul’s Eli Parks opened the game with a 53 yard touchdown jaunt for a score and then receiver Brendan Carroll scooped up a 57 yard pass from quarterback Pat Etter as the Falcons led 13-0 with 6:54 remaining in the first quarter.
And just six seconds into the second stanza, Etter snuck the ball into the end zone off a four yard zip as St. Paul’s 19-0 tally was firmly in place.
However, that lead did not last.
Derby closed the half with 13 straight points as QB Michael Krieger found Peter D’Antona for an 85 yard TD strike while the chucker ran the ball in himself off a 20 yard sprint and with 37 seconds left in the first half and the Red Raiders had the deficit trimmed to 19-13.
In the third stanza, Derby kept the Falcons off the board and scored three consecutive times to take control of the contest.
Ben Slowik scored twice off drives of 64 and 55 yards to propel Derby to a 25-19 lead that would not be relinquished.
Krieger found Jake Finnecun for a 21 yard touchdown score and with 4:32 left to go in the third tilt, the Red Raiders held a firm 31-19 lead.
Twenty-two seconds into the final quarter, Derby scored once again to size up a 38-19 cushion.
But with 11:38 remaining in the game, the Falcons made a real run at it – never quitting until the bitter end.
The Falcons scored off consecutive runs as Daija Fitzpatrick snuck one in for a three yard TD and later, Etter went in for six off a five yard dash and suddenly, St. Paul was in striking distance and trailed by just a 38-32 score with 4:19 left to play.
But Krieger made it academic as he flipped Brian Elliason a 45 yard touchdown pass and with 2:16 showing on the clock, Derby’s lead grew to 46-32.
The Falcons kicked one more score in as Etter found Carroll for a three yard touchdown connection and the game was a one-possession affair again, this time at 46-39 with 14 seconds to go.
But that’s as close as St. Paul could get as it dropped a heartbreaking 46-39 decision.   
Etter had an excellent debut game as he connected on 22-of-33 passes for 359 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 29 yards off five carries for two scores.
Park tabbed 78 yards off the power of 22 carries while three receivers had outstanding days on the field.
Carroll caught nine passes for 176 yards, Fitzpatrick nabbed 100 yards off eight receptions and Ben Pryor made four connections with Etter for 46 yards of offense.