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Fairfield Prep vs. West Haven CIAC Thanksgiving Football Game.

FAIRFIELD — Fairfield Prep coach Keith Hellstern has seen his team improve week-on-week. The Jesuits may be exactly where they need to be as the postseason approaches.

The Jesuits, best known as a running team this season, relied on their passing game along with a stingy defense to defeat top-ranked and previously undefeated West Haven 21-6 on Wednesday night at Rafferty Stadium in Fairfield.

The Jesuits (Tier I) won the Southern Connecticut Conference Tier Champions battle by defeating West Haven (Tier 2). West Haven leads the series 17-10.

“We played a very controlled game, that’s what we wanted,” said Hellstern after his team had improved to 7:3. “West Haven is an exceptional team. They have a lot of talent on the field and they are explosive. We had to make sure we played to our strengths. We have tried to do our best to limit yours. The guys put it together. I couldn’t be prouder.”

As of Wednesday night, the result provisionally pushed West Haven to third place in the LL class, while the Jesuits finished fifth with no games until Thanksgiving.

The Jesuits played as perfect a game as possible, particularly in the first half by holding West Haven on downs twice within the prep 10. Conversely, Prep’s offense capitalized on their chances, taking a 14-0 lead in the first half and never looking back.

With a 7-0 lead on a 4-yard touchdown run by Malachi Mercer-Robinson 1 minute, 26 seconds into the second quarter, it looked like the Jesuits would take the 7-0 lead at halftime.

However, the Jesuits reversed the script. Tyler Smith hit Timothy Hartnett for 40 yards to the West Haven 30, then two games later the duo reconnected for a 25-yard total and a 14-0 lead with 41 seconds at the half.

“We definitely ran the ball consistently on that 40-yard pass, and that game action into that throw was definitely a turning point for us,” Smith said. “They thought we were going to run like that throwing, two in a row to Tre (Hartnett), yelling to Tre, great catches, so that was the changer for us.”

The Jesuits continued their stellar effort in the second half, limiting West Haven, who were averaging 45 points per game, to just 103 yards and 217 overall in the game.

Fairfield Prep limited West Haven to just 83 yards in play and held West Haven quarterback Nick Conlan to just 134 yards on a 19-of-29 pass.

“Our offensive line and our running backs did a great job,” said Hellstern. “They set the tone for us physically up front for us and on the defensive line. We played really hard and had a lot of weapons ready for them.”

Prep iced the game with 1:54 remaining when Mercer-Robinson scored his second touchdown of the game, this time from 24 yards.
West Haven finally got on the scoreboard after Armani Reid fielded the Westies at the Prep 30 after a long kickoff return. Three games later, Conlan scored