Football: Falcons dominate on Thanksgiving

Joel Barlow High’s Will Reed is pursued by Weston’s Jack Sawyer during the Thanksgiving Day football game on Thursday, Nov. 23. Barlow won the annual contest 50-14. — Scott Mullin photo

Keeping its opponent guessing would pay huge dividends for the Joel Barlow High football team on Thanksgiving.

The Falcons used their triple option offense quite effectively when they visited Weston on Thursday, Nov. 23. Having a number of athletes who can carry the ball, they racked up the yards in a 50-14 win in the annual contest.

This marks the 22nd time the two teams have faced each other in the annual contest. Weston still leads the series 10-8-4.

The victory not only earned Barlow a spot in the state Class M tournament for the first time since 2013, it clinched its first-ever South-West Conference Division II title.

“I think we kept them guessing,” said Barlow head coach Rob Tynan, whose team had three players rush for more than 100 yards apiece. “That’s been our good thing all season.”

Both teams stumbled on their first possessions. An interception by Barlow’s Trevor Furrer cut short the Trojans’ opening drive and Weston’s Finn Stuebe recovered a fumble.

The Falcons then got busy. After a Weston punt, the visitors used a 40-yard run by Will Cusick on the option for the score and with Mike Puglio’s extra-point kick the Falcons were up 7-0 with 5:42 left in the first quarter.

Following the kickoff the Trojans were pinned deep in their own territory. Barlow’s Calvin Peterson then brought down Patrick Stack in the end zone for the safety.

Although the Falcons again fumbled on their next series, Weston again went three and out to give them the ball back on their own 38. Runs by Furrer and Cusick got them into Weston territory to set up a 14-yard option run by Charlie Wilson, who later left the game with a dislocated elbow.

It remained a 16-0 game until the second quarter. Jason Baisley’s 38-yard punt was downed by Daniel Santa-Maria on the Barlow one but that did not stop the Falcons, who again found success with a 55-yard run up the middle by Peterson with 6:42 left in the half.

Following another Weston punt, the Falcons again started deep in their own territory. On first down, Peterson went 95 yards down the right side and after the extra point it was 30-0.

“They were guessing the whole game,” said Furrer. “That’s why we were so efficient at running the offense. We tried to keep our minds just on beating Weston and not what could happen if we won.”

Weston did respond in the time remaining. Jack Sawyer returned the ensuing kickoff 55 yards to the Barlow 15 before he was forced out of bounds by Will Reed. Baisley caught a 12-yard pass from James Goetz and the former later scored on a four-yard run to make it 30-6.

Stack blocked a punt on Barlow’s first series of the second half and Baisley smothered the ball on the eight to set up the Trojans’ final touchdown, coming on a one-yard run by Goetz, who also passed to Chris Fruhbeis for the two-point conversion.

The Barlow offense was far from finished. It found the end zone on each of its next three possessions.

The first ended on a one-yard run by Peterson. The extra point was blocked.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Will Cusick scored on the option from Furrer on a three-yard run. Finally, Dave Cusick finished the scoring with 31 seconds to go on a 12-yard run.

The Falcons finished with 653 yards rushing. Peterson had a big day in particular with 267 and three touchdowns.

Will Cusick had 130 with a pair of touchdowns and Furrer rushed for 114.

“We pitched the ball when we had to and Trevor does what Trevor does and gets us in the right plays and gets some good yards in himself,” said Tynan

He also praised the efforts of Barlow’s offensive line of Dan Brey, Will Denny, Cassidy Koopman, Sean Rego and Joe Francoletti for opening holes for Barlow’s rushers.

Defensively, Alex Stillman led in total tackles with 11. Peterson had nine and had one sack, while Henry Eubanks finished with two.

With its triple-option offense running in high gear for the second straight game, the sixth-seeded Falcons upset third-seeded Sheehan of Wallingford in the state Class M quarterfinals on Tuesday, Nov. 28.

The Falcons will host seventh-seeded. Sports Medicine and Sciences Academy/University/Career Magnet co-op on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. in the semifinals. Complete details will follow in the next issue.

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