New Canaan Knocks Off Windsor, 27-24, With Last Second Field Goal

New Canaan's Collin Shapiro kicked the game-winner with 4.2 seconds remaining.

New Canaan's Collin Shapiro knocked a game-winning, 33-yard field goal through the uprights with 4.2 seconds remaining in regulation, Saturday, giving the Rams a 27-24 victory over top-seeded Windsor and a spot in the CIAC Class L State Championship game.

Shapiro's kick capped a 20-point comeback by the Rams', and signed-off on Windsor's first loss of the season.

"If you get nervous you're going to miss [the kick]," said Shapiro after New Canaan's win. 

"Your whole form just goes to crap once you start freaking out. You just have to remain calm... I pretended I was just with my dad in practice over the summer, and it worked."

Shapiro and New Canaan's ability to maintain their composure throughout the game Saturday proved to make the difference, as the Rams found the game slipping away from them early on.

Although they put the first points on the board, New Canaan's offense was swiftly thrown off track by a swarming Windsor defense in the first half.

Up 7-3 late in the first quarter, New Canaan senior quarterback Matt Milano dropped back and threw an errant pass over the middle that was intercepted by Windsor's Brendan Gayle. The pick was the first of four Milano would throw Saturday.

Windsor failed to turn the turnover into points, but New Canaan gave the ball away on its very next possession on a fumble, which was recovered and returned 10 yards for a touchdown by Windsor safety Aaron Berardino.

Berardino's score put Windsor up 10-3, and it was just the spark the Warriors needed to get the ball rolling.

Windsor (11-1) would score twice more in the next two minutes — first on an 83-yard pass from Quinn Fleeting to Ryheime Moore, and then on a 38-yard interception return by Gayle, putting Windsor up 24-7 midway through the second quarter.

With New Canaan (11-1) back on its heels, Windsor seemed to have the game in its hands. Then everything changed.

On the ensuing drive, New Canaan went 68 yards in 2 minutes to cut Windsor's lead down to 11 — the first of the Rams' 20 unanswered points.

Windsor was never able to recover.

Mistakes changed everything, said Windsor Coach Rob Fleeting.

"Every play someone missed an assignment, and when that happens, it's a problem."

Despite gaining 225 yards of total offense in the first half, Windsor finished the game with 216 total yards.

New Canaan also stopped the Warriors, who have No. 9 scoring offense in the state, from scoring an offensive touchdown on five trips to the red zone.

Windsor's defense, however, was a different story. The unit, which has been the star of the previously-undefeated team, gave Windsor every opportunity to put the game away.

Windsor forced five New Canaan turnovers, including four interceptions. Milano had thrown four interceptions all year coming into Saturday's matchup.

"I could not have asked for a better game from our defense," said Fleeting. 

"They defended us so well," said New Canaan Coach Lou Marinelli. "This is not the first time New Canaan has faced a Rob Fleeting-coached team, and every time we face him, he gives us fits. He is one of the best coaches in the state."

New Canaan's coaching staff proved itself to be top notch as well, attempting to take anything the Windsor defense would give it by relying on the run in the second half.

"We did want to [run] the ball because they really had our passing game down. Especially towards the end," said Marinelli.

Pound it they did. Despite losing its starting guard and one of its best running backs to injuries during the game, New Canaan finished with 153 rushing yards, and scored all three of its touchdowns on the ground.

Gaining four and five yards a clip, at times, New Canaan was able to control the clock and keep the ball out of Windsor's possession, particularly in setting up Shapiro's kick in the final seconds.

The loss for Windsor does away with its dream of reaching the CIAC championship game for the second time in school history. 

Windsor lost to Ridgefield in the championship game in 2002.

"I'm really proud of my kids," said Fleeting. "We're going to work hard in the off season and we'll be back."

New Canaan's win sends them back to the title game for the sixth straight year, including four straight Class MM championships.

Marinelli said he can't believe it's his team's sixth consecutive shot to win the title.

"I must be one of the luckiest guys in the world. It's hard to do."

New Canaan lost to Masuk, 50-20, last year.

The Rams won't get a chance for a rematch, however. Masuk, led by Connecticut's 2010 and 2011 Gatorade Player of the Year, Casey Cochran, was upset by Daniel Hand, 35-14, Saturday night.

New Canaan will play Hand at Rentschler Field on either December 9 or 10.


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