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McMahon uses big fourth quarter to beat Norwalk

NORWALK -- In the fourth quarter on Thanksgiving morning, Brien McMahon wrested the momentum that Norwalk struggled mightily to attain in the third quarter. The Bears had drawn even after its offense had looked disconnected for much of the first half.

But high school football games don't end after 36 minutes. They finish up at 48 minutes with the final horn and McMahon saved its best play for the decisive fourth quarter.

The Senators scored three touchdowns in the final 12 minutes -- the go-ahead touchdown on Matthew Downey's 19-yard pass to David Daniel midway through the quarter -- posting a 35-14 victory at Jack Casagrande Field on their West Norwalk campus.

Timothy Hinton's second touchdown run of the game 127 seconds after Daniel's catch and Kentrell Snider's second touchdown on the day in the final two minutes left the final score more one-sided than the action on the field would have suggested.

McMahon won the Sam Testa Memorial Trophy for the second straight year, and wound up 2013 with a record of 8-2, just missing a berth in the CIAC Class LL quarterfinals. Norwalk finished at 4-7. The Senators lead the series 28-14-1.

McMahon's Allan Lenard, a TE/LB, and the Bears' Clifford Joseph, a fullback/linebacker, whose 15-yard carry for a touchdown had tied it at 7-7 in the second quarter, were named game MVPs for each side.

"People are going to see the final score and think it wasn't close, but it should've been 21-14 us," Norwalk coach Sean Ireland said. "We had the perfect play. Our receiver was open. It was a post (pass) play, and our guy just didn't catch it. We just didn't execute; they (Senators) did.

"We made some mistakes. They're a veteran team, we're not," Ireland said.

Norwalk fumbled five times -- four more after the game's opening play -- but recovered the ball only twice. Lenard pounced on free balls from the Bears two times for the Senators. Lenard made several solo tackles, assisted on many others and knocked down a pass. In the fourth quarter, perhaps aided by the wind being at the Senators' backs, Lenard hauled down receptions of 14 and 19 yards on the drive that culminated with Daniel's catch-and-run into the end zone.

Two of Norwalk's fumbles came early on during center-quarterback exchanges, said Ireland, who inserted Jared Smith at quarterback, which solved the problem. Smith got rid of the ball quickly when Norwalk elected to pass, and the Senators did not get much pressure on him. McMahon coach A.J. Albano reacted to McMahon's inability to harass Smith by asking Senators' pass rushers to lift their arms while pursuing him to cause a distraction.

But for as forceful Lenard was on both sides of the ball -- he punted effectively for the most part, too -- Norwalk's Joseph was a wrecking crew. At times, it appeared McMahon would need 12 tacklers to bring him down. A good chunk of Joseph's yardage came while carrying two or even three tacklers after they first enountered him.

Joseph compiled 106 yards on 18 carries, with 10 rushes for 82 yards in the first half. His third carry of the morning was a 42-yarder up the middle, then to the left sidelines where he lost a foot race. His 15-yard scoring run was set up by his own 15-yarder on the play before.

"Clifford Joseph is as hard a runner as we've seen all year," Albano said of the 5-foot-11, 200-pound Joseph. Twelve of Joseph's rushes were held to three yards or fewer, or for a loss.

"Our defense has kept us in games all year. It was fitting that it ended with our defense playing the way it did," Albano said. Norwalk tied at 14-14 in the third quarter when Hopeton Chambers blocked a McMahon punt deep in its territory, and Patrick Corley got on the loose ball in the end zone. Read Full Article 

McMahon's attack was primarily run oriented. "We run the ball, we run the ball," Albano said, "we wear them down, we wear them down. I could see them (Bears) get a little tired there at the end.

"We knew this was going to be a dog fight," Albano said.

rwalmark@bcnnew.com; 203-255-4561 ext. 113; twitter.com/ReidWalmark


NORWALK 0 7 7 0--14

MCMAHON 7 7 0 21--35

M--Kentrell Snider 1 run (Niko Petridis kick)

N--Clifford Joseph 15 run (Christian Frokaj kick)

M--Timothy Hinton 1 run (Petridis kick)

N--Patrick Corley blocked punt recovery (Frokaj kick)

M--David Daniel 19 pass Matthew Downey (Petridis kick)

M--Hinton 9 run (Petridis kick)

M--Snider 64 interception (Petridis kick)

Records: Norwalk 4-7, McMahon 8-2.

Reid L. Walmark