By Joe Morelli
Special to CIACsports.com
MaxPreps photos by Kevin Pataky
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NEW BRITAIN, Conn. – Quarterback Rayshaun Phillips rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns to lead second-seeded Capital Prep/Achievement First to a 20-13 victory over No. 4 North Branford and the Class S-Small Division state championship Saturday at Arute Field.
Capital Prep (12-1) wins its first state championship in school history and the first for the Constitution State Conference.
“I think it means a lot for our program,” Capital Prep coach Chris Fulton said. “We play some quality teams and we have some quality coaches in our league. Obviously we don’t have as much depth, but it’s great for the league and great for us for sure.”
North Branford (11-2) was searching for its title since 1979 and has now lost in its last three attempts in the final.
“Turnovers really hurt us. We didn’t play our best game and Capital Prep played very well,” North Branford coach Mark Basil said.
The Trailblazers forced seven North Branford turnovers and held the Thunderbirds without a point in the second half. North Branford quarterback Paul Pastet was also sacked six times.
But the Thunderbirds were able to stop Phillips on consecutive goal-line rushes to get the ball back trailing by seven with 3:20 left.
North Branford was able to drive from its own 1 to the Capital Prep 27, then got pushed back due to a holding penalty and a sack. On fourth down and 33, Pastet (12 of 23, 162 yards hit Shelby Franklin (game-high 111 yards rushing) for a completion well short of the first-down marker.
But a live ball personal foul was called on Capital Prep, allowing the Thunderbirds to retain possession and now have a 4th and 2 from the 29. But Capital forced an incompletion to clinch the crown.
“The kids just keep bringing it. They keep persevering,” Fulton said.
Nick Sagnella (28 yards) and Pastet (1) had both rushing touchdowns for the Thunderbirds.
NB-Nick Sagnella 28 run (Andrew Sarmento kick), 7:05
CP-Rayshawn Phillips 4 run (kick failed), 4:08
NB-Paul Pastet 1 run (kick failed), 6:05
CP-Lamar Butler 18 blocked punt return (Jakob Vera pass from Phillips), 2:12
CP-Phillips 3 run (pass failed), 8:06
RUSHING: North Branford: Shelby Franklin 14-111, Nick Sagnella 3-43, Austin Calamita 4-36, Xavier Santiago 1-2. Capital Prep: Rayshawn Phillips 28-109, Jourdayne Ross 8-50, Lamar Butler 2-16, Michon Hunt 1-5.
PASSING: North Branford: Paul Pastet 12-23-2-162; Capital Prep: Rayshawn Phillips: 6-15-0-53
RECEIVING: North Branford: Austin Calamita 3-76, Shelby Franklin 3-16, Cory Seymour 3-15, Tyler Hawk 1-43; Capital Prep: Jakob Vera 2-32, Jahkai Gill 2-16, Oniel Robinson 2-5.