New Canaan beats Darien in the annual Turkey Bowl on a goal line stand in the fourth quarter

DARIEN — New Canaan’s defense has carried the Rams all season, so it was fitting that the 2022 Turkey Bowl would come down to the defense with their backs in the end zone and Darien at the 2-yard line.

With under 2:00 to play, the Rams stopped the Blue Wave four times inside the 10-yard line, including on 3rd and and 4th and goal from the 2-yard line, giving the No. 6 Rams a 13-10 win in the annual Thanksgiving battle between the border rivals.

“It’s been the defense all year long,” New Canaan Coach Lou Marinelli said. “Our defensive coaches do a tremendous job defensively. That’s been our story all year. We are really a defensive team and they kept fighting and kept fighting and that’s a great stand on the goal line.”

It is the fifth-straight Turkey Bowl win for New Canaan, which now leads the Thanksgiving series 20-8 and the all-time series 55-39-2 in the 96th meeting between the schools.

Prior to going for it from the 2-yard line down 3 points with 1:45 to play, Darien took a timeout to discuss attempting a game-tying field goal, but decided to roll the dice and go for the win in regulation.

“You second-guess your decisions as a Coach sitting at the 2-yard line. Do you kick it and go for the tie and overtime or do you try to stuff it in?” Darien Coach Mike Forget said. “We went for the latter and tried to get it in and they stopped us. The Seniors did a great job all game and I am sad for them that we are not going to be in the Playoffs because we should be and we deserve to be in the playoffs.”

Darien (6-4) entered the game needing a win to get in the CIAC Class L Playoffs but did not get it and will miss the playoffs.

New Canaan (9-1) Secured the No. 4 seed and a home quarterfinal game in Class L with the win.

The game was a defensive battle back-and-forth from the opening kickoff.

Darien led 3-0 after one quarter on a 34-yard field goal by Jack Stuart.

The Blue Wave would go up 10-0 on a 5-yard run by Simeon Doll early in the second quarter.

New Canaan would get inside the red zone but had to settle for a 20-yard field goal by Ty Groff as the half ended.

New Canaan intercepted a pass on Darien’s opening drive of the third quarter and a few plays later, scored on a 17-yard run by Hunter Telesco, tying the game 10-10.

Groff would put New Canaan ahead to stay late in the third quarter, nailing a 47-yard field goal with room to spare.

Darien got the ball with 4:22 to play on their own 42-yard line and drove it all the way down to the 2 before being stuffed on the goal line on 3rd and 4th down.

PLAYER OF THE GAME

Matthew Salmini, New Canaan: The linebacker was named the MVP of the game for his strong game on the defensive side of the ball where he and LB Owen Lydon, among others, made big play after big play.

QUOTABLE

“We were relentless, we didn’t want to let them score and even though they were close at times, we kept holding them,” Salmini said. “The plan was to do the same thing we have been doing all year. We have been Balling out on defense and we are like a Brotherhood on D.”

NEW CANAAN 13 DARIEN 10

NEW CANAAN 0 3 10 0—13

DARIEN 3 7 0 0—10

D—Jack Stuart 34 field goal

D—Simeon Doll 5 run (Stuart kick)

NC—Ty Groff 20 field goal

NC—Hunter Telesco 17 run (Groff kick)

NC—Groff 47 field goal

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