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Groff’s field goal with 2:34 remaining lifts New Canaan to state title

New Canaan receiver Mack Seelert (6) speaks with Maloney’s Donte Kelly (2) after the Rams beat Maloney, 16-13 on Saturday for the Class L championship at Arute Field in New Britain.

NEW BRITAIN, Dec. 10, 2022 – New Canaan senior Ty Groff kicked three field goals, including a 19-yard field goal with 2:34 left in regulation, to lead the Rams to a 16-13 victory over No. 3 seed Maloney in Saturday’s Class L championship game at Arute Field on the Central Connecticut State University campus.

No. 4 New Canaan (12-1) won their 13th state championship and their first since 2016. Maloney (11-2) was looking to win their second consecutive state title.

It was no easy win for the Rams nor was its trek through the state tournament. New Canaan scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to beat Naugatuck in the quarterfinals, 17-10, and used three field goals from Groff to beat Cheshire, 23-13 in the semifinals.

“I will miss this group,” long-time New Canaan coach Lou Marinelli said. “They’ve been so good to overcome what they have overcome. We had our best players get hurt early and these kids kept hanging in, hanging in there. We coached them hard. To see them do this is just unbelievable.

Marinelli paused. “Grit. Just grit,” he said.

Neither team gave up much. The Rams led 6-0 in the second quarter after a pair of field goals from Groff of 41 and 24 yards.

Maloney had gained just one first down when Marquis Ward took the kickoff with 2:32 left in the first half. Ward escaped a few tackles and scooted across the field for a 95-yard kickoff return to give the Spartans a 7-6. It was his second kickoff return for a touchdown this season.

Maloney took the lead when quarterback Kyle Valentine found Donte Kelly in the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown pass with 1:09 remaining in the third quarter. The conversion pass failed and the Spartans led, 13-6.

New Canaan responded immediately with a seven-play, 62-yard drive that culiminated with Hunter Telesco scoring from the one-yard line with 9:44 remaining in the game. Groff’s extra point tied the game at 13-13. A 30-yard pass from Groff to Alexander Russey on third down kept the drive alive. Two plays later, Telesco scored.

The New Canaan football team celebrates after beating Maloney, 16-13 on Saturday in New Britain.

Telesco finished with a game-high 101 yards on 31 carries.

On its next possession, the Rams rode Telesco hard. He carried the ball on seven consecutive possessions to the Maloney 11-yard line. An eight-yard run from Charlie Chisholm pushed the ball to the Maloney three-yard line.

Maloney stiffened but the Rams had Groff, who hit his third field goal of the day from the 19, the game-winning kick with 2:34 remaining for a 16-13 lead.

“I have to give it to (Maloney) they were great,” Telesco said. ”They were really strong. We knew a lot of them were playing both ways and we just kept pounding and pounding. Our (offensive) line played amazing. They never gave up and that is why we are here.”

With his three field goals, Groff set a new state record for most field goals in a single season (15) and in a career (27), according to the state high school football record book. Groff kicked seven field goals in New Canaan’s three tournament wins.

How does it feel to win a state championship?

“It’s amazing,” Telesco said. “I have dreamt of this moment since I was a little kid and I know most of these kids have too. I am so proud of everybody.”

New Canaan 16, Maloney 13
At New Britain
New Canaan (12-1)         0  6  0  10  — 16
Maloney (11-2)                0  7  6    0  – -13
Second quarter
NC: Ty Groff 41 FG, 11:06
NC: Groff 24 FG, 2:44
M: Marquis Ward 95 kickoff return (Joshua Scaramuzzo kick), 2:32
Third quarter
M: Donte Kelly 24 pass from Kyle Valentine (pass fails), 1:09
Fourth quarter
NC: Hunter Telesco 1 run (Groff kick), 9:44
NC: Groff 19 FG, 2:34
Individual statistics
RUSHING: New Canaan – Hunter Telesco 31-101, Luke Reed 3-8, Thomas Garcia 2-8, Mack Seelert 1-minus 6, Ty Groff 4-8, Cooper Smith 2-19, Matthew Salmini; Maloney – Joshua Boganski 15-34, Donald Highsmith 1-2, Donte Kelly 1-2
PASSSING: New Canaan – Ty Groff 3-6-1, 53; Luke Reed 0-1; Maloney – Kyle Valentine 15-24-2, 119
RECEIVING: New Canaan – James McInerney 1-15, Mack Seelert 1-8, Alexander Russey 1-30; Maloney – Jaden Vasquez 3-40, Donte Kelly 6-40, Joziah Gonzalez 4-25, Jesus Martell 1-8, Amir Phillips Feliciano 1-6

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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