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After Fast Start, Trinity Crushed by New Canaan

Trinity Catholic High running back Shaquan Howsie did Saturday evening what few players have been able to do in recent years – tear up the New Canaan defense. The Crusaders’ junior racked up 226 rushing yards on 19 carries, including a 65-yard touchdown.

The bad news came crashing down on Trinity, however, as Howsie went down with what head coach Pete Stokes called a serious knee injury. Combine that with a dominant second half by the Rams and it added up to a disappointing 41-14 loss for Trinity on the road.

“Man, those guys [New Canaan] are a good football club. They keep coming at you like an army of fire ants,” Stokes said. “The most important thing is that Howsie has many more nights like this. I just pray the good Lord sends him a blessing tonight.”

If there is any bright side to Trinity’s loss, it is that it may have revealed to the rest of the league how to game plan against the Rams. The Crusaders marched 76 yards on their opening drive to take an early 7-0 lead. Quarterback Dan O’Leary completed his only pass of the day on a ball that was tipped by Kevin Epp but reeled in by Donavan Stephenson for the touchdown.

Trinity had many second chances, as New Canaan was penalized 14 times for more than 100 yards. A roughing-the-kicker call and a pass interference penalty put Trinity within striking distance on consecutive drives.

The offense sputtered beyond Howsie’s running attack, however. O’Leary struggled to put a tight spiral on his throws, getting picked off four times. Two of those interceptions were in the New Canaan red zone.

The Trinity secondary did all it could to confuse New Canaan’s all-state quarterback, Matthew Milano. The usually laser-precise Milano struggled in the first half and threw incomplete passes on 13 of his 39 attempts. After the shorthanded defense began to tire in the second half, Milano burned Trinity for five touchdown passes.

The backbreaking play came late in the second when Trinity was trailing by only one touchdown. The Crusaders thought they had made a huge stop after New Canaan botched a field goal attempt. Rams kicker Collin Shapiro recovered and found a wide-open Kevin McDonough to put the game out of reach. For video from the game, click here .

“We wanted to keep the ball from them. We wanted to wind the clock and move the chains,” Stokes said. “Those were some pretty nice drives early in the game. Dan just made some bad throws. He’s a junior playing varsity football against the No. 3 team in the state.”

Trinity (1-1) will hope for good news on Howsie before traveling to Harding on Saturday for a 2 p.m. game.

Follow Eric Gendron on Twitter for the latest MSC-Fairfield County sports coverage. Like The Daily Stamford on Facebook .

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