The stellar 2012 campaign for the North Branford football team came to a close with a 59-26 defeat to Ansonia in the Class S State Playoff championship game at East Hartford’s Rentschler Field on Dec. 8. T-Birds finish with a record of 12-1 and Ansonia went 14-0 in claiming its 18th state title.
North Branford quarterback Brandan Basil completed 22 passes for 398 yards and four touchdowns, three to fellow senior Joe DeLucia, who had nine catches for 204 yards. Unfortunately, the T-Birds couldn’t contain Ansonia’s offense as Arkeel Newsome rushed for 234 yards and three TDs and quarterback Jaiquan McKnight threw two touchdown passes and ran for another.
North Branford scored the game’s first touchdown when Basil found DeLucia on a 74-yard touchdown pass for a 6-0 lead just 1:01 into the contest. Ansonia tied it on Newsome’s 3-yard TD run with 5:09 left in the first quarter and then took the lead for good when McKnight connected with Raeshaun Finley on a 75-yard scoring strike, followed by Newsome taking in the 2-point conversion, to make it 14-6 with 14 seconds left in the opening frame.
In the second quarter, Ansonia fumbled a punt return and junior Josh Melaccio recovered for the T-Birds at the Chargers’ 29, but on a 4th-and-5, Basil’s pass to the end zone was incomplete and Ansonia took over on downs. The Chargers then used a 74-yard TD pass from McKnight to Andrew Matos and a 2-point conversion run by McKnight for 22-6 lead, after which Matos’s 9-yard touchdown rush gave Ansonia a 28-6 halftime advantage.
North Branford forced Ansonia to punt on its opening series of the second half and Basil connected with DeLucia for a 63-yard touchdown pass. Basil then threw the 2-point conversion to senior Gary Falanga to cut it to 28-14 early in the third quarter. The T-Birds forced another punt and drove to the Ansonia 14, yet were again turned aside on downs when Basil’s 4th-and-10 pass landed incomplete. The Chargers then embarked on a lengthy drive that culminated with Newsome’s 1-yard TD run and 2-point conversion rush for a 36-14 lead 11 seconds into the fourth quarter.
In the final frame, Newsome went up the middle for a 64-yard touchdown rush and McKnight’s 2-point conversion pass was good, making it 44-14 with 10:25 left in the game. The T-Birds retaliated on their next drive that culminated with Basil’s 10-yard TD pass to senior Alex McGuigan. The 2-point pass was no good and Ansonia lead 44-20 with 9:49 to play. However, the Chargers came right back on McKnight’s 56-yard touchdown run and Matos’s 2-point conversion rush to make it 52-20 just 15 seconds later. North Branford answered when Basil threw his fourth touchdown of the day and third to DeLucia from 12 yards away, making it 52-26 with 6:53 left. But Matos later ran in one from five yards away, which coupled with the extra-point kick, sealed it a 59-26.