North Branford and Ansonia entered Saturday morning's CIAC Class S State Championship Game with unbeaten records. The Thunderbirds (12-1) exited Rentschler Field with their first loss of the season and the runner-up trophy after dropping a 59-26 decision to the top-seeded Chargers (14-0). North Branford defeated Trinity Catholic and Woodland to advance to the title game.
The No. 3 T-Birds drew first blood 1:02 into the game on a 74-yard scoring strike when the senior duo of Brandan Basil and Joe DeLucia connected for the quick 6-0 lead.
The Chargers scored the next four touchdowns, attacking via the air and on the ground, to take a 28-6 advantage into halftime.
North Branford, now 1-2 in Class S championship games, tallied 2:39 into the third period when Basil and DeLucia struck again and covered 63 yards to cut into Ansonia's lead. A Basil to Gary Falanga conversion pass closed the gap to 28-14.
Six touchdown were scored in the frenzied fourth quarter, with North Branford crossing the goal line on a 10-yarder to senior Alex McGuigan and a 12-yard completion to DeLucia to close out the T-Birds' scoring.
The game featured 1,049 yards of total offense, 467 credited to NBHS. Basil was 22-for-43 for 398 yards and a quartet of touchdowns. DeLucia finished with 9 receptions good for 204 yards and a trifecta of touchdowns. McGuigan caught three passes for 29 yards and one score.
Ansonia's 59 points are the second most scored in a Connecticut state championship football. Weaver of Hartford holds the record with 69 scored in 1999.
The Chargers, who have made 26 appearances in state title games, got a pair of TD hat tricks from Arkeel Newsome (runs of 3, 1 and 64 yards) and Andrew Matos (74 pass, 9 run, 5 run). Newsome, a 5'8” junior, rolled up 234 yards of real estate on 28 totes. Sophomore quarterback Jaiquan McKnight was 3-8 for 181 yards and two scores. He added 100 yards rushing on seven carries.