Masuk’s football stuns Newtown, secures Class L berth with final seconds placement by Michael Epifano

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NEWTOWN – After 11 weeks, nine full games and 47 minutes of football, the SWC title and Masuk football’s chance to play in the L-class state tournament came down to one game and one leg.

With six seconds to go and the Panthers tied with Newtown, senior kicker Michael Epifano settled in 37 yards while muffling the noise. The ball was snapped and Epifano connected right in the middle for a 24-21 lead, sending the Panthers into hysteria and unofficially the L-Class playoffs. The CIAC releases the official pairings on Friday.

“It was great, I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” said Epifano. “It’s a big night, and it’s great to be champions. That’s all I could ask for.

An interception by Jake Dellapiano in midfield with 31 seconds left set up the field goal attempt that would crown Masuk as the SWC champion.

“We actually have games during practice where we find out how far he can go,” said Masuk coach Steve Christy. “He was one meter from his limit. This kid, he had cramps and was in pain. He also played excellent defense.

As Quinebaug Valley beat Thames River on Wednesday night, Masuk secured an unofficial offer to compete in the L-Class State tournament as a loss would have ended the season.

“This is for the Masuk Nation, for all the people of Masuk,” Christy said. “It’s been ten years of struggling man, and it’s a good team that we just beat. We never give up, we believe, and belief is a strong sense. I am so proud of these children. They deserve this.

Masuk has a lot of experience in games until the end. Epifano’s kick won the game against Barlow two weeks ago and a two-point conversion saw Masuk overtake New Fairfield the week before.

“To come out of tight back-to-back games against New Fairfield and Barlow, I think that prepared us for that,” said Nick Saccu. “We had been here before and there was no doubt in our mind that we were going to go down and score.”

Saccu had two touchdowns, the first on Masuk’s first try and the second with six minutes remaining to tie the game at 21-21.

After Saccu’s first touchdown, Newtown quarterback Dylan Magazu grabbed it late in the first quarter to tie the score 7-7. Newtown took a 14-7 lead with 15 seconds left in the halftime as Magazu connected with Andrew Swierbut for a 25-yard touchdown pass. With 50 seconds left in the third quarter, Masuk tied the game at 14-14 as Dylan Jackson found Justin Briganti for a 17-yard touchdown pass.

“Justin Briganti, I think he’s a sleeper,” Saccu said. “He’s had big touchdowns the last few games, and I love this guy to death.”

Magazu scored his second touchdown of the game with 7:08 left before Saccu responded a minute later.


“We don’t know who we’ll have next, but whoever it is, I’m sure it’s going to be a tough game,” Saccu said. “After this Thanksgiving break is over, it’s time to get back to work. “

Newtown (6-4) needed a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. The season is drawing to a close for the reigning 2019 SWC and Class LL champion.

“It’s always tough, you want to end with a win and that isn’t always possible,” Newtown coach Bobby Pattison said. “I am proud of our group of seniors; they fought all year. It was a tough program and we had some challenges. We were right in the game, we just missed a few too many times this year.

PLAYER OF THE GAME

For the second game in a row, Mike Epifano sends Masuk home as the winner with a field goal, this time to win the SWC title and win a bid for the L-class state tournament. Feeling no pressure, Epifano has ice in the veins.

[email protected]; @AldamWill

MASUK 24, NEWTOWN 21

MASUK7 0 7 10-24

VILLENEUVE7 7 0 7 -21

M — Nick Saccu 2 run (good kick)

N— Dylan Magazu 2 run (Good kick)

N — Andrew Swierbut 25 assist from Magazu (good kick)

M— Justin Briganti 17 assist from Dylan Jackson (Good kick)

N— Dylan Magazu 2 run (Good kick)

M — Nick Saccu 3 run (good kick)

M — Michael Epifano 37 Field Goal

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