It was always going to come down to the last play. There was never a question.
When West Haven was stopped inches short of a first down with less than two minutes remaining, Cheshire had to march 85 yards to score the tying touchdown.
The Rams came up two yards short.
Behind the game-saving tackle between Connor Holy and Preston Denno to stop Cheshire quarterback Matthew Jeffery at the West Haven 2-yard line as time expired, West Haven hung on to defeat Cheshire 21-14 in a Southern Connecticut Conference interdivisional contest at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven Friday evening.
The game-saving play came after the Westies failed to convert on 4th-and-2 when Amir Nakome was stopped inches short of the Cheshire 15 with 1:39 left in the fourth quarter.
Jeffery, who along with running back Christian Russo returned from injury to play this game, calmly drove the Rams down the field. The senior quarterback hit on passes of 13 and seven yards, before running for six yards to the Cheshire 40 on 4th-and-4.
Jeffery then hit Tristan Washington with a 50-yard connection to the West Haven 15 with under a minute to go. Russo ran to the 1-yard line three plays later, but an incompletion, and a penalty drove Cheshire back to the 6, before Jeffery was stopped two yards short as time expired.
West Haven (7-1) took the lead for good with 7 minutes, 31 seconds remaining in the game as Nakome scored from 3 yards out to cap a 13-play, 78-yard drive. Nakome set up his go-ahead score with runs of 16 and 14 yards.
West Haven’s defense was the key to the game as it held Cheshire senior Christian Russo to 99 yards on the ground after Russo opened with a 60-yard run to start the contest. Jeffery also marked his return to the Rams and finished 10-of-16 for 156 yards.
The first half saw its share of big plays and each team had its own. With Cheshire welcoming back Jeffery and Russo, the offense had a new look.
After stopping West Haven on its initial drive of the game, the Rams were marching down the field until West Haven’s Chauncey Evans stepped in front of a Jeffery pass and raced 75 yards the other way for a touchdown and a 7-0 West Haven lead with 5:52 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Rams (4-4) wasted no time tying the contest as they used 11 plays to drive 59 yards for the equalizer. Jeffery connected with Washington for 17 yards, before Jeffery scampered in from 10 yards out with 32 seconds left in the quarter.
The Westies had another drive moving in the right direction, before Cheshire held. The Rams needed just two plays to take the lead when Jeffery found a wide-open Daniel Zawalich for a 46-yard score with 3:16 gone by in the second quarter.
Looking to slow down the Cheshire offense, the Westies went exclusively to the ground. West Haven ran 12 consecutive times and capped the 65-yard drive with a 6-yard touchdown run by Nakome with 2:07 remaining in the opening half.
West Haven gained only 25 yards in the opening quarter, but trailed the Rams just 165-103 in terms of first half yardage. Nakome finished with 98 yards rushing, while Robinson added 85 in the West Haven win.
Behind a bruising line, Nakome ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns to lead West Haven to a 27-20 victory over cross-town rival Notre Dame in a Southern Connecticut Conference interdivision contest at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven last Friday evening.
West Haven’s victory brought the Soderman Bowl title to the campus of West Haven High following a two-year absence (Notre Dame won in 2019 and no game in 2020). The victory was West Haven’s third in four games for West Haven against the Green Knights.
Leading 13-6 at the half, West Haven wasted no time extending the margin when it needed just six plays to march 70 yards.
Robinson and Nakome were at the center of it all as Robinson opened with a 16-yard run and Nakome ran for 20 more. Robinson closed the drive with a 19-yard score for a 20-6 lead with 2 minutes, 32 seconds gone by in the third quarter.
Notre Dame, playing without starting quarterback Matthew Piechota who was injured in the opening quarter and did not return, tried to mount a comeback. The Green Knights could not convert, watching as their first two possessions of the second half ended on downs.
With the Green Knights looking to hang around, West Haven came up with another big play. That play came from junior Avian Evans who turned a third-and-2 into an 82-yard touchdown run for a 27-6 lead with 5:37 to go in the game.
While the score by Evans looked to be insurance, it turned out to be the winning score as Notre Dame mounted a late comeback.
Young found Matteao Petruzziello for a 6-yard score with 1:44 remaining to get the Green Knights within 27-14, before West Haven turned the ball over on downs with less than a minute to go. Jacob Staton took a lateral 55 yards for a score to get Notre Dame within 27-20 with 26 seconds to go.
The Green Knights then looked to recover the onside kick, but the furious run in the final two minutes fell short.
The first half saw its share of miscues as the two teams combined for four fumbles, with three going in the direction of the opposing team. West Haven was the beneficiary as the Green Knights’ first fumble came while driving in for a potential score.
Notre Dame’s second fumble was again recovered by West Javen’s Jamaine Galloway, his second recovery of the game. Galloway’s recovery at the Notre Dame eight, led to a two-play drive which was capped by a 3-yard score by Nakome with 4:45 left in the opening quarter.
The Green Knights, who lost starting quarterback Piechota in the first half and running back Jacob Staton for a portion of the opening half, rebounded with a long 79-yard drive to tie the score at six with 9:09 left in the opening half.
The 17-play drive of the Green Knights was capped by a 5-yard scoring run by Young, who replaced Piechota behind center. Young completed a pair of passes for 38 yards on the drive, with a big 25-yard connection to Austin Granata and a 13-yard strike to Petruzziello.
West Haven answered quickly on offense after being off the field for seven minutes. The Westies had a long drive of their own as an 81-yard march in 13 plays ended when Nakome scored his second touchdown of the game, this one from six yards out for a 13-6 lead with 1:38 remaining in the opening half.
Freshman quarterback Nick Conlan had a key completion of 14 yards to Denno, before 12 runs produced 67 yards. Nakome finished the opening half with 70 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries.
The West Haven volleyball team fell in its home finale Monday evening with a 3-0 decision against Lyman Hall. The 27-25, 28-26, 25-13 loss was West Haven’s second in a row and dropped the Westies to 2-17 on the year.
Dulcemaria Castillo led the West Haven defense with 14 digs. Jenna Johnson had 10 digs and eight assists, Mckayla Fowler and Jordyn Johnson each had seven digs, while Tanasia Fidalgo added seven kills and two digs. Branyelis Brito chipped in five digs in the loss, while Asia Ford had three kills, three blocks, and two digs.
Despite playing increasingly better down the stretch, West Haven concluded the regular season with three straight losses. The Westies closed the regular season with a 25-19, 25-20, 25-18 loss at North Haven and fell to 2-18 on the year.
Jordyn Johnson led the West Haven defense with 10 digs, while Ford and Castillo each had eight digs, and Brito and Fowler each had four digs.
Offensively, the Westies were led by Jenna Johnson with 10 assists, four aces, and two kills. Ford and Fidalgo each had seven kills.
After losing to Foran, 4-0, two days earlier, the West Haven girls soccer team was looking to bounce back quickly. The Westies did exactly that. Behind a strong defensive effort and six saves from Kassidy Carrano, West Haven topped North Haven 2-0 at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven Monday evening.
After a scoreless first half against North Haven, the Westies got on the board early in the second half with the only goal they would need. Julia Tsakonas scored 5:42 into the second half and the defense and Carrano did the rest.
Carrano made six saves, before West Haven iced the contest when Ariana izzo scored at 75:12.
West Haven had 12 shots in the win.
The West Haven boys soccer team is peaking at the right time. With the postseason around the corner, the Westies are headed in the right direction.
Behind three goals from Mubarak Issa, West Haven defeated Amity, 4-3, on the road Thursday evening. The win was the fourth in a row and fifth in six games for West Haven.
Issa got the Westies going early when he scored an unassisted tally at the 17:37 mark. After Amity evened the contest less than a minute later, West Haven took the lead for good.
Issa scored his second of the game, off an assist from Donaldo Yanez, for a 2-1 lead with 4:23 remaining in the opening half.
Brian Rivadera gave West Haven a 3-1 lead off an assist from Alan Hernandez 19:42 into the second half, before Amity scored on a penalty kick with 16:30 remaining.
Issa countered that goal by the Spartans with his third of the game, off an assist from John Portillo, with 10:57 remaining. Amity added a late goal, but West Haven hung on for its fourth consecutive victory.
Brian Carew made seven saves in the win for West Haven. The Westies held a 12-10 shot advantage in the contest.