Three feet. That is all which separated West Haven from an opening day victory over North Haven. Don’t think the Westies forgot to use that as motivation all week.
Taking their frustrations out on Hamden, the Westies picked up their first win of the season with a 33-7 victory over the Green Dragons in a Southern Connecticut Conference contest at Ken Strong Stadium in West Haven Friday evening.
“Our defense totally bailed us out today,” West Haven coach Rich Boshea said after his team allowed just 113 total yards. “They played great. Hamden played hard. We made just enough plays to win this game.”
The story of this contest easily came on special teams where each team struggled on its punts. Hamden had the most glorious of the chances to capitalize, taking over three times inside the West Haven 30, but coming away without any points.
“I have to do a better job preparing the kids,” Hamden coach Tom Dyer said. “This is two weeks in a row where we have had turnovers in the red zone. As a coach, we are doing things that fall on me. I have to do a better job preparing these kids to be great.”
Leading 13-7 at the half, West Haven put the game away with a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter. Capitalizing on a short punt, the Westies raced 23 yards in six plays, capped by a 2-yard keeper by Jordan Berrios for a 19-7 lead with 6 minutes, 55 seconds to go in the third quarter.
After Hamden fumbled going in for a score, West Haven needed just six plays to go 80 yards for a 26-7 advantage. Justin Medina, who finished with 112 yards rushing, had the key run of 34 yards, before Jaden Grant scored from nine yards out with 10 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
“We talked about that game,” Medina said of the opening loss. “We knew we had to do a better job. We were able to do so tonight.”
Grant finished with 92 yards on the ground and officially sealed West Haven’s initial win of the season three plays into the third quarter when he ran around the right edge and raced 37 yards for the score and a 33-7 lead.
“We need to work on our special teams and do a better job on offense,” Boshea said despite his team gaining 390 yards. “The defense making the stops after those punts was the story of the game. Coach (Tom) Unger had a great plan in place.”
The Green Dragons had two outstanding scoring opportunities in the opening half, twice taking possession inside the West Haven 15, but could not score. Only the second botched punt of the game by the Westies helped Hamden, which had just 59 yards of offense in the first half, get on the board.
That scoring opportunity was capitalized on quickly as Hamden quarterback Christopher Wallace hit Christopher Pigatt in stride for a 29-yard touchdown strike, getting Hamden within 26-7 with 2:58 remaining in the first half.
Aside from the defensive play by the Green Dragons in which they kept West Haven from building a bigger lead, Hamden could not get going.
West Haven capitalized on a pair of big runs as a 50-yard run by Medina set up a 1-yard plunge by Juan Gutierrez with 4:35 remaining in the first quarter fo a 7-0 lead.
The Westies then used a 51-yard burst by Tylen Jennette to set up Medina’s 4-yard scoring run with 7:49 left in the half for a 13-0 West Haven lead. The Westies finished the opening half with 192 total yards of offense.