Glastonbury head coach Eric Hennessy preaches to his team about getting better every day. Hennessy had to like what he saw from his team Tuesday evening.
Piling up 402 yards of offense and using a stifling defense, No. 6 Glastonbury upset No. 3 West Haven 17-7 in the Class LL quarterfinals at Ken Strong Stadium. The Guardians held West Haven to 227 yards of offense.
Glastonbury, making its first postseason appearance since 2015, will travel to play second-seeded Greenwich, a 47-7 winner over Hamden, in the semifinals Sunday at 12:30 p.m.
The Guardians rushed for 293 yards on the night with Petrone racking up 138 of those yards. Glastonbury held the ball for all but 1:16 of the fourth quarter in securing the victory.
Leading by a touchdown, the Guardians iced the game when Alexander Hernandez, a former soccer player, easily booted a 36-yard field goal with 5:02 remaining for a 17-7 lead.
The Westies, making their first postseason appearance in five years, had one final opportunity to get closer but quarterback Nick Conlan’s pass on fourth down was knocked away, allowing the Guardians to run out the final 3:40 of the game.
“We just couldn’t get going,” West Haven coach Rich Boshea said after his team finished the year at 9-2. “Teams were defending us a little different. We were never really able to establish the run. It is hard to just throw your way all the way down the field like that. We didn’t do enough. Glastonbury’s defense played really well.”
West Haven, ranked fifth in the GameTimeCT Top 10 poll, only had three possessions in the second half, but had a chance to take the lead on its first possession of the third quarter.
The Westies got to the Glastonbury 33, but the drive stalled, marking the fourth time the Westies were inside the Glastonbury 35 but failed to produce any points.
“I love them,” Boshea said of his team. “These guys have given us everything we have asked for all year. Everyone of these guys is a great kid and a warrior. I expect a lot of good things to happen to them the rest of their lives. You have to take your hats off to Glastonbury.”
The Guardians followed with an 8-play, 85-yard drive, capped with a 20-yard touchdown connection from Jack Anglim to Drew Curto with 2:03 remaining in the third quarter.
The opening half was one of missed opportunities for each team as turnovers and big stops were the name of the game in the opening 24 minutes. In between was a touchdown by each team to send the game to the half even at seven.
The Westies took an early 7-0 lead after an interception by Avian Evans on Glastonbury’s first possession of the game. West Haven needed three runs by Deven Robinson to go 42 yards, the last a 7-yard touchdown run with 5:32 left in the first quarter.
The Guardians wasted no time responding, marching 76 yards in nine plays, capped by an Anglim to Derek Thomas 11-yard touchdown pass to even the game at 7 with 20 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
The rest of the half saw the Westies denied on fourth down at the Glastonbury 23, and fumble at the Glastonbury 21 on their next possession.
The Guardians defense showed it was going to be tough to deal with right from the start as West Haven’s Demarco Eady returned the opening kickoff to the Glastonbury 23. The Guardians allowed only three yards, keeping the Westies off the scoreboard.
Fairfield Prep coach Keith Hellstern has seen his team improve week to week. The Jesuits just may be where they need to be as the postseason approaches.
Known primarily as a running team this season, the Jesuits turned to its passing game, along with a stingy defense, to defeat top-ranked and previously undefeated West Haven 21-6 at Rafferty Stadium in Fairfield last Wednesday evening.
The Jesuits (Tier I) took home the battle of the Southern Connecticut Conference Tier Champions with the win over West Haven (Tier 2). West Haven leads the series 17-10.
The Jesuits played as perfect a game as possible, particularly in the first half by holding West Haven on downs twice inside the Prep 10. Conversely, Prep’s offense capitalized on its opportunities, taking a 14-0 lead first half lead and never looking back.
Leading 7-0 on a Malachi Mercer-Robinson 4-yard touchdown run 1 minute, 26 seconds into the second quarter, it appeared the Jesuits would take the 7-0 lead to the half.
The Jesuits flipped the script. Tyler Smith hit Timothy Hartnett for 40 yards to the West Haven 30, then two plays later, the duo connected again for a 25-yard score and a 14-0 lead with 41 seconds remaining in the half.
The Jesuits continued their stellar effort in the second half, limiting West Haven, which came in averaging 45 points per game, to just 103 yards and a total of 217 in the game.
Fairfield Prep held West Haven to just 83 yards rushing in the game, and held Conlan to just 134 yards on 19-of-29 passing.
Prep iced the game with 1:54 remaining as Mercer-Robinson scored his second touchdown of the game, this one from 24 yards out.
West Haven finally got on the scoreboard after a long kickoff return by Armani Reid set up the Westies at the Prep 30. Three plays later, Conlan hit Reid with a 13-yard scoring strike with 1:02 to go.
“They made all the plays and we didn’t,” Boshea said after his team fell to 9-1. “Hats off and credit to them. Prep played great. They made the plays and we didn’t. Prep just played great defense.”
The first half was all about possession and converting opportunities. Fairfield Prep was successful in both.
Holding West Haven twice on fourth down inside the Prep 10-yard line, the Jesuits flipped the script when they had the ball, scoring on drives of 90 and 97 yards.
After the offense watched for most of the opening quarter, Prep’s defense got the offense on the field by forcing an incomplete pass from Conlan on fourth down.
A bruising ground game, sprinkled with a pair of passes, produced the first points of the game when Mercer-Robinson scored from four yards out just 1:26 into the second quarter.
The Westies responded when Conlan ran 13 yards on 4th-and-6 to the Prep 19. Conlan hit Reid to the West Haven six, but the Jesuits forced two straight incompletions to force a turnover on downs.
With West Haven gaining only 114 yards of offense in the opening half, and Prep starting deep in its own territory, it looked as if the game would go to the half a one-score game.
The Jesuits flipped the narrative when Smith connected with Hartnett on a 40-yard pass play to the West Haven 30, before the duo hooked up again for a 25-yard touchdown reception with 41 seconds remaining in the half for a 14-0 Prep lead.
The Jesuits gained 218 yards in the opening half and 363 in the game. Mercer-Robinson ran for 82 yards and two scores, while Wally Wuchiski ran for 76 yards.
For all your West Haven sporting news throughout the year, including game articles by Mike Madera, highlights, photos and more, visit www.westieblue.com.