The Foran High football team was caught up in a track meet of sorts to Hillhouse High of New Haven in the first half, but Lion coach Jeff Bevino was proud of how his team stayed the course in its season-opening 55-34 loss to its Southern Connecticut Conference rival at the Vito DeVito Sports Complex on Thursday night.
“You can’t stop them, they are unbelievable those two kids,” Bevino said of the Academics’ Andre Anderson and Harold Cooper. “And they have a good team on top of it.”
Hillhouse, ranked seventh in the Register Top 10 Poll, showed why it’s rated so highly when it exploded out of the gates to take a 28-0 lead after one quarter.
“Our ones [first-teamers] were ballhawking and that’s the style of defense we’re looking to play,” Hillhouse coach Tom Dyer said of his club, which scored on its first possession and doubled the lead to 14-0 behind a 45-yard fumble return from Anderson.
The Academics recovered two fumbles and intercepted two passes overall, the second one returned 96 yards for a score by Daryn Horner for a 34-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
Bevino said: “We’re young, so we know we’re going to make mistakes. We’ll be good someday…The kids never quit.”
Sophomore quarterback Jake Kasuba led the Lions back, as he completed 19-of-37 passes for 242 yards and three scores to go with those two interceptions.
“I absolutely love that kid,” Bevino said of Kasuba. “We must have had 10 drops… He had a hell of a night.”
Kasuba connected with Nick Weissauer for a 27-yard touchdown in the closing seconds of the first half.
Weissauer played through severe leg cramps to catch seven passes for 121 yards, before the senior left the game for good with 5:06 left in the third quarter after he collapsed to the turf on a fake punt run.
Andrew Khon (158 yards) ran outside a great trap block and raced 39 yards for a touchdown at the 6:48 mark of the third quarter.
Foran’s offensive line, including Zach Hubler, Ed Drapp, Anthony DeTullio, John Carchia and James Monk, played the Academics tough up front.
Samuel Olsson recovered a Hillhouse fumble on its next possession, but the Academics held on downs, and Cooper wowed the large crowd with a 34-yard run through traffic only two plays later to make it 41-12.
It was 48-12 after a long Academic scoring drive took the game into the final period.
Foran answered with a 67-yard march capped by Khon’s tackle-breaking 38-yard run for a score with 6:04 remaining.
Christopher Hoey, who played a good game on offense and defense, made the telling comeback block on the 17-yard line to clear a path for Khon.
After a three-and-out led by the Lions’ Andrew Melendez, Colin Lydiksen, Jesse Aldridge, Hubler and Aniber Moras, Foran mounted another charge.
Khon ran 16 yards for a first down at the Acs’ 43, before Zach White made a great adjustment, catching a pass down the middle at the nine and going the distance.
Hoey caught the two-point conversion pass from Kasuba and the score was 48-24 with 2:28 on the clock.
Anderson, who ran the ball seven times for 197 yards, went 64 yards on the next play from scrimmage.
Kasuba hit Connor Cadrin, who made a spectacular interception in the first half, with a pass on the 40 and the junior raced up the right sideline to complete the 59-yard touchdown.
Cadrin ran for the two-pointer to complete the scoring with 2:03 remaining.
For Hillhouse, Cooper used three touches to rush for 161 yards and found paydirt from 14, 83 and 64 yards out.