West Haven dominates Cross with ground attack
NEW HAVEN — The start of the 2009 football season was not a pleasant one for West Haven. Three straight losses opened the season and West Haven was staring at a fourth-straight loss against Hand-Madison.
The Westies awakened to pull out the victory and have not looked back since.
After completely dominating Wilbur Cross 27-3 last Thursday afternoon at the Wilbur Cross Athletic Complex, the Westies picked up their fourth straight victory.
“I am really happy,” West Haven coach Ed McCarthy said. “As you know, we started the season 0-3 and were down 10-0 five minutes in against Hand. Things were not looking good. But, we have worked hard and we have taken care of business.”
West Haven (4-3) used a potent ground attack to tire the Governors early.
The Westies ran for 355 yards and accumulated 431 yards of total offense. Both Marquies Highsmith and Devante Credle ran for more than 100 yards as the offensive line threw punishing blocks and opened big holes.
“Our offensive line was great and our ground game was great,” McCarthy said. “We threw a couple of passes to keep them honest. The screen pass in the third quarter was the big one.”
While West Haven cruised in the second half, it was the opening possession of the game that turned the game in the Westies’ favor.
The Governors (3-4) were driving deep into West Haven territory and appeared to be going in for the score when quarterback Dontay Long connected with James Ward Jr. for a 30-yard gain.
With Ward heading into the end zone, West Haven’s Malik Douglas knocked the ball loose and Tre Smith recovered in the end zone.
While West Haven was stopped on the Governor 15 on its ensuing possession, the tone had been set for the game.
“That fumble may have been the biggest play,” McCarthy said. “The defense has really come along. We made a couple of personnel changes. We have been playing better.”
The Westies scored the only points they needed on their second possession. Needing just seven plays to go 64 yards, West Haven used Credle’s 2-yard run to find the end zone. Brendan Morr’s extra point just 1 minute, 13 seconds into the second quarter gave the Westies a 7-0 lead.
West Haven’s defense and special teams also played well. Pat Hunter blocked a Cross punt and Chris Boyd sacked Long on Cross’ next possession, setting up West Haven’s next scoring drive.
Needing just two plays to drive 78 yards, West Haven took a 13-0 lead with 4:16 to go in the half.
Highsmith started the drive with a 69-yard sprint and Kevin Philips ended it with a 9-yard score. Morr’s extra point was blocked by Juan Lugo.
The Westies went to the half with a 13-3 lead following Doural Scott’s 29-yard field goal. West Haven gained 255 yards in the opening half.
“We have confidence,” McCarthy said. “We have a great staff. Our assistant coaches would not let the kids roll over and die after the third loss. They kept working hard along with the kids. I think we are a pretty good team right now. We’ll see in the next couple of weeks.”
West Haven wasted no time extending the lead in the second half.
A seven-play, 71-yard drive was capped when quarterback Tremayne Barnes connected with Damien McIntosh for a 45-ayrd score off a screen pass. Barnes then ran in the conversion with 3:57 gone by in the third quarter, extending West Haven’s lead to 21-3.
Cross ran only 18 plays in the second half, eight coming on its third possession that ended with an interception by Douglas. The Governors accumulated just 64 yards in the second half.
Barnes scored West Haven’s final touchdown with 3:11 remaining in the third quarter. He bootlegged around the right edge, running 25 yards untouched for the score.
Credle led West Haven with 134 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Highsmith ran for 102 yards on seven carries while Barnes was 3-of-6 passing for 76 yards and a touchdown.
Ward ran for 164 yards on 13 carries for Wilbur Cross. Long finished 9-of-14 passing for 164 yards with an interception.