Xavier shuts down West Haven football
WEST HAVEN — After two failed attempts to play on Senior Night at Ken Strong Stadium due to poor weather conditions, the Westies finally got a chance to honor the seniors Sunday afternoon.
Unfortunately for the Westies, that was the last bit of celebrating they would do on the day.
Unable to get anything going offensively, the Westies fell to Xavier-Middletown 28-0.
The Falcons, playing for their postseason lives, scored once in each quarter and never let the Westies get in sync on offense in winning their eighth straight to improve to 8-1.
“It was a woeful performance,” West Haven coach Ed McCarthy said after his team fell to 4-4. “We could not make a play. It’s disappointing.”
The contest was one of field position. Unfortunately for the Westies, that field position was never in their favor.
The Falcons started half of their possessions in West Haven territory while the Westies struggled to even get in Xavier territory throughout the game.
The Falcons got on the board first on their second possession of the game. Starting at the West Haven 42-yard line, Xavier needed just three plays and some trickery to take a 7-0 lead.
After Julian Hayes took a handoff, he quickly switched gears and threw a long pass to Jordan Hyman. The Xavier receiver made a spectacular catch in the end zone as he had Tre Smith draped all over him.
The Falcon touchdown was the only score of the first half until 2 minutes, 21 seconds remained.
Falcon quarterback Alex Pace, who had an earlier touchdown pass to Conor Brownell nullified with a Xavier penalty, hit Hyman in stride for a 39-yard score. John Galer’s second extra point gave Xavier a 14-0 lead.
“Our pass defense left something to be desired,” McCarthy said.
West Haven couldn’t do anything on offense to that point. In their first five possessions, the Westies picked up only three first downs and gained only 57 yards.
The final drive of the half was a bit different.
With Nick Nieves behind center, the Westies drove to the Falcon 5 with 12 seconds to go in the half. Nieves hit Gary Williams for 30 yards and Marquies Highsmith for 20 to set up the late dramatics.
West Haven, however, could not convert.
Malik Douglas was stopped for no gain, and on the last play of the half, Nieves’ pass fell out of the hands of Williams in the end zone.
“He (Williams) had both of his hands on it,” McCarthy said. “We were shooting for it. We just did not get anything going.”
Failing to score on the final drive of the first half, West Haven looked to get going quickly in the second half.
Highsmith ran for 16 yards and Nieves hit Williams for 23 yards but the Westies stalled at the Falcon 25 when Nieves was picked off by Walter Augur.
“We had the ball to start the third quarter and we could not get in,” McCarthy said. “It was woeful. It was not like we had a lot of yards.”
The West Haven run defense contained Hayes for much of the game. He finished with 69 yards on 24 carries. His only touchdown came with 1:48 remaining in the third quarter when he scored from 10 yards out for a 21-0 lead.
Xavier put the finishing touches on its victory with a nine-play, 64-yard drive, capped by backup quarterback Pat D’Amato’s 10-yard run.
West Haven had one final chance to get on the scoreboard on its last drive. But, that fell just short as Nieves’ pass to Williams was stopped at the Falcon 1-yard line as time expired.
Nieves finished the game 11-of-26 for 149 yards.
Pace ran for 86 yards on 12 carries and also threw for 104 yards on 6-of-13 passing.