Foran football hosting Hillhouse on Friday
The Foran High football team’s hopes of qualifying for the Class M playoffs took a big hit when coach Jeff Bevino’s Lions lost a 60-14 decision to North Haven last Friday at wind-swept Vanacore Field.
Now the Lions are very much behind the eight ball.
“Every game at this point of the year is important," Bevino said after Foran fell to 4-4. "We still a shot (to qualify), but we have to win out and hope that some other teams can get wins to help us.
Bevino gave the nod to the Indians.
"That's a better team than us," he said. "They're bigger, stronger and faster. What they do on offense is hard to defend. But, when the score was 28-14 and we had the ball and had a chance to get even closer, we came up short. It happens. They put enormous defensive pressure on us all game long."
Foran has two games.
The Lions host a 5-3 Hillhouse team Friday night and close out the regular season on Thanksgiving morning at Jonathan Law 4-4.
"I'll tell you this," North Haven coach Anthony Sagnella said. "I had my worries about them coming into this game. And for most of that first half, I was on edge. But our kids really came through.
“Jeff has some tough, hard-nosed kids over there and (Jared) Hubler is a special kid. I think what helps us against teams like Foran is the fact that we're a bigger school and have more bodies. It does make a difference."
North Haven became part of the Southern Connecticut Conference's newly-aligned Tier 1 grouping this year and the Indians have lived up to their billing. They came into Friday night's game riding a 50-49 overtime win over Xavier of Middletown and didn't waste any time coming right at Foran and quarterback Hubler, a converted outside receiver who has been asked to carry the burden of the offense.
The Indians picked off a pass on Foran’s first possession, and it only took the Indians three plays to cover the distance. Running out of a tight, wing-t formation, quarterback Mark Montano ran 14 yards to the six; Noah Pastore lugged it five more on the next run, and Devan Brockamer finished it with a one-yard crack through the middle of the line.
The Lions fell behind, 7-0, just 1:40 into the game, and, from there, it only got worse.
On the next series, North Haven’s Zack Orth, a senior two-way player, scooped up a fumble and raced into the end zone. Chase DiCarlo's conversion kick made it 14-0 a little past the quarter's halfway mark.
North Haven made it 20-0 when Pastore took it in from the 10 at 4:28. Then, just two plays into the second quarter, Pastore's 39-yard run closed out an eight-play drive, which began at the Indians' 37. Orth ran the conversion in and Foran's deficit went to 28-0.
A ray of light then began to appear on a dark night for the Lions.
Senior Mark Wootton received DiCarlo's kick on his own 26 and began his trek up field, eventually cutting to his left where he found daylight and raced 74 yards for a score.
Zac Cleary split the uprights with his PAT.
It got even a little better after a short (six-yard punt) put the ball on the Foran 49. Hubler tossed a 51-yard TD pass to Vic Rios. The score and kick by Cleary drew Foran within 14 points.
The Lions fortunes improved even further when Orth fumbled after gaining seven yards and Justin DeEll recovered at the North Haven 35.
Hubler gained 11 yards on two carries which gave Foran a first down at the 24. However, on the next play, Montano intercepted a pass on the five-yard line.
It would prove to be Foran's last opportunity to get close.
Taking over at the five, North Haven went back on offense and rolled. Montano hit Steve Erbe for a 77-yard TD and the Indians never looked back in gaining its sixth win of the season against two losses (to Tier 1 opponents, Shelton and West Haven).
North Haven tacked on another TD before the half, on a 56-yard run by Orth who then scored his third touchdown of the night when he received a 24-yard pass from Montano at 6:24 of the third quarter. It gave North Haven a 47-14 lead and a big enough margin that the rest of the game was played under running time. The Indians began clearing their bench with back-up Brendan Ziaks scoring two, fourth-quarter touchdown.
Offensively, the Indians crushing, ground-control offense churned out 375 yards on 45 carries (an average of 8.4 per attempt) and garnered another 101 through the air for a total offense of 475. North Haven had back-to-back games where it scored 50 points or more. The Indians are currently seventh in the Class L playoff standings.
Hampered and out-sized all night, Foran's offense was stymied most of the time. The Lions had 98 yards, Hubler completed 2-of-9 passes, and the offense turned the ball over four times.