THE HOME OF WEST HAVEN SPORTS
State Champions - 1968 (Ranked No. 1 in Ct, No. 4 in the country, 9-0), 1972 (No. 1 in Ct., 10-0), 1986, 1987, 1989, 2002 (No. 1 in Ct., 12-0)
Retired numbers - Bert Siclari (Class of 1969) #71; Jerry Gambardella (Class of 2000) #21
All-State Players - Joe Gianotti '32; Bill Irons '39; Harry “Red” Bailey '39; Frank Cole '40; Jack McWeeney '42; Ken Provost '44; Gerry Apuzzo '46, '47; Jim McNulty '47; Fred Robinson '48; John Anquillare '59; John Poe '61, '62; Vin Sgro '67; Ted Williams '68; Mel Labelle '71; Don Herzog '72; Gene Staehly '72; Dave Rettig '73; Brian Nugent '74; John Verderame '75, '76; Mike Keyes '77; Bob McMillan '79; Ron Conyers '83; Rob Thompson '84; Dan Montesi '86; Chuck Bradley '87; Eric Thimas '89; Darian Colman '90; Rob Farnen '93; Craig Dicks '96; Gene Segaline '97; Ulish Booker '97; Jashawn Brown Robinson '01; Rob Jackson '02; Tommy DeMorro '02; Desmond Lymon '03; Jim Fitzpatrick '05; James Alford '06; Erik Matos '06
Philips leads Westies past Amity
Junior scores 4 times in 47-24 victory
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (October 12, 2012) - Ervin Philips is widely regarded as one of the best running backs in the state. The Amity football team got an up close look Friday night.
The junior took his game to another level, scoring four times as West Haven remained undefeated with a 47-24 victory over the Spartans at Ken Strong Stadium. West Haven improved to 5-0, while the resilient Spartans fell to 2-3.
Philips’ night was made even more impressive as he scored twice on the gound, once in the air and another on a kickoff return. Philips finished with 145 yards on the ground on just 9 carries.
“We are playing for now,” Philips said. “We are playing for the team. It is big for us to get to 5-0. We are in a good position right now.”
The Westies wasted no time getting on the scoreboard as they recovered a fumble by Amity’s James Semmonella on the first offensive play from scrimmazge. Three plays later, Eddy Williams raced in from 18 yards out with just 1 minute, 8 seconds gone by in the game.
West Haven was a bit better on its next drive. After a punt by Amity pinned West Haven at the West Haven 7-yard line, Philips took care of the rest.
“My line gave me a big hole and I just took it,” Philips said.
Breaking through the initial point of contact., Philips raced 93 yards for the score. West Haven missed the extra point but still led 13-0 with 6 minutes, 25 seconds to go in the opening quarter.
Westies run past Sheehan
WH improves to 4-0 with win
By MIKE MADERA
(October 5, 2012) – Despite opening the season with three straight wins,West Haven coach Ed McCarthy had to be concerned as his team traveled toWallingford Friday evening to play a struggling Sheehan team. Fresh off a victory over cross-town rival Notre Dame and seeing the start time of Friday evening’s game pushed back an hour, the game had all the markings of a let down for the Westies.
Such was not the case. Scoring the first 35 points of the game, the Westies cruised to a 48-12 victory over Sheehan at Riccitelli Field in Wallingford. With the win, West Haven improved to 4-0.
West Haven’s ground game was in full force against the Titans. Five different players scored seven touchdowns on the ground.
Ervin Philips and Eddy Williams, who have been a potent 1-2 punch thus far this season, each scored twice, Duane Gary added his second long touchdown run in as many weeks and Javon Taylor scored from 56 yards out.
When all was said and done, Williams ran for 154 yards and Gary ran for 53. Taylor completed 4-of-5 passes for 73 yards, hitting Gary twice for 67 yards. Philips also connected once for 48 yards.
While the ground game was in gear from the start, the Westies worked through the air as well. Philips set up West Haven’s first score when his option pass to Jason Wilkerson went 49 yards, paving the way for Philips’ 1-yard run and a 7-0 West Haven lead.
The Westies put the game away early, scoring twice more in a span of 3 minutes. Williams ran up the middle for a 47-yard score just 2 minutes after Philips put the Westies on the board and 1 minute later, Gary exploded for a 50-yard run around the left edge for a 21-0 lead just 10 minutes into the game.
Taylor then got into the act for the Westies. A 56-yard keeper around the left end pushed West Haven’s lead to 28-0 as the second quarter began.
Taylor followed by striking through the air, hitting Gary for 56 yards. Williams capped the drive with a 3-yard run and West Haven led 35-0.
West Haven did a nice job against a Sheehan team which was putting up big numbers on offense through the first couple of weeks of the season.
The Titans capitalized on a West Haven turnover to score their first points of the opening half. Using a 23-yard pass play from Justin Lange to Bruce Rutkowski, Sheehan capped the drive with a Lange to Rutkowski 14-yard scoring strike.
The Westies ended any hopes of a Sheehan comeback in the third quarter. Williams ran 47 yards on West Haven’s first scoring possession of the second half to set up Philips’ 5-yard score.
Williams then set up Nyrell Moore’s 8-yard score with a 33-yard run.
Running the Town
Behind Philips, Williams and Gary, Westies beat ND, 34-13
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (September 28, 2012) - The West Haven football team has had plenty of time to think about its last visit to Veterans Stadium. The contest, which resulted in a West Haven loss, was one of the reasons the Westies failed to qualify for the postseason last season.
Fast forward one year to Friday night and the Westies have new memories. Behind a powerful running game which accumulated 330 yards on the ground, the Westies defeated Notre Dame 34-13 in a Southern Connecticut Conference Division I East game.
“This is a real big win for us,” West Haven’s Ervin Philips said. “We worked hard in practice all week. We wanted to get a win here. We knew we needed a good showing on offense. We are just taking it a week at a time.”
Philips finished with 137 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the game. His 66-yard run on West Haven’s first play from scrimmage set the tone of the game and gave the Westies a 7-0 lead 6 minutes, 10 seconds into the game.
“It was a huge play,” West Haven coach Ed McCarthy said after his team improved to 3-0. “He (Philips) cracked one early and that got us going. We allowed them to come right back but we were able to run the ball tonight. We are happy with this win.”
On a night Notre Dame honored the 50th anniversary of the 1962 state champion football team, West Haven’s running game proved to be very important as Notre Dame’s Cameron Tucker had a big night of his own. Tucker, a junior, ran for 323 yards and two touchdowns on 44 carries.
“It was a great effort by Tucker,” Notre Dame coach Tom Marcucci said. “He had some big runs and he had some called back. He could have run for a lot more. It was a big effort from him.”
The first half belonged to Tucker and Philips as each ran wild for their respective teams. Philips had a pair of touchdown runs and gained 114 yards, while Tucker pounded out 172 yards and Notre Dame’s only score of the half.
Philips started the game with a bang. Using four spectacular cuts, Philips went in and out of traffic and scored on a 66-yard run.
Tucker was not to be denied as he displayed a dazzling run of his own just 1:50 later. Tucker ran off two West Haven tackles then sped past the West Haven defense to even the game at 7 with 4:05 left in the opening quarter.
“He (Tucker) ran for a ton of yards,” McCarthy said. “He was very good out there.”
Philips gave West Haven a 15-7 lead with 9:16 remaining in the first half. After Duane Gary ran for 16 yards, Philips capped the 2-play drive with a 14-yard run off right tackle. Philips ran in the conversion for the 8-point lead.
West Haven then turned in the play of the game on the opening kickoff of the second half. Williams took the kickoff 70 yards for the score, giving West Haven a 21-7 lead just 12 seconds into the second half.
“My coaches just told me to be ready because the ball was coming to me,” Williams said. “I got it and juist went full speed.
“This feels so good, especially as a senior. We have so many weapons. There is so much we can do. We just want to work hard as a team and keep getting better.”
The Green Knights (1-2) drove deep into West Haven territory on the first two possessions of the second half but came up empty. West Haven took advantage, pulling away when Gary followed his blocks and raced 54 yards for a score 23 seconds into the fourth quarter.
“West Haven has some very good backs,” Marcucci said. “They are very athletic. They do a nice job with the ball. Ervin Philips is a great back and the other two are really good.”
Williams gave the Westies a 34-7 lead with a 28-yard touchdown run with 2:57 remaining before Tucker capped the scoring 51 seconds later with a 40-yard score.
Gary ran for 124 yards and a touchdown on 9 carries, while Williams rushed for 70 yards and a score on 9 carries.
Westies rally past Guilford
Philips, Williams lead come-from-behind win
By MIKE MADERA
Tom "Tinker" Blake contributed to this article
(September 21, 2012) – Following West Haven’s season-opening win overHamden, head coach Ed McCarthy and his staff warned his team aboutGuilford. Letting the team know it could not look ahead to Notre Dame next week, McCarthy wanted his team’s sole focus on Guilford.
Through the first three minutes of Friday evening’s game, McCarthy had to be wondering if his team had listened. Guilford scored the first 14 points of the game, but the Westies rallied and held on to defeat the Indians 40-28 at Guilford High.
“We are not very happy,” McCarthy said. “We did get the win. That’s the most important thing.
“We tried to tell the kids they (Guilford) run the ball very well and their quarterback is very good with the ball. They were much crisper on the option.”
Ervin Philips and Eddy Williams led the comeback as each scored three times. Philips ran for 101 yards and had 37 receiving yards, while Williams ran for 93 yards.
“We ran the ball very well,” McCarthy said. “The offense played very well until the fourth quarter. They made some stops and made things interesting.”
Guilford jumped on the Westies quickly with K.C. Horton scoring on the opening possession of the game from 6 yards out to give Guilford a 7-0 lead with 3 minutes, 31 seconds gone by in the game.
The Indians then recovered an onside kick at the West Haven 40 and wasted no time capitalizing. Guilford quarterback Joey Nault hit Duke Knapp for 30 yards and Eric Zergiebel scored from 8 yards out for a 14-0 lead.
“Last week, we started slowly,” McCarthy said. “This week, we were in reverse.”
West Haven had seen enough and got the ship going in the right direction, scoring 34 unanswered points.
Eddy Williams put West Haven on the board before the first quarter ended with a 27-yard score and Philips evened the game with a 25-yard score with 2:42 gone by in the second quarter.
After the first two Guilford drives, the West Haven defense adjusted to Guilford’s option and started to make plays. The play of the defense allowed the Westies to pull ahead.
Williams scored his second touchdown of the night from 20 yards out off the left tackle with 3:57 remaining in the half for a 21-14 lead. When Philips raced in off the left side from 6 yards out with 50.6 seconds left in the half, West Haven had a 28-14 lead.
Philips extended the lead to 34-14 with a 4-yard run with 4:20 gone by in the third quarter but Guilford was not done.
The Indians used a 30-yard pass from Nault to get to the West Haven 11 and Antonio Pensa ran the final 11 yards to cut the deficit to 34-21. Horton then scored his second touchdown of the game, a 19-yard score on a misdirection play, to cut the deficit to 34-28 with one quarter to play.
“Our coaches were ready to play, but the team wasn’t,” McCarthy said. “We tried to tell them it was going to be a close game. They decided not to buy it.”
The Westies’ defense came up big late in the game. With 6 minutes remaining, West Haven stopped Guilford on fourth down on the Indians’ 35.
Williams capped the short drive with a 2-yard run for a 40-14 lead with 3:51 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Eddy Williams scores on a 61-yard run against Hamden, September 14, 2012. Photo courtesy of Todd Dandelske.
Westies run past Hamden in season opener
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (September 14, 2012) – Hamden football coach Tony Martone was well aware of the problem the speed of West Haven could cause. Knowing is one thing. Stopping the Westies is another.
Behind the running of Eddy Williams and Ervin Philips and the quarterback play of Javon Taylor, West Haven scored 45 unanswered points in defeatingHamden 45-6 in the season opener for both teams at Ken Strong Stadium Friday evening.
“In all my years of coaching and all the games I have played against West Haven, he (Philips) may truly be the best running back since the 1980’s,” Martone said. “He made some cuts which were just outstanding. He has a second gear that other kids just don’t have.”
Philips ran for 102 yards and a touchdown on ten carries and caught two passes for 78 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“It is the first game of the season and we are going to need time to gel,” Philips said. “We have a new quarterback. Eddy ran the ball well. He took a lot of pressure off me. I really like to catch and run. I think I am a versatile player.”
Williams, a senior, was equally impressive as he ran for 119 yards on 20 carries and scored three first quarter touchdowns. Williams also played a solid game on defense.
Read the rest of this article in the Milford-Orange Bulletin here
Ready to Go
Westies looking for return to postseason
By MIKE MADERA
Looking back at last season, it would be hard to say the season for the West Haven football team was not successful with seven wins despite not playing in the postseason. With a storied tradition and with head coach Ed McCarthy leading the way, the standard has always been to win a state championship.
Last season, West Haven saw its sensational running back Ervin Philips hurt in the sixth game of the year and the offense suffered. While the Westies lost receiver Tahir Manning, running back Darius Blagmon and quarterback Nick Nieves to graduation and James Moore to a transfer to Hillhouse, the best news for West Haven is Philips, a junior, returns healthy and ready to go.
“Our running game is the strength of our team, Ervin in particular,” McCarthy said. “We like where we are with that group. Ervin is a special player.”
Philips will have plenty of help on the offensive side as junior Duane Gary and seniors Eddy Williams, Andre Gee and Bobby Sampson return in the backfield to form a potent ground attack.
If the ground game was not scary enough for opponents to worry about, the aerial attack should be just as good as senior quarterback Javon Taylor comes from Wilbur Cross to lead the offense. According to McCarthy, Taylorhas picked up the offense quite well early on.
“He (Taylor) is improving every day,” McCarthy said. “He has worked really hard mentally to learn the offense. He is going to be a very good quarterback. He is not running as much right now but as time goes on, he will run more.”
Taylor will have quick targets to throw to. Sophomore tight end Tayvon Gibbs has progressed very well according to McCarthy and the trio of sophomores Thomas Brim and Jason Wilkerson and junior John Brolet will be the primary targets for Taylor. Brim will also be the backup quarterback.
“Tayvon Gibbs is a very good player,” McCarthy said. “I feel confident in the offense.”
For the offense to have any success, the play of the line will be pivotal. Senior Adam Annunziato will play center, seniors Qusaan Hoskie and Jake Vasilescu will anchor the guard spots, while the tackles will be manned by senior Billy Barrett and junior Elijah Gaskins.
With plenty of weapons on the offensive side, West Haven will turn to the defense to make big stops. The Westies struggled at times last season on the defensive side, allowing too many big plays.
This season, West Haven hopes to turn things around. The first order of business for the Westies will be finding a replacement for the graduated Mike Last who clogged the middle with his physical play.
The 2012 Westies will turn to a linebacker crew which will feature returning juniors Jesse Ridgway and Nyrell Moore on the inside and seniors Kadialy Toure and Eric Lanziero on the outside.
The secondary will consist of seniors Sampson and JaWaun Manning at the corner positions and Gee, and a combination of Brim and Gary at the safety spots.
Williams and senior Robert Hayes will play defensive end with a combination of Annunziato, Hoskie, Vasilescu, Barrett and Gaskins rotating on the line as well.
“I am concerned with the defense,” McCarthy said. “It has been a struggle in the preseason. We think we have the right guys there. We are rotating guys that are not getting it done. We have a lot of football players that will hopefully get it going.”
With Annunziato, Williams, Philips and Toure leading the way as captains, the goal is the same. Aside from playing one game at a time, the ultimate goal is playing in the postseason and advancing to the title game.
“Our goal is always to get to the playoffs and win,” McCarthy said. “We realize that is putting pressure on ourselves. The keys are the defense has to play better than last year, we have to keep Ervin Philips healthy and the development of the quarterback is big. Ervin is a very talented player. He is a great player.
“We have the experience. We have a lot of seniors. There are nineteen. We have a lot of guys which have played a lot of football.”
West Haven opens the season, Friday evening, September 14, against Hamden at 7 p.m.
Westies fall to Staples in Class LL quarterfinals
By MIKE MADERA
WESTPORT – With rain and snow in the forecast many CIAC quarterfinal contests were postponed until Wednesday. For West Haven, the team could have used another day.
Knowing quarterback Javon Taylor was nursing a shoulder injury, the Westies had to put a new game plan in place in just four days. With Ervin Philips running the offense in the Wildcat formation, the Westies hoped to confuse the Wreckers.
Staples was anything but confused on the night. The Wreckers scored on their first four drives of the game, needing only six plays to take a 28-0 lead, and never looked back in a 42-20 victory over the Westies in the Class LL quarterfinals in Westport.
“(Quarterback) Javon (Taylor) could not play,” West Haven coach Ed McCarthy said. “He could not throw the ball. All he could do was hand off. His shoulder is pretty banged up.
“We put a new offense in in two days. We had only had a couple of days and it is really tough to emulate their speed. But, our offense wasn’t the problem early. They just came out and took it to us.”
The turning point of the game came early. After Staples quarterback Jack Massie hit James Frusciante with a 60-yard touchdown pass on the first offensive play of the game for a 7-0 lead, the Westies broke out their new offense.
The new look seemed to work as Philips carried the ball 8 times for 68 yards and the Westies were in business at the Staples’ 8-yard line.
Read the Stamford Advocate article here
Read the Norwalk Hour here
On to the Second Season
24-7 win over Fairfield Prep sends Westies to postseason against Staples
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (November 22, 2012) – After suffering a complete thumping at the hands of Xavier 10 days earlier, West Haven coach Ed McCarthy was not sure how his team would respond. Up until kickoff against Fairfield Prep, McCarthy still was not sure.
It took the Westies just three series into the game to ease the concerns of theWest Haven head coach. Scoring the first three times they touched the ball, the Westies defeated Fairfield Prep 24-7 at Ken Strong Stadium Thanksgiving morning.
With the victory, West Haven improved to 8-2 and clinched the No. 8 seed in the Class LL playoffs. The Westies will face top-seeded Staples in the quarterfinals Tuesday evening in Westport at 6:30 p.m.
“I really was not sure how it (Xavier) would affect us until today,” McCarthy said. “It was bad. Our confidence was shaken. I did not know how we would respond. We have great kids, but I just did not know.”
For the Jesuits (6-4), head coach Tom Shea refused to blame the forfeits of Westhill earlier in the week for using an ineligible player which cost the Jesuits points and hurt their playoff chances, as a reason the Jesuits did not get off to a quick start in the game.
“We did not come out and win today,” Shea said. “We didn’t come out and do what we had to do. We lost to Notre Dame and Amity. Had we won, we would still be alive. We didn’t do what we needed to do. We can’t control that outside stuff.”
The Westies showed the loss to Xavier was behind them right from the start. The tone was set early by Eddy Williams as the West Haven senior ran for 141 yards in the first half and opened the scoring with a 59-yard touchdown run on West Haven’s fourth offensive play of the game for a 7-0 lead.
“Today was huge for us,” Williams said after rushing for 167 yards on 17 carries in the game. “We felt it was all on the defense. We knew the offense would put up points so we had to play well on defense.
“We had some guys under pressure but pressure is just a shadow of great opportunities. We made the plays out here today.”
After Jesse Ridgway and company came up with big plays to force the Jesuits to punt on their second possession, the Westies needed 6 plays to march 88 yards. Williams ran up the middle for 49 yards and Javon Taylor hit Ervin Philips with a 30-yard pass before Duane Gary capped the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run for a 14-0 lead with 1 minute, 32 seconds remaining in the opening quarter.
“We wanted to rebound from the last game,” Ridgway said. “This is really big for us. This is my first time going to a playoff game as a player. It feels great.”
The Westies, who held the Jesuits to just 38 yards of offense in the opening quarter and 194 in the game, forced Prep to punt on its next possession.
West Haven needed just 7 plays to take a 21-0 lead 3:10 into the second quarter. Philips had a run of 22 yards and Williams capped the drive with a 1-yard plunge.
“We were almost perfect the first three drives,” McCarthy said. “We thought we could run on them. Eddy is just one of the fastest guys in the state.”
The Jesuits finally answered with 5:12 remaining in the first half. Quarterback Strecker Backe heated up on the drive, hitting John Dellisanti for 15 yards to start the drive and ended the possession with a 39-yard pass to a wide open Dellisanti for a score to cut the deficit to 21-7.
West Haven, which finished with 390 yards of offense, was content to take time off the clock in the second half. Although the Westies’ initial drive of the second half stalled at the Jesuit 9-yard line, the Westies ran 6:59 off the clock to start the half.
Ridgway intercepted a Backe pass five plays later and the Westies put the game away. Tayvon Gibbs connected on a 29-yard field goal with 59 seconds remaining in the third quarter for the final margin of victory.
“We were plagued by giving up big plays,” Shea said. “We have some young guys who still have to learn we need to improve on our consistency. They (West Haven) are very consistent and that’s why they are going on and we are not.”
Backe finished with 135 yards, with a touchdown and an interception in the air, on 13 completions.
Falcons soar past Westies
WH needs win in season finale to play in postseason
By MIKE MADERA
MIDDLETOWN (November 12, 2012) – It was marked as the showdown between Class LL powers. Xavier and West Haven came into Monday evening’s contest with one loss, each falling to Hand-Madison.
While the loser still had a very good chance of qualifying for the postseason, the game looked to be a classic. Instead, Tim Boyle and company showed they are still a team to be reckoned with.
Boyle threw for 303 yards, including 259 in the first half, and the Falcons scored 28 points in the second quarter to easily defeat West Haven 42-7 at Palmer Field in Middletown.
With the win, Xavier improves to 8-1 and will face undefeated Middletownin a Thanksgiving showdown, while the Westies fell to 7-2 and will need to defeat Fairfield Prep at home Thanksgiving morning to play in the postseason.
“We watched a lot of film,” Boyle said after throwing three touchdown passes. “We felt we had the big wide receivers. Their defensive backs are quick but we felt we had the advantage there. We came out a little more intense today.”
The Falcons came out of the gates quickly and never stopped. The only battle Xavier lost on the night was the coin flip as the Falcons dominated the Westies to a tune of 306-12 total yards in the first half. By the time the game ended, Xavier had accumulated 440 yards and allowed only 117.
Read the rest of this article in the Milford-Orange Bulletin here
Westies cruise past Cross
Defense comes up big in 47-12 victory
By MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (November 3, 2012) – Ed McCarthy was well aware of the importance of Saturday evening’s contest against Wilbur Cross. Having come off a big win over Cheshire and with the battle with Xavier a week away, the West Haven coach knew his team needed to come away with a victory in what could have been considered a trap game.
The Westies did just that. Creating six turnovers, including five fumble recoveries, the Westies defeated Wilbur Cross 47-12 at Ken Strong Stadium on Senior Night. With the victory, West Haven improves to 7-1 and will prepare for Friday evening’s battle against the Falcons.
“It was a crazy week,” McCarthy said. “We lost a couple of days with the weather. We did not practice Monday or Tuesday. They were in the same boat. We knew this was a big game. It was a nutty week.”
While the West Haven defense did its job, the offense, despite its struggles with 4 turnovers, dominated on the ground. The Westies ran for 259 yards, including 177 by Eddy Williams.
Williams scored in the first and third quarters before resting in the latter part of the game as the Westies played everyone on the bench.
Williams capped a 5-play, 42-yard drive on West Haven’s first possession with a 5-yard score. Tayvon Gibbs’ extra point gave West Haven a 7-0 lead with 3 minutes, 44 seconds gone by in the game.
Read the rest of this article in the Milford-Orange Bulletin here
Westies run by Cheshire
Philips, Gary lead WH past Rams, 49-20
BY MIKE MADERA
WEST HAVEN (October 26, 2012) - The Cheshire football team had West Haven right where the Rams wanted it in a Southern Connecticut Conference Division I East contest Friday evening. Leading in the first quarter and having taken 7 minutes off the clock, momentum was clearly on Cheshire’s side,
For the Rams, a not so funny thing happened. West Haven, the No. 9 team in the Register Top 10 poll, turned to Ervin Philips and its running game to score 22 unanswered points in a 49-20 West Haven victory at Ken Strong Stadium.
“What can you do about the beginning of the game,?” West Haven coach Ed McCarthy said. “We have a pretty good running game. We did some good things. We made some plays on offense.”
Philips was a thorn in the side of the Rams as the junior running back was involved in four touchdowns, scoring twice on the ground, once on a punt return and another on a pass to Andre Gee.
“We were hurting from last week,” Philips said referring to the loss to top-ranked Hand. “Someone had to feel our pain. We feel we are a good team. We just come out and play hard.”
West Haven was stunned on the opening kickoff as the Rams recovered a fumble. West Haven held, but on its second offensive play, fumbled into the endzone and Matthew Gardiner recovered for a touchdown. Samuel Pascale ran in the conversion and Cheshire led 8-0 with 5 minutes, 5 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
West Haven’s ground game then took over. Philips put the momentum on West Haven’s side with a 39-yard touchdown run with 2:03 remaining in the first quarter to get West Haven within 8-6, capping a 6-play, 60-yard drive.
Duane Gary put the Westies in front on West Haven’s next possession as he scored the first of his two touchdowns with a 20-yard run to cap a 9-play, 82-yard drive. Philips ran in the conversion for a 14-8 lead with 8:30 left in the first half.
“I just go out there and do my thing,” Gary said after running for 111 yards and 2 touchdowns on 12 carries. “I have to thank the line. They opened the holes and I just did what I had to do.
“We are a really good football team. We are all a family. We work together.”
Philips then made the play of the game with 1:17 to go in the first half. Fielding a Cheshire punt at the West Haven 25-yard line, Philips stopped on a dime, made Cheshire commit, then ran in and out of traffic for a 75-yard touchdown and a 22-8 West Haven lead following Gary’s run on the conversion.
“We had the momentum and they took it back with the punt return from a very good football player,” Cheshire coach Don Drust said. “We score to start the second half, but they came back and scored.
“That’s a good football team. They played with Hand and they were in position to win the game. I thought we played very hard. These kids don’t stop playing.”
Cheshire opened the second half with a quick score as Vincent Sansone (7-of-23 for 123 yards and an interception) hit Owen Rockwell with a 14-yard touchdown. The extra point was blocked by Jawaun Manning and West Haven led 22-14.
“I thought we did some good things,” McCarthy said. “Our kids are pretty mature. I think we were prepared.”
The Westies needed just two plays to respond. After Gary ran for 6 yards, Philips turned to the air to increase West Haven’s lead.
Philips (130 yards on 13 carries) and Gary controlled the rest of the game. Philips hit Andre Gee with a 45-yard scoring strike, then ran in from 4 yards out on West Haven’s next possession with 5:49 left in the third quarter for a 36-14 lead.
Gary ran in from 6 yards out 52 seconds into the fourth quarter and Robert Hayes scored from 5 yards with 2:38 remaining to wrap up West Haven’s scoring. Pascale ran in from 5 yards out in the final 5 seconds for the final score of the game.
West Haven accumulated 434 yards of total offense, while holding Cheshire to 262 yards, including just 83 in the first half.
Westies fall to top-ranked Hand, 21-20
By MIKE MADERA
MADISON (October 20, 2012) – Waiting an extra day because of rain did not spoil the football contest between Hand and West Haven Saturday afternoon. The game had all the type and it lived up to the billing.
In a position to upset the Tigers, ranked No. 1 in the New Haven Register Top 10 poll, the No. 8 Westies went for the 2-point conversion after Ervin Philips scored from 1 yard out with 3 minutes, 32 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Javon Taylor had three receivers open and floated a pass to Philips. Turning Philips around, the pass just fell incomplete and Hand held on for a 21-20 victory at the Surf Club in Madison.
“We had a little problem with our first extra point,” West Haven coach Ed McCarthy said. “Our kicker has been around 65 to 70 percent all year. It is not a sure thing.
“We had a good play called. We had three guys open. I think the ball just got stuck in his (Taylor) hands. But, that wasn’t the only play. There were others. We had to hold them with three change left and we didn’t. It was a great game.”
Hand coach Steve Filippone had nothing but praise for the Westies.
“If we are the number one team, then we have played numbers two and three (Xavier and West Haven),” Filippone said. “I don’t think there is a better team out there than West Haven and that might even be including us.
“They are a very, very good team. They are very tough on defense. They don’t make the mistakes like they used to. They make big plays. They are a very, very good team.”
The game had classic written all over it from the start. The Tigers (6-0) were coming off an upset of then top-ranked Xavier and West Haven (5-1) was looking to return the favor.
After Philips could not connect with a wide open Andre Gee down the sideline during West Haven’s second possession of the game, the Westies held Hand on a fake punt and took over at the Tigers’ 43.
Three plays later, Eddy Williams busted up the middle for a 36-yard touchdown and a 6-0 West Haven lead with 4:03 to go in the opening quarter. The Westies never had a chance at the extra point as the snap sailed high over Tayvon Gibbs.
Hand took the lead with 55 seconds gone by in the second quarter as a 7-play drive was culminated with a 4-yard run by Ian O’Toole. Tyler Phan’s extra point gave Hand a 7-6 lead.
West Haven’s defense, which snuffed three Hand fourth down attempts in the first half, capitalized on Eric Lanziero’s interception of a Brendan Bilcheck pass on fourth down at the West Haven 29.
“This defense has started to play well,” McCarthy said. “We had a good defensive effort last week. We had some big plays today.”
A 6-play drive included a 34-yard pass from Taylor to Duane Gary and ended when Philips ran around the right edge for a 21-yard score Taylorthen hit Kadialy Toure with the 2-point conversion for a 14-7 lead with 3:46 left in the half.
Hand answered the bell and scored with 44 seconds left in the half. A 12-play drive, which saw Bilcheck complete 7 passes for 60 yards, ended when Matt Walsh rumbled in from 16 yards out to even the game at 14.
“I have watched them on film for a few weeks,” Filippone said. “I knew they were going to be a tough team to play against.”
The Westies had the first big scoring opportunity in the second half, using a 20-yard pass from Taylor to Philips and a 14-yard run by Philips to set up shop at the Hand 23. Two plays later, Taylor was intercepted in the Hand endzone, ending the threat.
The momentum seemed to change on that possession as Hand marched inside the West Haven 10 on its next possession. On 4th-and-2 from the 9, Walsh was denied, giving West Haven the ball with 12 seconds left in the third quarter.
Hand forced a punt and took over at the West Haven 22, following Matthew Sullivan’s punt return. After a sack by Shaneal Thompson and Jesse Ridgway forced a 3rd-and-goal at the 15, Bilcheck hit Thomas Schultz for 14 yards.
With West Haven attempting to deny Hand on another fourth down, the Tigers converted. Walsh bulled his way in from 1-yard out and coupled with Phan’s extra point, Hand led 21-14 with 5:54 remaining in the game.
West Haven did not need much time to respond. On the second play from scrimmage, Taylor hit Gary with a 51-yard pass to the Hand 8. Three Philips’ runs later got West Haven within 21-20 before the 2-point conversion failed.
“We left it all on the field,” McCarthy said. “This league is tough. We feel we are a playoff team but the system is tough. Will we get there? We hope to.”
Philips finished the game with 89 yards rushing on 17 carries. Taylor was 4-of-11 for 115 yards with 2 interceptions.Bilcheck was 22-of-27 for 169 yards for the Tigers. The senior quarterback also ran for 87 yards.