Hawks crush Cats, end Thanksgiving drought

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SEYMOUR — Finally.

In one of the most incredible showings of offensive production in Woodland history, the Hawks ended a five-game losing streak to Seymour with a dominating, 55-32 win over the Wildcats on Thanksgiving Eve at DeBarber Field.

A pair of all-time performances paced the Black and Gold—both junior tailback Jack DeBiase and senior wingback Brandon Fowler enjoyed monster nights, accounting for seven of the Hawks’ eight touchdowns. DeBiase finished with a career-high 252 yards and four scores on 19 carries, while Fowler racked up 137 yards on just four carries with two touchdowns, along with a 78-yard TD reception. In all, the Hawks gained 546 yards of offense on only 31 plays.

Woodland junior running back Jack DeBiase (10) breaks through the Seymour defense on a kick return as junior Jake Pinho (3) holds his block. DeBiase rushed for a career-high 252 yards in the Hawks' 55-32 win.

Woodland junior running back Jack DeBiase (10) breaks through the Seymour defense on a kick return as junior Jake Pinho (3) holds his block. DeBiase rushed for a career-high 252 yards in the Hawks' 55-32 win.

“We came in here fired up,” Woodland head coach Tim Shea said. “We wanted to take over the tempo of the game and scoring as quickly as we did allowed us to do that. … Jack broke some long ones, but we’ve come to expect that kind of performance out of him, and were able to get Brandon involved again, which worked out really well for us.”

Trailing, 6-0, after a 25-yard touchdown run by Seymour’s Jacob Drozd on the Cats’ first possession, the Hawks quickly answered with a 42-yard gallop by DeBiase midway through the first quarter for the first of his four rushing scores on the night. He did the same halfway through the second, after the Cats took a 12-7 lead, by busting a 70-yard scoring run.

Woodland took a 27-12 lead into the half, after scoring twice inside the final three minutes of the second quarter. Petracca hooked up with Fowler on a 78-yard pass before senior wingback Tyler Slapikas sprinted 41 yards with 30 seconds remaining in the period.

The Hawks widened their lead in the third, as DeBiase and Fowler continued to control the game. DeBiase, the Naugatuck Valley League’s leading rusher, punched in his third score of the night on a 31-yard burst midway through the period, and on the next possession, Fowler sprung a 74-yard scoring run to make it 41-18. Incredibly, from the 6:14 mark of the second quarter until the 2:11 mark of the third, the Hawks ran just 10 offensive plays but scored 34 points.

Seymour attempted to make a comeback, scoring at the outset of the fourth on a 5-yard pass by Connor Shugrue then recovering an onside kick and securing another touchdown on a 1-yard sneak by Shugrue to close the deficit to 41-32 with 6:04 remaining.

Junior Chris D’Occhio came away with Seymour’s second onside attempt, leading to a 5-yard run for DeBiase’s fourth and final touchdown of the night. In fact, the junior’s last touchdown culminated the only Woodland drive of the night that lasted more than four plays, a telltale sign of how the Hawks’ offense utilized the big play all night.

For good measure, Fowler notched the final touchdown of his fine career on a 55-yard run with 56 seconds remaining to seal the 55-32 win for Woodland, the first time the Hawks have defeated Seymour since 2004, and the first time Woodland has ever defeated Seymour on Thanksgiving Eve.

Woodland senior Brandon Fowler (5) runs behind the block of senior Tyler Slapikas on one of his long gains on the night. Fowler had three touchdowns to help lead the Hawks to a 55-32 win over Seymour Wednesday night at DeBarber Field.

Woodland senior Brandon Fowler (5) runs behind the block of senior Tyler Slapikas on one of his long gains on the night. Fowler had three touchdowns to help lead the Hawks to a 55-32 win over Seymour Wednesday night at DeBarber Field.

“I really don’t even know what to say,” Fowler said in the afterglow of the win. “It was the last game for us seniors, and it was really like a championship game for us. It was really important for us to win like that. It’s always one of our goals we set before the season to beat Seymour, and it feels great to finally do it.”

“We knew we needed a good game plan, and we came out and executed it,” Shea said. “It’s a huge turnaround for us from last year. We felt like we were going to turn it around in the offseason. We wanted to send the seniors out with a bang, and I think we did it.”

Quick Notes: DeBiase’s 252 yards rushing breaks the rivalry’s single-game rushing record previously held by Woodland’s Jon Murren (247 yards, three TDs in 2007) … DeBiase set the school’s single-season rushing yards per game mark, finishing with a 137.6 average, topping Pat Krakowski’s record of 125.3 per game in 2004 … Woodland’s 55 points is the most scored by the Hawks since their 56-12 win over Torrington on Oct. 5, 2007 and eclipses Woodland’s previous high score against Seymour by 20 points (set in a 36-35 loss in 2007) … DeBiase’s 22 touchdowns this season is fourth in school history, trailing Jeff Jones (27 in 2005), Will Volage (26 in 2007) and Pat Krakowski (24 in 2004), and his 1,376 rushing yards is second to Krakowski’s 1,503 in 2004 … Woodland finished with at least seven wins for the fifth time in eight varsity seasons and finished above .500 for the sixth time and has never had consecutive losing seasons … Woodland’s 23-point margin of victory is the second-largest in series history, bested only by Seymour’s 41-14 win in the inaugural matchup in 2003 … The combined 87 points in the game is a series record, breaking the previous record of 74 points (set in Seymour’s 46-28 win in the 2007 Class SS semifinal) … Mike Uszakiewicz recorded another sack, marking the fifth-straight game in which he recorded at least a half sack … This is the Hawks’ second-ever win at DeBarber Field and first over the Wildcats in Seymour (Woodland beat Holy Cross, 21-14, in the 2005 NVL championship at DeBarber) … Woodland’s only other win over the Cats did not come on Thanksgiving Eve, but the day after Turkey Day in 2004, as the game was postponed due to inclement weather.

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