Big plays down Hawks

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Woodland’s Dave Bobbie (32) picks up some of his 140 yards on the ground Nov. 14 versus Holy Cross in Beacon Falls. Holy Cross won the game, 14-7. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Woodland’s Dave Bobbie (32) picks up some of his 140 yards on the ground Nov. 14 versus Holy Cross in Beacon Falls. Holy Cross won the game, 14-7. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

BEACON FALLS — For Woodland head football coach Tim Phipps last Friday’s 14-7 loss to Holy Cross boiled down to one thing.

“We made too many mistakes and we made too many mistakes at the wrong time,” Phipps said.

The fatal mistake for the Hawks came in the fourth quarter.

Holy Cross’ Breonte Nealy got behind the defense on a third-and-six and broke loose for a 65-yard touchdown catch with 9:33 left in the game. Tyler Gargano added the extra point to give the Crusaders (7-3) a 14-7 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

“They got us with that big play and we couldn’t recover from that,” Phipps said.

The Hawks (3-6) would get a final chance to pull even with the Crusaders.

The Hawks took over at midfield with 6:09 left and put together their best drive of the second half. After picking up a first down on third-and-2 on a quarterback sneak, Mike Kenny hit Jon Scirpo for 25 yards to set Woodland up at the Holy Cross 11.

The Crusaders stiffened and forced fourth down from the 5-yard line with under 2 minutes to go. Kenny bootlegged to his left and threw to an open Sean McAllen in the end zone, but Nealy tipped the ball just enough and it slipped through McAllen’s hands.
The Hawks were called for an illegal formation penalty on the play, which Holy Cross declined.

Holy Cross took over with 1:32 left and Woodland holding two timeouts. The Crusaders picked up the first down with the help of an offside penalty on the Hawks to ice the game.

The loss was the second heartbreaker in as many weeks for the Hawks. On Nov. 14 Woodland had Ansonia on the ropes only to see a 12-point lead disappear in the final 2 ½ minutes.

Phipps said there could have a little emotional hangover, but that his team was fired up to face Holy Cross.

“You didn’t have to get them up in practice. They were excited. They showed up. They studied game plans. They knew what they had to do,” Phipps said.

However, the mistakes, whether penalties, turnovers or missed assignments, were just too much for Woodland to overcome.

“We made mistakes at the wrong times — not that mistakes are good at any time,” Phipps said. “I think that when we really needed it, we would make a mistake.”

After forcing a three-and-out on the first possession of the game, Woodland looked primed to strike first. The Hawks took over at their 18 and churned up chucks of the yards on the ground. But the promising first drive ended with a fumble at the Holy Cross 30.

Woodland’s Mike Kenney (9) returns a kickoff Nov. 14 versus Holy Cross in Beacon Falls. Holy Cross won the game, 14-7. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI
Woodland’s Mike Kenney (9) returns a kickoff Nov. 14 versus Holy Cross in Beacon Falls. Holy Cross won the game, 14-7. –ELIO GUGLIOTTI

The Crusaders took advantage of the Woodland miscue. Quarterback Joe Kalosky hit Nealy for 46 yards on a third down to the Woodland 27. Drew Bialoglowy took it the rest of the way for a 27-yard touchdown run to put Holy Cross ahead 7-0 at the 6:50 mark in the first.

Aside from a handful a big plays, the Woodland defense held the Crusaders to 73 yards on 31 plays and forced two turnovers.

“I thought they played aggressive, I thought they played hard,” Phipps said of the defense.

Coby Vaccarelli, who also forced a fumble, set up the offense at the Holy Cross 40 after picking off Kalosky with just under 10 minutes left in the first half.

The Hawks capitalized on the turnover when Dave Bobbie, who rushed for 140 yards on 22 carries, ran in a touchdown from 4 yards out. Lauren Charette kicked the extra point to knot the game at 7-7 with 3:30 left in the first half.

The Hawks missed a golden opportunity to make their own big play when Kenney returned the second half kickoff inside the Holy Cross 10 only to see the return called back on a block in the back penalty. The game remained knotted at 7-7 through the third and into the fourth where it would be the Crusaders and Nealy who made the big play.

Woodland heads on the road to take on Derby Friday at 7 p.m.