Charger’s suffocating defense too much for Hawks

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Woodland’s Tanner Kingsley looks for an open receiver last Friday night against Ansonia. The Charger’s stifling defense held the Hawks signal caller to 21 yards through the air. RA ARCHIVE

BEACON FALLS — For 15 minutes last Friday night, Woodland played toe-to-toe with Ansonia. Unfortunately for the Hawks, high school football games are 48 minutes long.

The Chargers held Woodland to just 169 yards and a late fourth-quarter touchdown in a dominant, 36-6 victory over the Hawks before about 600 fans at Woodland.

The Chargers (2-0) didn’t allow Woodland (1-1) to earn a first down until the second quarter and before the starters came out in the fourth period, Ansonia gave up just 97 yards while letting the Hawks run only four plays in Charger territory.

“Their defense was better than I thought they were,” Woodland coach Tim Shea said. “There were a lot of collisions. It was a very good football game, we were just on the short end of the stick.”

Woodland’s defense played a field-position battle with the Chargers until Ansonia star running back Arkeel Newsome finally broke through with a 59-yard touchdown run through the right side of his line to make it 6-0.

On the next series, he punched in a 12-yard score that he set up with a 58-yard punt return to the Woodland 29-yard line, making it 14-0 at the half.

“I give it to the line tonight,” Newsome said. “They helped me push forward. They picked me up. They told me to keep running hard.”

Ansonia coach Tom Brockett was pleased with Newsome’s persistence after the hard hits he took throughout the first quarter.

“That’s part of being a great back,” Brockett said. “You have to be patient. That’s a good football team and I thought we did a good job to stay with it. We knew coming in that’s a tough box to run the football against. Our offensive line came through and starting making holes.”

While Newsome found his groove, the Chargers’ defense buckled down further on Woodland’s offense. They forced punts on six-straight drives—including four three-and-out series—to start the game.

Ansonia upped the ante in the second half by forcing two fumbles and a turnover on downs before the varsity defense earned a rest midway through the fourth quarter.

The Chargers held Matt Zaccagnini to 64 rushing yards on 22 attempts while Tanner Kingsley was 5-of-18 for 21 yards.

“It looked like we had a little problem with their blitzing early,” Shea said. “Tanner was touched but we didn’t find a rhythm. We dropped some balls and never really got it going. When you go three-and-out so many times, you can’t get a rhythm and the defense can’t get off the field.”

The more the Hawks’ defense was on the field, the more Newsome wore it down.

He added a 61-yard touchdown run on the second play of the second half to make it 22-0 and a 13-yard score early in the fourth quarter to widen the margin to 29-0. Newsome’s four touchdowns increased his season total to 10 after just two games.

“He’s electric,” Brockett said. “If you put the ball in his hands enough, good things are going to happen.”

The sophomore finished the night with 196 yards on 26 attempts and Shea’s respect.

“He’s the next in a long line of backs down there,” Shea said. “We had him at times, but we had to finish. A good back will be patient and he was.”

Dennis Danley scored on a 1-yard run to give the Chargers a 36-0 lead late in the game before Taylor Tucciarone got the Hawks on the board with a 25-yard run with less than a minute to go.

Woodland gets a break from Naugatuck Valley League play this week when it faces Southern Connecticut Conference foe Jonathan Law (0-2) on Friday in Beacon Falls.