The Chargers suffocated the Hawks’ varsity offense en route to taking a 45-0 lead in 25 minutes of action as Ansonia coasted to a 47-16 victory at Jarvis Stadium.
“We didn’t execute,” Woodland coach Tim Shea said. “At times, we did not do what we were taught and what we practiced. When you do stuff like that, this is the result.”
The Hawks dedicated their defensive effort to slowing superstar running back Arkeel Newsome, and it worked for most of the first half. Newsome tallied just one total yard on his first five carries and finished the half with a little more than 100 yards and two scores, far below his usual production.
But neither Woodland nor most spectators expected the Chargers to utilize their passing game as well as they did. Sophomore quarterback Jai’Quan McKnight was 8-for-8 with 215 yards and three touchdowns, all three coming in the first half to senior receiver Andrew Matos.
“Those kids on the outside were good last year but they’ve improved,” Ansonia coach Tom Brockett said. “Those are dynamic kids on the outside. Andrew Matos has turned into one of the best receivers in Connecticut.”
Before those guys got going, though, Woodland nearly took a lead early in the first quarter. Two big third-down conversions by Joe Fancher — one on a screen pass from Tanner Kingsley and another on a long run — brought the Hawks to the Ansonia 11-yard line.
On fourth-and-8 from the 9, Kingsley kept it and only made it to the 6-yard line, giving Ansonia the ball on downs.
The Chargers switched to a tight, double-wing formation to loosen up Woodland’s defense before McKnight took a mini-flea flicker from Newsome and heaved it to a wide-open Matos for an 80-yard touchdown and a 6-0 lead.
Matos later caught a 43-yard touchdown pass over two Woodland defenders and a 23-yarder just before halftime. Newsome added two touchdown runs in the first half and a 56-yarder on the first play of the second half to give Ansonia a 45-0 lead before its starters left the game.
“We put everybody in the box,” Shea said. “Our primary goal was to stop the run and we had to live with it if they threw the ball. Obviously they did. I thought we would have played better in the secondary.”
Woodland played without two of its top wide receiver-defensive back options in the suspended Rahmi Rountree and the injured Mike Kenney.
Kingsley struggled without those targets and without ample time to throw. He overthrew Anthony Scirpo several times in the first quarter as he tried to deliver the ball under pressure and over the blanket coverage of Newsome. Kingsley completed half his passes for 96 yards.
“We mixed up some of the things we were doing on defense and tried to confuse them a little bit with the looks,” Brockett said. “They hurt us on one series but once we were able to adjust to that, we played great for the rest of the half.”
After an Ansonia safety in the third quarter, the Hawks scored two late touchdowns with their junior varsity unit. Josh Collet and Joe Masulli each scored touchdowns and Masulli tacked on a pair of two-point conversions to cut the final score to 47-16.
Woodland will have plenty of time to recover before re-entering Naugatuck Valley League Copper Division play. The Hawks are off this week after they were unable to secure a nonconference opponent and will next play Oct. 5 at home against Kennedy.