DERBY — For the third week in a row the Woodland football team suffered a heartbreaking setback. This time it was at the hands of Derby.
The Hawks fell, 20-19, Friday night against the Red Raiders.
The Hawks (3-7) were driving for a go-ahead score when Ben Slowik intercepted a Mike Kenney pass in the end zone to thwart Woodland’s comeback attempt.
Slowik had three interceptions and a fumble recovery for Derby (7-3). It marked the third straight week that Woodland outplayed the opposition, but came away on the short end in the final minutes of the game.
“I would be lying if I told you we are getting use to this,” Woodland head coach Tim Phipps said. “We made some key mistakes throughout the game. We turned the ball over way too much and had some key personal fouls that didn’t help our chances.”
Derby got the upper hand and a 7-0 lead on a 68-yard touchdown pass from Mike Kreiger to Slowik in the first quarter. The touchdown pass gave Kreiger the Derby career record for touchdown passes with 59.
Coby Vaccarelli got the Hawks on the board returning a 25-yard interception for a touchdown to start the second quarter. The extra point failed and Woodland trailed, 7-6.
Derby wasted no time to take the lead back when Roberto Soto went 68 yards on a kickoff return giving the Red Raiders the momentum.
Kenney (15 carries, 58 yards, two touchdowns) ran in a score from 4 yards out and Lauren Charette booted the extra point to tie the game 13-13 at the half.
“We lost a little momentum with that kickoff return,” Phipps said. “We have outplayed the last three teams we faced and it came down to a couple of plays that could have gone either way. Easy to say but difficult to do.”
Sean McAllen led the Hawks on the ground with 164 yards on 28 carries. Dave Bobbie rushed for 47 yards on 12 carries as Jason Rodrigues added 50 yards on the ground to give the Hawks a formidable offensive presence.
Seniors Will Flormann, Alex Varhol, Jake Laliberte and Rodrigues all had five tackles to lead the defense.
Much like the Ansonia and Holy Cross games in the previous two weeks, Derby slipped by the Hawks late.
Woodland took a 19-13 lead when Kenney ran it into the end zone from11 yards out in the third quarter. Derby blocked the extra point.
The Hawks gained 20 first downs to the Raiders’ eight, but it didn’t matter when Ricky Bartone barreled into the end zone from 10 yards out in the fourth quarter for the winning score.
Woodland was scheduled to host Seymour Thanksgiving eve in the annual rivalry game. The game has been moved to 4 p.m. on Tuesday due to the forecast of a winter storm for Wednesday. The Hawks are 6-4 against Seymour in the last 10 meetings and have won five in a row.
Phipps said the annual Thanksgiving eve game is a chance for the team, especially the seniors, to end on a high note.
“This is the last game for the seniors,” Phipps said. “We can’t get caught up in all the emotions. We just need to go out and prepare for our next opponent. If we perform the way we are capable of we can end this season on a positive note.”