Hawks fly by Panthers in SWC-NVL challenge

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Woodland’s Mike Lang (28) returns the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown Oct. 18 versus Pomperaug in Southbury. The Hawks won, 42-13. –KEN MORSE
Woodland’s Mike Lang (28) returns the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown Oct. 18 versus Pomperaug in Southbury. The Hawks won, 42-13. –KEN MORSE

SOUTHBURY — Some games are won or lost in the final seconds. What the Woodland football team did to lock up last Friday’s win over Pomperaug took place in the first 30 seconds.

The Hawks scored two touchdowns before the scoreboard clock even warmed up as Woodland rolled to a convincing 42-13 win over the Panthers.

Mike Lang took the opening kickoff 90 yards to the house and Jack Pinho recovered the ensuing kick. It took Tanner Kingsley just one play to find Joe Poeta on a 39-yard touchdown pass and with just 24 seconds off the clock it was a 14-0 Woodland lead.

Woodland (6-0) never bothered to check the rear view mirror, and when the first quarter mercifully came to a close for Pomperaug, the Hawks had found the end zone four times to build an insurmountable 28-7 advantage.

“We wanted to come out here looking to set up our offense and defense off the momentum of our special teams and it worked to perfection,” Woodland head coach Tim Shea said. “Those were two huge plays and they served as a real confidence builder for us. This was the first time we ever played Pomperaug and with the SWC-NVL Challenge we were pumped to make a statement early on.”

Armed with a 14-0 advantage, Woodland proceeded to put the Pomperaug defense on its heels. Sean McAllen kept the Panthers honest by churning up 110 yards’ worth of real estate while Kingsley dissected the defense down field by completing 15 of 26 passes for 217 yards and four touchdowns.

The defense of Levi Fancher, Chris Slavin, Alex Varhol and Max McSperrin stopped the Panthers in their tracks. Pomperaug was held to two punts, two turnovers on downs and turnovers on a kickoff and a punt return, resulting in the Panthers scoring just seven first-half points.

Woodland took a 21-0 lead on a Taylor Tucciarone 25-yard touchdown hookup from Kingsley with 5:29 remaining in the opening quarter. Pomperaug countered with a Wade Prajer 21-yard strike to Matt Silverman over the middle just 52 seconds before the quarter ended.

Woodland’s Taylor Tucciarone (24) rushes Oct. 18 versus Pomperaug in Southbury. The Hawks won, 42-13. –RA ARCHIVE
Woodland’s Taylor Tucciarone (24) rushes Oct. 18 versus Pomperaug in Southbury. The Hawks won, 42-13. –RA ARCHIVE

That was more than enough time for the offensive line of Alik Bures, Jake Laliberte and Will Flormann to provide Kingsley with enough time to find Tucciarone for another 24 yard touchdown pass to open a 28-7 edge.

Jason Rodrigues recovered a fumbled punt and Woodland cashed in with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Kingsley to Mike Kenney for a 35-7 lead at the half.

“It certainly helped the kids go out fired up with the support we got from the booster club especially being on the road like that,” Shea said of the student section bussed in. “Pomperaug has an excellent passing game but we faced teams in back-to-back weeks that rely on the pass, and that helped us going into this matchup.”

Woodland closed out its scoring at the end of the third quarter when McAllen barreled his way in from 4 yards out to up the margin to 42-7. Pomperaug scored late in the fourth quarter when Prajer hooked up with Steve Croce on a 27-yard touchdown pass for the final margin.

The Hawks will host winless Sacred Heart on Friday.