Hawks gridders hammer St. Paul, 36-7

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BEACON FALLS — When reminded of last season’s one-point loss to St. Paul that eliminated Woodland from playoff contention, it was clearly visible the loss still bothers Hawks junior Zach Plourde.
With a chance for a least a little redemption Friday, Plourde, fellow senior Jack DeBiase and the rest of Hawks didn’t squander the opportunity.
Led by DeBiase’s 314 total yards and five touchdowns, and a team rushing total of 463 yards, Woodland blasted the Falcons, 36-7, at home.
“We just wanted to make up for last year,” said Plourde, who recovered two fumbles and recorded a sack. “I missed a few tackles that day and it’s been on my mind since then. We talked about that games all week and used it as motivation. It got all of us pumped up.”
“That was a tough way to end last year, leading that game 20-8 at the half and then falling apart,” noted Woodland head coach Tim Shea. “We showed the kids the film of it this week to set the mood for this game. They came to play today and we played some really good football.”
The win keeps the Hawks in state playoff contention at 5-2 and sets up a Copper Division showdown this week at Naugatuck.
Both teams are 4-0 in division play.
But the Hawks had to take care of business against St. Paul. DeBiase got off to a fast start, rushing six times for 24 yards and completing a 13-yard pass to Ian Bures on Woodland’s first possession.
He then capped off the drive with a two-yard touchdown run on a quarterback keeper out of the shotgun formation.
And even before they took a snap on offense, the night started to slip away for the Falcons as they were unable to handle the ensuing kickoff, which Plourde quickly pounced on for the fumble recovery.
Three plays later, DeBiase was back in the end zone on a similar play call to his first touchdown, although on this one, he carried three St. Paul defenders on his back for the 6-yard score.
“Taking advantage of the fumble set the tone for this game,” Plourde said. “Our offense moved the ball great (on the first possession) and it was huge for us to get the ball back.”
In the second, DeBiase threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Rahmi Rountree and also ran for another six-yard score. DeVante Gardner, who gained a team-high 76 yards on the ground for the Falcons (2-5), ran for a six-yard touchdown with only 9.4 seconds left in the half to cut the Woodland lead to 24-7.
St. Paul then moved the ball to the Woodland 20 on the first possession of the third, but lost a killer fumble on the ninth play of the drive.
DeBiase followed with a 70-yard touchdown burst that blew this one open at 30-7.
In total, DeBiase rushed for 231 yards and completed five passes for 83 yards.
“I was able to find the blockers out front and get through the holes,” DeBiase said. “Our guys did a great job blocking. As a team, we’re getting better on both sides of the ball.”
Matt Zaccagnini rushed for 113 yards on 10 carriers with a touchdown for the Hawks, while Craig Genz rushed seven times for 100 yards.
“Our blocking is getting better every week,” Shea said. “They are all first-year guys and they doing a great job of learning their positions.”
As for next week against Naugatuck, the anticipation of this matchup was already starting to build on the Woodland sideline after this game.
“Everyone knows what is at stake,” Shea said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun to prepare for this game and it’s certainly going to be a lot of fun to play it.”