BEACON FALLS — The Woodland Hawks escaped with a 27-20 victory over previously undefeated Watertown late Friday night to bring their record to .500.
The game came to a fitting end when the multi-talented Jack DeBiase intercepted a pass from Indians quarterback Matt Quatrano as time expired.
“We were in man coverage, and I was lucky the defensive lineman hit him,” said DeBiase of his game-clinching play. “The receiver was kind of off-line and I just stepped right in front of it. I was originally going to just knock it down, but then I figured I might as well catch it.”
The Hawks struggled on the defensive side of the ball early in this game, giving up all 20 of Watertown’s points in the first half, including a 60-yard drive with less than 2 minutes to play in the second quarter that culminated with a Quatrano touchdown run.
The majority of the Indians’ offense was gained through the air, almost the complete opposite of what Woodland faced last week against the hard-nosed Wolcott ground game.
“Watertown’s got an athlete at quarterback with a great arm and he’s a great, great competitor,” commented Woodland coach Tim Shea. “They have some speed on the outside. We played a lot of man tonight, and in man-to-man, sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose and we’ve got to get better at that every week.”
The Hawks came out in the second half with a fire lit under them, shutting Watertown out and forcing them to punt on three of their five offensive possessions. The other two ended with interceptions by DeBiase and Zach Plourde.
When asked about his half-time pep talk, Shea said, “Let’s just say I got my point across on what we needed to get better.”
Woodland, led by DeBiase and running back Jake Pinho, mounted a nine-play, 37-yard drive following Plourdes’ interception. The drive ended in a quarterback run by DeBiase, giving the Hawks a six point lead until kicker Zach Belenchia knocked through the extra point, making it 27-20 with 2:07 left in the game.
The Indians took over on offense with under two minutes to play, during which they squeezed out every last second. They managed to move the ball from their own 27 all the way to Woodland’s 11 with a mixture of both passing and running, including a 14-yard scramble by Quatrano.
The drive, and more importantly the game, came to end in the hands of Jack DeBiase as Quatrano dropped back to throw and was immediately flooded with pressure in the pocket, forcing the ill-advised toss.
Woodland was able to move the ball very efficiently down the field against Watertown, continuing its strong ground attack consisting of Pinho, DeBiase, and Craig Genz, even after the team’s struggles last week against the Eagles.
“We went back to what was working, run the ball, throw some play-action,” Shea said. “We had a lot of young kids out there. We played like six or seven sophomores out there, all night. That’s huge in a game like this. They came out here to play, and I think that bodes well for our future.”
The Hawks will bost the Crusaders of Holy Cross, the 2009 NVL champions, this Friday at 7 p.m. The Crusaders dropped a 31-0 loss to Ansonia on Oct.1; Woodland almost beat Ansonia in the season opener but ultimately lost, 41-36.