WATERBURY — The Hawks have made steady improvement since day one of the football season. All the hard work and belief in each other finally came to a head last Friday on a bitterly cold night at Municipal Stadium.
The Hawks ran wild over Kennedy to earn a 40-20 victory, their first win of the season.
“The kids always come to work and have been getting better each week,” Woodland head coach Chis Moffo said. “They haven’t given up all year. It’s unfortunate that it hasn’t shown up in our favor.
“It has been a lot of demands on our coaches and players but this has been a long time coming and definitely a load off our shoulders. I’m so proud of this team for sticking together the way they have.”
The Hawks (1-8) ran for 448 yards and six touchdowns behind the offensive line of Cody Doyle, Justin Monroe, Tom Faryniarz, Joe Shea and Alek Tolboe.
Tim Smith piled up 280 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns to lead the way.
Isaac Negron carried the ball 22 times for 153 yards and two touchdowns, and quarterback Quincy Koch scrambled for two touchdowns for the first win of the season for the Hawks.
Kennedy (4-5) was celebrating senior night and looking to close out the season with a winning record. The Eagles came right out and took an 8-0 lead on their first possession of the game. Daishawn Lamar barreled in from 2 yards out on the 11th play of the drive with Joey Schaff adding the two-point conversion with 4:59 left in the first quarter.
By the time Kennedy found the end zone again the temperature had dropped ten degrees and Woodland was running away with the game with a 21-8 advantage in the third quarter.
It took Woodland 13 plays to march the ball 73 yards down the field and answer Kennedy’s first touchdown. Smith started it off with a 15-yard run and Negron picked up 20 yards on fourth-and-two to set up a first-and-goal at the Kennedy 5-yard line.
With 9:57 left in the second quarter, Koch took it himself for a 1-yard touchdown plunge and Faryniarz split the uprights to make it an 8-7 game.
On the ensuing kickoff Carter Amore jarred the ball loose on the onside kick and Jackson Henry came up with the fumble. The Kennedy defense teamed up to try and stop Negron, who now has 1,018 yards on the season, but that opened up an opportunity for Smith to hit pay dirt from 40 yards out and give Woodland a 14-8 lead after Faryniarz booted the extra point.
Kennedy then drove deep into Woodland territory but the Hawks defense, led by Steve Lawrence, was coming up with big plays. Doyle caused a fumble that Henry recovered and with four minutes remaining in the half the Hawks were marching down the field again.
On a third-and-two Koch found a seam around the corner and took it 50 yards down the sidelines to set up another first-and-goal situation. Koch went on to take it in from 4 yards out and the extra point by Faryniarz sent Woodland into halftime holding a commanding 21-8 advantage.
“It was actually a broken play,” said Koch about the run that set up the touchdown before the half. “Smith and Negron are the workhorses of our running game but if I see an opening I’ll take it.”
The Eagles closed the gap on their first drive of the second half when Jacob Colon went 47 yards for the touchdown, but the two-point conversion was stopped and Woodland held a 21-14 lead.
A 33-yard touchdown jaunt from Smith and a 4-yard blast from Negron opened up an insurmountable 34-14 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. Negron scored his second touchdown of the game with 5:57 to go and Kennedy countered with Tyvon Stenson going in from a yard out for the final 40-20 margin.
“We didn’t want to come out in the second half overly confident and just needed to come out and finish out the game,” Koch said. “Our defense was coming up with a lot of tackles behind the line of scrimmage containing a very good football team.”
The Hawks have this week off as they prepare for their annual Thanksgiving eve game with Seymour. Woodland will host the Wildcats Nov. 23 at 5:30 p.m.