Hawks runs through Oxford

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Woodland’s Sean McAllen (4) picks up some of his 283 yards rushing against Oxford Sept. 11 in Beacon Falls. Woodland won, 27-7. –LUKE MARSHALL
Woodland’s Sean McAllen (4) picks up some of his 283 yards rushing against Oxford Sept. 11 in Beacon Falls. Woodland won, 27-7. –LUKE MARSHALL

BEACON FALLS — With 4:43 left in the third quarter Woodland set up to punt after a drive stalled at the Hawks’ 47-yard line. Oxford had just cut the Hawks’ lead to 13-7 and the Wolverines were threatening to seize the momentum.

The Hawks reached into their bag of tricks.

Woodland senior running back Sean McAllen took the snap on a fake punt and ran it all the way into the end zone to put the Hawks back up by 13 points.

“It was 13-7 at the time, they had just scored, we ended up having to punt, momentum was changing and that play put us back up by two scores. And, anytime you are playing up by two scores you feel a lot more comfortable because it is not a one-play game anymore,” head coach Chris Anderson said.

Woodland (1-0) started a new era Sept. 11 with a convincing 27-7 win over Oxford (0-1).

“Anytime you can start the season with a win it really builds the spirt of the school and community, as well,” said Anderson, who is back on the Woodland sideline after an eight-year hiatus. “In game one everyone is undefeated and has high expectations for themselves. I think people started to believe as the game went on. The crowd started to get loud, the student body was very supportive, you see the cheerleaders on film doing push-ups and the dance team kicking around; so to get a win on opening day gives you hope for the season.”

The fake punt was just one play that propelled the Hawks to their opening-day victory. The defense had not one, but two goal-line stands — one early on in the first quarter and one later in the second half.

“We came out and went three and out, they drove the ball on us. Had they gone up 7 to nothing people might be second guessing how we were going to be, but for the defense to make that stand it was certainly the beginning of a turning point,” said Anderson of the first quarter stop.

The defense also had two interceptions — one by McAllen to end the half and the other to close out the game by senior Gaetano Massimo. Coby Vacarelli, who had a handful of bone-crushing stops that could be heard from the stands, had a great game defensively, as well.

“I think Coby Vacarelli on defense was superb,” Anderson said.

The game also marked the debut for Woodland freshman quarterback Zach Bedryczuk, who completed two of seven passes for 34 yards.

All four Woodland touchdowns on the evening came courtesy of McAllen, who had a record night on the ground. He put up 283 yards rushing breaking his own school record of 274.

“It’s pretty cool,” McAllen said. “We work hard and were ready for all of Oxford’s fronts. The line got the job done, but now we are just focused on Torrington.”

Woodland’s Benjamin Nuss (28) slips by Oxford’s Riley Nixon (76) Sept. 11 in Beacon Falls. Woodland won, 27-7. –LUKE MARSHALL
Woodland’s Benjamin Nuss (28) slips by Oxford’s Riley Nixon (76) Sept. 11 in Beacon Falls. Woodland won, 27-7. –LUKE MARSHALL

McAllen got things started with touchdown runs of 15 and 64 yards in the second quarter and the Hawks led 13-0 at the break.

Oxford cut the lead to 13-7 in the third after an 18-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Jacob to Zak Conant before the 47-yard touchdown on the fake punt stole the momentum back for Woodland.

McAllen capped the scoring with a 10-yard touchdown run in the fourth. Ben Nuzz was three of four on extra points for the Hawks.

“I know it is easy to point to No. 4 because he is a great player, but he also had some pretty big gaping holes at times. So, I thought that the 11 players on the field executed their jobs,” Anderson said.

That type of execution takes everyone involved being on the same page. McAllen and Anderson are on the same page when it comes to what work is still to be done.

“We certainly have a long way to go. There are a lot of things we need to clean up, but in a short period of time now that we only have three weeks to prepare,” Anderson said. “I thought everybody did their jobs relative, grade of a B.”

McAllen is an equally tough grader adding, “We are always improving and needing to improve, it takes time.”

Though he feels there is room to improve, Anderson likes how the Hawks are coming together.

“We have the makings of a team. A team is when everybody believes in each other and is doing their jobs and they fight and play hard no matter what the score is,” he said. “You are going to win some you are going to lose some but if you are giving your best effort that’s what it is all about. It is about the journey of a season.”

Woodland’s journey will bring the Hawks face to face with a tough Torrington (1-0) team Friday in Beacon Falls at 6:30 p.m.