BEACON FALLS — Anthony Scirpo knew it was time to make his mark in the Naugatuck Valley League. He did it.
The Woodland junior scored three touchdowns and added an interception to help the Hawks to a 40-14 win over Naugatuck last Friday night in an important NVL Copper Division game.
“My dad kept telling me I had to have a breakout game one of these days,” said Scirpo, who had 132 total yards. “I had to come out in a big game, in a do-or-die situation, and make big plays.”
Scirpo was huge in helping the Hawks to a 20-0 halftime advantage. Late in the first quarter, Scirpo converted on a third-and-5 by catching a 10-yard pass from Tanner Kingsley. On the next play, Scirpo took a handoff around the right side and down the sideline, juking his way around a defender inside the 20-yard line for a 59-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Naugatuck (4-3, 2-3 NVL Copper) drove to the Hawks’ 5-yard line on the next series but fumbled. Dave Alves recovered for Woodland (5-2, 4-1) to reverse the momentum.
“I was hoping to scoop and score,” said Alves, who plays with an injured left arm. “I saw the ball pop out but then my cast got in the way, so I just fell on it.”
It was OK that Alves didn’t pick up the ball in stride and find the end zone. Scirpo was there to strike again, capping a 10-play drive with a 10-yard touchdown reception to give the Hawks a 13-0 lead early in the second.
But Scirpo wasn’t done yet. On Naugatuck’s next play from scrimmage, he picked off Zac Mercer’s pass at the Woodland 48 and swerved all the way down to the Naugatuck 18. Three plays later, Matt Zaccagnini scored from 11 yards out to make it 20-0.
“I guess I have good field vision, I would say,” Scirpo said.
“[Scirpo] came to play this week,” Woodland coach Tim Shea said. “We’re trying to get him to realize his ability. He has great speed and natural field vision with the cuts he was making. He came to play and we needed him to.”
Brian Zaccagnini intercepted Mercer at the Woodland 1-yard line to keep the ‘Hounds scoreless at the half.
“I see guys that aren’t running their assignments,” Naugatuck coach Rob Plasky said of his team’s three first-half turnovers, two of which were in the red zone. “We had a great game plan for this week, believe it or not. Early on, we were knifing them and driving but then we fumble it away.”
Jake Yourison punched in a 1-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 20-7 with 4:58 left in the third, but the Hawks drove right back and answered with an 18-yard touchdown pass from Kingsley to Levi Fancher, making it 27-7.
Scirpo added his third touchdown of the night early in the fourth quarter on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Kingsley in which Scirpo leaped over a defender, regained his balance on the sideline, and dove two yards into the end zone for a 34-7 lead.
Yourison hit Mick Pernell on a 48-yard touchdown pass on the next play from scrimmage to make it 34-14, but the Hawks engineered a nine-minute drive ending in a 24-yard touchdown run by Matt Zaccagnini to seal the game.
Zaccagnini finished with 169 yards rushing on 34 carries while Kingsley was 8-of-10 for 130 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Woodland outgained Naugatuck, 391-180.
Plasky has been disappointed by his team’s recent performances, which have put the Greyhounds on a three-game losing streak.
“We’re getting beat by better teams,” said Plasky, whose team was scheduled to travel to Watertown on Friday, pending any changes due to the power situation. “Right now we’re not playing very well. We have to give our best performance on any given night or else we’re going to be in a dogfight and get our butts kicked. The kids are giving their best effort at times and sometimes they’re not.”
For Woodland, it was a complete performance the team needed after a tough loss to Torrington.
“That left a bad taste in our mouths,” Shea said about the Torrington game. “We made stops when we had to and got a few turnovers to help. We’ve been saying it all year, we’re going to give the ball to Zaccagnini and use the short passing game with Tanner. We played close to a full game.”
The Hawks are set for the biggest game of their season against Copper Division leader Holy Cross (6-1, 4-0). The game was originally scheduled for Friday night but was moved to Saturday night due to the power outage. The Crusaders will win the division by beating the Hawks, but Woodland will still be alive in the division and Class S with a victory.