WATERBURY — Coming out after the half on a dreary night Oct. 9 at Municipal Stadium, the Hawks found themselves down by a point to Holy Cross.
Head coach Chris Anderson’s message to his team at the break was to remain calm.
“In the first half we felt like we were moving the ball, but we tripped up a couple of times in the red zone and we happened to be losing at halftime. We kept the kids calm at halftime and told them that what we are doing is fine, we just need to be doing it a little bit better. And they certainly did that in the second half,” Anderson said.
The calm Hawks scored 16 unanswered points in the third quarter to put Holy Cross in the rearview mirror on the way to a 30-7 win.
After a defensive stand by the Hawks (3-2), Sean McAllen put Woodland ahead for good in the third quarter with his second touchdown run of the night, this one from 15 yards out. Quarterback Zach Bedryczuk added the two-point conversion to give Woodland a 14-7 lead.
McAllen, who ran for 211 yards on the night, went on to add his third and fourth touchdowns of the game as the Hawks dominated the Crusaders (2-2) in the second half.
The victory over Holy Cross (2-2) is the Hawks’ second in as many weeks and put them back over .500 since the first game of the year.
“It was just our base plays that we’ve been running all season, I thought our players executed and more so executed with authority,” said Anderson of his offense that has put up 70 points in the last two games.
The Hawks were able to take some pressure off of McAllen versus Holy Cross with senior running back Coby Vaccarelli. Vaccarelli ran for 101 yards on only nine carries, his first game with more than 100 yards rushing, for an impressive 11.2 yards per carry on the night.
“It’s always nice to have some balance,” Anderson said.
With McAllen seeing a lion’s share of the carries, teams are starting to key on him. A big game from Vaccarelli, who has had a few solid outings so far this season, should make opposing teams think twice about only following number four.
McAllen got things started with a 1-yard touchdown run to give Woodland a 6-0 lead in the first quarter. Holy Cross pulled ahead 7-6 in the second when Justin Witherspoon hauled in a pass from Adam Razza and evaded a handful of defenders 67 yards to the end zone.
That would be all the points Holy Cross could muster against the Woodland defense, which stifled the Crusaders’ spread offense.
“I thought we played great defensively all night long other than that one play (the Witherspoon touchdown). We gave up some first downs but they are a pretty good team, too, over there. They practice and have some pretty good players. You’re not going to totally shut anybody down completely but as long as you’re not giving up points at the end of the day, it’s good defense,” Anderson said.
Bedryczuk had only one completion in the game, but most importantly didn’t turn the ball over.
“Right now we are just asking him to manage our offense. He needs to make sure he is getting the ball to the right areas, his footwork is good. We aren’t asking him to get in the spread an throw the ball vertically 40 times a game as you can see; we threw the ball five times. We are very pleased with his progress. This is his second game in a row where he didn’t throw an interception so from that aspect we are pleased. We realize where he is, he is a freshman and eventually he will have a breakout game,” Anderson said.
The Hawks aren’t fooling anyone at this point in the season. They are a team that prides itself on playing sound, mistake free football and tough, disciplined defense.
The past two weeks have felt different for the Hawks. Anderson said after the 40-7 win over Watertown Oct. 2 that the players have really started to become a team, and it’s showing on the field.
“Seeing the extra effort from kids, Sean [McAllen] dove 4 yards into the end zone for a score, Coby [Vaccarelli] jumped over the line for a stop like Troy Polamalu, that’s the type of effort level we want to see from our players,” Anderson said.
A team-first mentality has been established by Anderson, and few players have made a bigger sacrifice than senior David Bobbie. The running back turned offensive lineman has gotten high praise from his coach and teammates alike for not only the position switch, but how well he has played since.
“Dave is an experienced player. He’s a senior, been in the program, so he has accepted his role and he is playing outstanding. He still has a long way to go in technique, as do many of the kids,” Anderson said.
The Hawks are off this week. The bye comes a great time for the team’s health. The Hawks could see starting offensive lineman and middle linebacker Cody Doyle back on the field for the first time since the opening game when they play Sacred Heart Oct. 24 at Municipal Stadium.
The Hearts (0-4) have yet to break into the win column, but Anderson made it clear that they are still a team to be taken seriously.
“Well they have talent, especially offensively. The quarterback can get the ball there, they have speed, so anytime you get into a game like that you worry because we don’t have Deion Sanders in our skill set,” Anderson said.
The Hawks will spend their bye working to improve their technique.
“We are going to concentrate on fundamentals and doing things correctly defensively, offensively, and on special teams,” Anderson said.