Woodland football romps in Putnum, 51-14

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Woodland's Mike Uszakiewicz delivers a first-quarter hit on Putnam quarterback Matt Daineart during the Hawks' opening-night victory.
Woodland's Mike Uszakiewicz delivers a first-quarter hit on Putnam quarterback Matt Daineart during the Hawks' opening-night victory.

PUTNAM — That was disappointing.

No, not that Woodland picked up its first win of the season Thursday. But the 100-plus Hawks faithful that made the almost two-hour trip to Putnam didn’t get to see a particularly competitive game—unless you consider the Black and Gold’s 51-14 drubbing of the Clippers to be a thriller.

Junior tailback Jack DeBiase led Woodland’s offensive charge with 172 rushing yards on 19 carries, including three touchdowns, while senior wingback Brandon Fowler chipped in with three scores of his own—one rushing, another receiving, and an 80-yard kickoff return—and senior quarterback Steve Petracca tossed two touchdowns en route to the easy win in the Hawks’ first regular-season, out-of-league game since 2003.

“We wanted to get out of the league to work out some kinks—and we saw there were some—before league play started,” Woodland head coach Tim Shea said. “It was good for us to bring our brand of football somewhere else.”

After Putnam and Woodland traded turnovers on three consecutive drives in the first quarter, the Hawks took control, with Fowler scampering in for a 7-yard score, followed by DeBiase’s plunge from a yard out to make it 16-0.

DeBiase did nearly all the work on the Hawks’ first drive of the second, racking up 50 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown, pushing the lead to 23-0. Senior defensive back Colin Grommisch picked off Putnam quarterback Matt Daineart at Woodland’s goal line, leading to a 28-yard touchdown pass from Petracca to Fowler, after Grommisch’s 57-yard return. Grommisch added another interception in the third.

Petracca hooked up with senior wingback Tyler Slapikas on the Hawks’ opening drive of the second half for a 1-yard touchdown pass. After allowing a 50-yard aerial strike for Putnam’s second score, Fowler returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards to remove all doubt about the game’s outcome.

Woodland’s final score came on DeBiase’s third trip to the end zone, a 36-yard trot through a hole on the left side of the line.

“[DeBiase’s performance] was what we expected out of him,” Shea explained, “We have to work on some other things, though. We had over 100 yards in penalties [including 6 personal fouls], and that’s not going to cut in the league this week, let alone any week.”

Aside from the unsightly number of penalties, the only other glaring weak spot for the Hawks was their porous over-the-middle pass defense. Both of Putnam’s touchdowns came on tosses between the hashes, including a 5-yarder just before halftime (set up by a 25-yard pass) and the 50-yard strike in the third.

“Every week we have defensive goals,” Shea noted. “One of those goals is to not allow any big plays. They had some big plays. Some weeks it’s going to hurt us, so we’re going to go over the film, figure out what’s wrong, and coach ‘em up.”

Senior lineman Mike Diurno and senior linebacker James Bedard each recovered a fumble for the Hawks, who travel to Municipal Stadium Saturday afternoon to take on Kennedy, 40-0 losers to Watertown in week one. Woodland will be looking to exact revenge on the Eagles, who denied the Hawks the Naugatuck Valley League Copper Division title last year with a 16-13 victory.