North Branford football fans certainly had plenty to be thankful for on Thanksgiving as the T-Birds not only delivered an exciting come-from-behind 32-28 victory over Hyde on Thanksgiving Eve, but a perfect 10-0 regular 2012 season as well.
The win earned North Branford the No. 3 seed in the Class S State Tournament, which begins tonight, Nov. 27, at 6:30 p.m. as the T-Birds host sixth-seeded Trinity Catholic (8-2).
With the loss on Nov. 21, Hyde fell to 9-1 for the 2012 season, taking the No. 5 seed. The Howling Wolves will travel to fourth-seeded Rocky Hill, also 9-1 at 6:30 p.m. You can check out the full bracket for the Class S State Tournament on the CIAC website.
There was plenty of action in the Nov. 21 matchup of two undefeated teams and if you missed the first minute, then you missed the first touchdown as North Branford quarterback Brandan Basil's 38-yard run gave the T-Birds an early 6-0 lead.
But then the Howling Wolves showed off their speed as Akeem Berry ran in two TDs – the first for 13 yards and teh second for 60 – with Hyde capitalizing on both extra-point opportunities to put North Branford in unfamiliar territory – behind.
Basil connected with Chris Caron on a 33-yard touchdown pass and North Branford went for the two-point conversion to tie it, but the attempt failed, leaving the T-Birds trailing 14-12 after the first quarter.
Hyde added to its lead with a five-yard Kevin Jones run in the second quarter to carry a 21-12 lead into halftime and then took its largest lead of the game early in the third quarter as Ezekeil Nixon broke away on a 75-yard touchdown run.
Down 28-12, North Branford buckled down its defense and got back to lighting up the scoreboard with three unanswered touchdowns. In the third quarter, Joe Delucia punched one in from the three-yard line before Gary Falanga ran in a score from five yards out. Delucia converted the two-point attempt on the second score to head into the final frame trailing 28-26.
Fans watched the fourth quarter from the edge of their seats as the T-Birds' defense hustled to contain the speedy Hyde offense. With the clock winding down, Basil ran in the winning touchdown from the 14-yard line, sending the fans into a frenzy.
It wasn't over, though, as Hyde had more than a minute on the clock to come back. Sophomore Austin Calamita dashed any hopes of a comeback, though, as he reeled in a Hyde pass for an interception.
Basil led the T-Birds' offense, passing 8-for-23 for 126 yards and collecting 74 rushing yards. Delucia had six rushes for 59 yards to go with six receptions for 78 yards. Dale Hausman rushe dfor 44 yards and Falanga had 32.
Defensively, the T-Birds tallied 81 tackles, led by Hausman with 14 and Josh Melaccio with 12. Nick Whited and Falanga each had nine tackles, Caron had seven and John Burke had six. Falanga also had two sacks, while Melaccio had one.
Check out the great photo gallery by Kevin Pataky of MaxPreps from the North Branford-Hyde game, too.