The North Branford Thunderbirds overcame a heart-stopping in their season-opener to defeat Haddam-Killingworth 18-7 Friday night on their home field.
The T-Birds stepped up their defensive effort, limiting the Cougars, who scored 51 points in their opening game win against Hyde Leadership, to a single score.
But North Branford Coach Mark Basil wasn’t entirely satisfied with the defensive effort, which was unable to contain Cougars running back Dan German, who scored on a 28-yard run in the second quarter.
“They’re a tight, physical style offense and under these conditions, it works in their favor,” Basil said. “Their running backs run hard, they’re aggressive and they attacked some of our smaller guys on the edge. We have some big bodies inside that can stop the inside run, but the edge was our concern. Our secondary came up and did a good job and our linebackers played well, so it was an improvement on defense.”
The T-Birds' pass defense was especially spectacular. The Cougars went to a passing attack late in the game down by two scores and failed to complete a single pass. German ran for 50 and 45 yards on two second-half drives, but HK failed to convert them into scores.
“We didn’t sustain our drives and made too many mistakes,” HK Coach Dennis O’Rourke said.
The T-Birds' first score came on a seven-yard pass from junior quarterback Brandan Basil, the coach’s son, to senior Ryan Magnotti halfway into the first quarter.
Basil attempted to run a pass-oriented offense, but threw three interceptions in the first half. One of the picks led to a T-Birds' touchdown after the Cougars fumbled the interception and North Branford recovered on the HK 13-yard line. Joey Delucia scored on an eight-yard run and added another score on an 11-yard run in the third quarter to complete the scoring.
Basil said his son “made some bad decisions, I think he was trying to do too much. Our receivers need to get off the line of scrimmage. HK did a good job of pressing the line of scrimmage and forced our receivers into some bad decisions.”
“We had three interceptions, but we didn’t stop them when we needed to stop them,” O’Rourke said. “We broke down on pass defense and gave them a few runs and didn’t tackle well.”
The Pequot Division opponents are both 1-1 after Friday’s game. Next Friday and Haddam-Killingworth hosts Cromwell.
Game Notes: Offensively, Basil had six carries for 20 yards and was 11-f0r-22 passing for 111 yards and a touchdown. DeLucia had six carries for 35 yards and two TDs to go with two receptions for 28 yards. Ryan Magnotti had three receptions for 19 yards and a score.
Other offensive contributors included Dale Hausman with 12 carries for 36 yards; Chris Caron with four carries for 24 yards and five receptions for 42 yards; Onofrio with a 22-yard reception; and Falanga with a 31-yard carry.
Anthony Franco led the defense with 12 tackles followed by Damoy Hunter with seven, Falanga with six, Bobby Miller with five and Mitch Mongillo with four.
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