FOOTBALL Mustangs benefit from Hilltoppers mistakes
BRIDGEPORT — There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Derrick Lewis knows it’s out there, somewhere. One of these days, but most likely not this season, however, the Central football coach will see it. Bringing better days along as well.
Until that time comes. However, there are going to continue to be games like this, games when the Hilltoppers shoot themselves in the foot over and over again, giving their opponents — this week the Fairfield Warde Mustangs — a golden opportunity to coast to an easy victory.
And that’s just that the Mustangs did. They took advantage of three interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, and two fumbles, one returned for a touchdown in a 48-6 romp Thursday night at Kennedy Stadium.
“We keep preaching to the kids about staying out of our own way,” Lewis said. “But that’s what we’re having struggles with. A young team like this, that doesn’t understand the game, especially at the level that it needs to be played, you’re going to have games like this.”
Warde scored on its opening drive, a seven-play, 76-yard march, to take a quick 7-0 lead. From there, the Central floodgates opened. Jeff Seganos intercepted a pass at midfield on the Hilltoppers opening drive and returned it 50 yards for a touchdown.
On the ensuing kickoff, the ball popped out of the grasp of Central’s Ja-Asia Baker at the Central 18 and right into the hands of Warde’s Connor Burt, who went into the end zone for the Mustangs’ third touchdown in the opening five minutes. In became 27-0 when Warde quarterback Joe Gulbin found Burt for a 10-yard touchdown pass with 3:05 left in the quarter.
The game was over literally before it had begun.
“That was the key tonight, we needed to clean up our mistakes and take advantage of if they were going to make any,” Warde coach Duncan DellaVolpe said. “We’d seen them make a few and we hoped that could apply some pressure and see if we could get them to cough the ball up.”
Try as they might, Central, like Lewis said, wasn’t able to get out of its own way. Hilltopper quarterback completed six passes for 98 yards but threw three interceptions. Along with the fumble on the kickoff, Central also was guilty of losing an on-sides kickoff when the ball hit a Hilltopper player in the leg as he turned around to chase the ball downfield.
“We’re having troubles with so many things,” Lewis said. “We’re having trouble with snaps, we’re having trouble with handling the ball, throwing pix-6’s, all those different things. In this conference, you do things like that, you get your tail whipped.”
Gulbin scored from four yards out to cap that opening Warde drive and after Seganos’ score and Burt’s two touchdown’s, Gulbin threw TD passes to Jack McKenna and Will Stearns to make it 41-0 at halftime.
“Turnovers will spur us on anytime,” DellaVolpe said. “Everything kind of came together tonight, receivers getting off the ball better, running backs running harder, blocking better, tackling better and that’s what we focused on and that was a big key tonight.”
With the clock running throughout the second half, Warde pushed its margin to 48-0 as Stearns caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Gublin with 6:50 left in the third before DellaVolpe emptied his bench.
Central, to its credit, didn’t quit and scored on a 50-yard TD run from Baker at the end of the third to make it 48-6.
That’s how it ended.
For Central, Baker ended with 64 yards rushing while Nathaniel Bruno caught four passes for 48 yards. Gublin was 7 of 14 for 139 yards and three TDs while Ahern Ramirez rushed 12 times for 31 yards and Joe Gjinaj added 24 yards on three carries.
“If we keep working on cleaning up our mistakes and we play with the effort that we’ve played in two of our games, I think we’ll be OK,” DellaVolpe said. “We have to carry this over.”
“We’re going to get back to work tomorrow and work to fix our mistakes,” Lewis said. “We’ll like our wounds tonight, but we’ll be all right.”
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Warde junior Connor Burt. He caught four passes for 52 yards, including a 10-yard TD and also returned a fumbled kickoff 18 yards for a touchdown
WARDE 48, CENTRAL 6
WARDE 27 14 7 0 — 48
CENTRAL 0 0 6 0 — 6
Records: Warde (2-2), Central (0-4)
W — Joe Gublin, 4-yard run (Braulio Palma kick)
W — Jeff Seganos, 50-yard interception return (Palma kick)
W — Connor Burt, 18-yard fumble return (Palma kick)
W — Burt, 10-yard pass from Joe Gublin (kick failed)
W — Jack McKenna, 12-yard pass from Gublin (Palma kick)
W — Will Stearns, 33-yard pass from Gublin (Palma kick)
W — Stearns, 26-yard pass from Gublin (Palma kick)
C — Ja-Asia Baker, 50-yard run (pass failed)