WALLINGFORD >> On one side, a Lyman Hall team trying to build on a two-game winning streak after dropping 16 straight. On the other, a young Hyde program looking to get out of a three-game funk.
It would be the Howling Wolves who had the upper hand and snapped their skid in a 19-14 victory Friday night over the Trojans at the Fitzgerald Complex.
“We put ourselves in position to be successful the last four weeks,” Hyde coach Melvin Wells said. “On each occasion we had a chance to finish and win. The last few we fell short. We’re young and inexperienced, and those sort of things happen. They’re figuring it out.
They did a great job today of not bending and holding on.”
Coming in, Hyde (5-4) lost its previous three games by a combined eight points.
The Howling Wolves were without starting quarterback Dwayne Hunter-Parker (suspended) on Friday, so they would have to rely even more on their rushing attack. It was no secret Hyde was going to run the ball. Nothing fancy either, just a straight-ahead attack.
“We wanted to come in and pound and grind because we’re without our quarterback,” junior Ronnie Freeman said. “So we couldn’t really get that passing attack. We had to trust our line and just run.”
Hyde did. And it did so effectively.
Moving from the slot, Freeman had a memorable debut at running back. He finished with 19 carries for 178 yards and two touchdowns. Quyten Brown added 20 carries for 60 yards.
Trailing 14-13, Freeman and Brown combined for eight straight runs on a drive late in the third quarter. Brown rushed for a 19-yard gain, but injured his leg on the play. He did return. Freeman followed with a 20-yard touchdown run on the ensuing play, barely touched as he found the end zone.
Lyman Hall’s final drive came up just yards short of another thrilling victory. The Trojans (2-7) edged Branford 24-21 in overtime last week. But there would be no last-moment heroics this time. Lyman Hall moved the ball inside Hyde’s 25 in the final seconds, but the Trojans were called for a penalty. Nick Vendetto caught a pass from quarterback Kyle Smith just yards outside of the end zone on the game’s final play.
“They made a couple more plays than we did,” Lyman Hall coach Rob Marone said. “It’s unfortunate because we lost a very winnable football game and we just didn’t make enough clutch plays on both sides of the ball.”
Smith completed 12 of his 26 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown. Lyman Hall lost starting center Matt Raffile in the second quarter to a hand injury.
Koby Mensah’s 55-yard run gave Lyman Hall a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter. However, Hyde responded on its next play as Freeman found a hole and rushed down the left sideline for a 60-yard touchdown to tie the game.
Hyde took a 13-7 lead early in the second as Aaron Write recovered a Freeman fumble in the end zone. Smith put Lyman Hall back up 14-13 later in the second. Smith connected with Jerry Rodriguez for a 65-yard touchdown.
But the Trojans did not have an answer for Hyde’s ground game.
“There’s not a lot to what they do,” Marone said.” A very simple, straight-ahead plan. They have some very talented athletes, some kids that are aggressive up front. And when you have kids who can run with speed like that, you’re holding your breath every single play because they could go for 50, 60, 70 yards.”