HAMDEN>> One week after suffering a stunning loss against North Haven – and also hearing how they might not be a Top 10 football team this season after winning their record third straight Class LL title last December – Xavier was back to their dominating ways Friday night against Hamden.
Senior running back Andrew Meoli gained 172 yards on 17 carries with two touchdowns and the Falcons defense held the speedy Green Dragons to only 28 total yards as Xavier rolled to a 33-0 Southern Connecticut Conference victory at Bruno Field.
“This is a big step for us,” said Xavier coach Sean Marinan. “We had a lot of opportunities last week and we just didn’t capitalize on them. We let a few get away from us tonight but we did better so we’re going the right way.”
Xavier set the tone on the game’s opening possession with a smash-mouth 17-play, 72-yard scoring march. Senior quarterback Joe Carbone (7 of 10 for 95 yards) capped the drive with a seven yard touchdown toss to sophomore Noah Cruz and Ricky Verre’s extra point kick gave the Falcons an early 7-0 lead.
Xavier (2-1) also scored on its second possession after a big punt return from Meoli set the Flacons up at the Hamden 22. Seven plays later, Carbone rolled into the end zone from four yards out and the Falcons had a 14-0 lead.
“The first two drives where they drove down the field and maintained the ball for almost seven minutes kind of set us back on our heels a little bit,” said Hamden coach Todd Dowty. “We knew it was going to be a tough game and a tough night with Xavier coming off a loss, which they’re not used to doing.”
Meoli’s 55-yard touchdown run made it 20-0 with 5:26 left in the second quarter.
Carbone, who gained 55 yards on 13 carries, scored on a 1-yard plunge early in the third quarter and Meoli capped his big night with a 12-yard TD scamper at the end of the third.
Hamden (2-1), who came into the game with impressive wins over Danbury and East Haven, never got untracked offensively. Junior quarterback Billy Varney, who was sacked four times, and running backs Nigel Tappin and Maliek Williamson were under siege the entire night.
“Traditionally Xavier loads the box on you,” Dowty said. “We tried to get the outside and open up some pass routes but they were very aggressive and got through on the gaps a couple of times and broke up some key plays.”
Derek Jones, Chidi Broderick, Kevin Lawrence, Riley Byrne and Will Garrity spearheaded the Falcons strong defensive effort as they limited Hamden to just two first downs, including none in the second half.
“They came to play physical and play hard and they did,” said Marinan. “Hats off to Andy Guyon, our defensive coordinator, who put them in the right places a lot to make those plays. We’ve been challenging the kids since last week so our defense really stepped up tonight.”
Xavier outgained Hamden, 369-28
“We came out and we thought we had a good game plan going in,” said Dowty. “We had a couple of key plays called back on penalties so we’re going to regroup and move on to next week. There’s plenty of the season left.”