BRANFORD — Almost every week, there’s a different star for North Haven.
Friday night it was Cole Pecora’s turn. The junior running back ran for 201 yards on 14 times carries and scored a pair of touchdowns to lead the Indians to a 46-12 victory over Branford at the James MacVeigh Alumni Athletic Complex.
“We don’t have a (former star running back) Jalon White in our locker room right now,” North Haven coach Anthony Sagnella said. “What we do have are some very good players and when we’re clicking, we are a very difficult team to play against.”
The Indians improved to 5-1 with the win.
“It was a game that we were in until halftime (down 19-0),” Branford coach John Limone said after his team fell to 0-6. “To me, we’re still in it. If we come out and get a stop and then score, we’re OK.”
But that never happened as North Haven scored 20 points in the third quarter to break the game wide open.
While that put the game away, it was Pecora’s first half that got North Haven going. Pecora had 130 yards rushing at the break and touchdown runs of 14 and 42 yards.
“They were giving me a lot of outside runs,” Pecora said. “In the second quarter, they (Branford) picked up on it, so we went to the strong side. The line also did a great job for me to run through the holes.”
North Haven’s other first-half touchdown came when quarterback Mike Halloran found a wide-open Mike Montano behind the Branford defense for a touchdown.
Branford didn’t help itself in the first half. The Hornets were able to move the ball, but made mistakes and were whistled for penalties at inopportune times.
“At times, we were ripping off chunks of yardage in the first half,” Limone said. “We’d come back with penalties or get in the wrong formation. We do things young teams will do. It’s frustrating.”
Halloran scored the first of his two touchdowns 3 minutes into the second half to make it 25-0 and the Indians were on their way to a 20-point quarter to take a 39-0 lead after three quarters. Halloran added a 6-yard run and Tom Gallagher a 1-yard jaunt for touchdowns.
Nicholas Ponzio tacked on a 9-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter for North Haven’s final points after Sagnella pulled his starters.
Branford’s Dakota Carden scored on touchdown runs of 76 and 50 yards in the fourth quarter on his only two carries of the night.
Even with the victory, North Haven remained ninth in the CIAC Class L playoff standings. The top eight qualify.
“We’ve been here before, but we have some very good opponents in front of us,” Sagnella said. “We just have to go one week at a time.”
North Haven 46, Branford 12
North Haven 7 12 20 7 — 46
Branford 0 0 0 12 — 12
N—Cole Pecora 14 run (Sabrina Fronte kick)
N—Michael Montano 62 pass from Michael Halloran (kick failed)
N—Cole Pecora 42 run (run failed)
N—Michael Halloran 12 run (kick failed)
N—Tom Gallagher 1 run (Sabrina Fronte kick)
N—Michael Halloran 6 run (Sabrina Fronte kick)
N—Nicholas Ponzio 9 run (Sabrina Fronte kick)
B—Dakota Carden 76 run (run failed)
B—Dakota Carden 50 run (pass failed)
Team records: Branford 0-6; North Haven 5-1